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Spirit adding biometrics to minimize interactions between passengers and staff

Sept. 03, 2020
3 min read
Spirit biometrics
Spirit adding biometrics to minimize interactions between passengers and staff
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Spirit Airlines may be best known for its low, unbundled fares and endless upsells (including a TPG favorite, the Big Front Seat), but now the ultra-low-cost carrier's looking to boost its reputation as a technology leader, with what it's calling "the check-in experience of the future."

Now available at Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and New York LaGuardia (LGA), the carrier's new lobby areas use biometric photo-matching to help speed up the check-in process. After scanning their ID and agreeing to a face scan, passengers can use Spirit's kiosks to confirm their identity, allowing them to check in their own bags without an agent's assistance.

Spirit says it's the first U.S. airline to employ this technology for domestic passengers. For the time being, agents do need to verify a passenger's ID before they can access the scanners, but the airline hopes to eliminate that step once it secures TSA approval, which the airline expects soon.

Photo courtesy of Spirit Airlines.

Spirit has been testing the new solution with international travelers the past few months, and now it's ready to roll it out to domestic customers as well. Spirit's new check-in tech is now available at LaGuardia and O'Hare, with the carrier hoping to offer it at other airports soon.

According to Spirit, "Guests check around 1,000 bags daily right now at ORD and LGA, each of which represents a face-to-face interaction that can be eliminated. Spirit anticipates handling more than double that volume when demand for air travel returns to normal, 90% of which the airline expects to process via self-bag drop."

Read more: Everything you should know before flying Spirit Airlines

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In addition to reduced interactions between passengers and staff, the new system has proven to save time, since travelers don't need to wait for an employee to wander over and process their checked bag. According to Spirit, the new bag-drop process takes an average of 70 seconds per customer, which it says is 30% faster.

Currently, Spirit's tech just covers the check-in process — you'll still need to scan your boarding pass at the gate. Still, biometric boarding will likely follow at some point, as the technology has already proven effective with some international flights, including those operated by American, Delta and JetBlue.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Spirit Airlines.)

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  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

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10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more