Wait times at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspection checkpoints will be cut by nearly half after facial comparison technology launches at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) on Feb. 19. Hobby Airport is the first in Texas to have full biometric entry and exit for passengers who are traveling internationally.
“The Houston Airport System enjoys a strong partnership with CPB, and we are pleased to once again be chosen to launch very important technology that will enhance the travel experience for the one million international passengers traveling through Hobby Airport,” said Houston Aviation Director Mario Diaz. “This is an important step to realize our goal of becoming a 5-star airport.”
The enhanced entry process complements the biometric exit process that CBP, Houston Airports (HAS) and Southwest Airlines introduced in November 2018. In 2017, George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) was one of only three airports in the nation to deploy facial recognition technology when a pilot program for biometric exiting was launched for a daily flight operated by United Airlines from Houston to Tokyo.
“CBP is committed to working with our partners to ensure that the travel system is secure and efficient,” said Houston Director of Field Operations Judson W. Murdock II.
“The speed, accuracy and reliability of facial comparison technology enable CBP officers to confirm a traveler’s identity within seconds while further enhancing the customer experience.”
When international travelers arrive at the airport, they will pause for a photo at the primary inspection point. CBP’s biometric facial matching service will compare the new photo of the traveler to images that the traveler previously provided to the government, such as passport and visa photos. If a traveler cannot be matched to a photo on record, the CBP officer will process the traveler manually.
Travelers who wish to opt out of the new biometric process may notify an officer as they approach the primary inspection point. Travelers who opt out of the new biometric process will be required to present a valid travel document for manual identity verification by a CBP officer and processed consistent with existing requirements for entry into the United States.