Orlando International Airport Will Be First To Utilize Biometrics to Expedite International Travel

Press Release
Renovated CBP facility at Airside 4
Renovated CBP facility at Airside 4
Biometric Exit gate at MCO
Biometric Exit gate at MCO

At today's April meeting, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) Board voted to position Orlando International Airport (MCO) as the first U.S. airport to fully deploy the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) Biometric Entry and Exit Program. The Board approved $4 million in funding to integrate the passenger processing system that will use facial recognition technology to facilitate the arrival and departure of all international travelers.

The decision reaffirms the Board's vision to continually innovate operations at MCO along with its commitment to invest in customer service enhancements that redefine the guest experience. "Customer satisfaction is always our top priority and the goal of the Board is to make the journey through Orlando International Airport as enjoyable as possible," says Frank Kruppenbacher, Chairman of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. "This program will benefit our more than six million annual international passengers by delivering a simpler travel process."

Over the past several months, Orlando International Airport, in conjunction with CBP, has been testing the system for passengers boarding British Airways (BA) flights to the United Kingdom. The system accelerated passenger processing with the BA flights boarding in less than 15 minutes, while eliminating the need for passengers to handle boarding passes and passports at the time of boarding. Testing on the system for arriving passengers proved equally efficient at reducing processing delays.

"CBP is thrilled to be working with our long standing partner the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority as they become the first U.S. airport to incorporate facial biometric capability for international arrivals and departures," said Todd Owen, Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations. "Together, CBP and GOAA are going to change the face of travel making it more secure and efficient."

The system will be implemented at the 30 MCO gates having international departures and at CBP checkpoints located in the airport’s two Federal Inspection Stations.

How the Exit process works:

  • Prior to boarding, CBP generates biometric templates of the historical images (including passport and visa photos) of travelers for a given flight and temporarily stores them in the Virtual Private Cloud.
  • Each traveler approaches the departure gate during boarding to stand for a photo, which is captured by a camera, operated by airlines/airport authorities.
  • The matching service verifies the traveler's identity by comparing the best photo taken prior to boarding to the historical images in the CBP database. Once verified, the passenger can board.

How the Entry process works:

  • CBP uses airline manifest data to retrieve existing traveler photographs from government databases, including passports and visas, to build a photo gallery of travelers who are expected to arrive in the United States.
  • At the inspection booth, CBP captures a photograph of the traveler and matches it to a photograph in the pre-assembled gallery.
  • After the matching service verifies the traveler’s identity, the CBP Officer conducts an inspection to establish the purpose and intent of travel and thus either directs the traveler to baggage claim or refers the traveler to secondary for further inspection.

GOAA’s partnership with CBP to use facial biometric matching to expedite the international travel process is expected to transform travel to and from the United States by greatly reducing the need for passengers to continually present identity documentation at multiple stops along the passenger journey.

"With a faster and more secure clearance process, airlines, airports, and travelers will benefit from shorter processing times and standardized arrival procedures," says Phil Brown, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Chief Executive Officer. "Identity verification through biometric technology complements our long-term vision for safe, secure and seamless travel from curb to gate The total cost for the Biometric Entry and Exit program includes the equipment and installation of Biometric Passenger processing system as well as related costs for power, low voltage wiring, and cameras.

Funding for the program will be provided from Capital Expenditures Funds. The final step in approving the request for unbudgeted expenditures will be concurrence from the Orlando City Council.

Basic MCO information:
Ranked by J.D. Power "Highest in Customer Satisfaction for Mega Airports" in 2017. With 45 million annual passengers, MCO is the busiest airport in Florida and 11th busiest in the U.S. MCO has 21,000 badged employees and generates $31 billion in revenue for the regional economy. Orlando International Airport strives to value and delight its customers through an airport-wide design concept known as The Orlando Experience®.