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If you’ve ever flown a major international carrier, especially when departing from an overseas hub, you’ve probably seen how much more efficiently they manage to get passengers on board. I’ve witnessed international airlines board a Boeing 747 more quickly than US carriers can get folks on a 737 — it’s excruciating to watch how poorly it’s done here.

While getting passengers in their seats quickly often seems to be the holdup, processing customers at the gate can cause delays as well — especially when passports need to be checked individually for an international flight. Lufthansa’s new biometric boarding process has successfully eliminated that latter step at one major US airport, hopefully paving the way for a global expansion.

What stands out most about Lufthansa’s LAX trial is a staggering stat: the carrier managed to get all 350 passengers onboard an Airbus A380 in about 20 minutes. That’s very impressive for a flight originating in the US!

Lufthansa’s biometric boarding employs facial recognition, a technology in use by some other carriers overseas. Unlike Delta’s fingerprint boarding, which requires a CLEAR subscription, all passengers can use Lufthansa’s system, which matches faces with passport photographs stored in the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) database. Faces are matched to the flight manifest, so passengers don’t even need to show a boarding pass at the gate.

Lufthansa stated that customers have responded positively to the new service, and an expansion is currently in the works, including a future rollout to additional gateways in the US.

Know before you go.

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