Air Canada Launches Digital Identification for Passengers

Air Canada has become the first Canadian airline to launch digital identification for its passengers.

On selected flights from Vancouver International Airport (YVR), when boarding flights to Winnipeg, passengers can now use facial recognition technology to confirm identification.

How Does the Air Canada Digital Identification Work?

Air Canada
Digital credentials will be securely encrypted via the mobile app. © Air Canada

There are three steps to creating a digital profile for digital identification on the Air Canada mobile app. Before the three steps open up the app, select the home tab from the secondary menu on the left, select ‘personal data,’ then select ‘digital identification’ from the ‘Personal data’ section. Then follow the three steps for creating a digital profile.

  1. The app will prompt you to take a picture of your passport, scan the passport chip, and then take a selfie. Facial recognition will take measurements of your face in both images, compare them, and authenticate if the photos match.
  2. A digital profile will be created on your mobile device if you are successful. It will contain only your selfie, a unique identifier, and details from your passport.
  3. Your facial biometrics are immediately deleted and will not remain part of your digital profile.

To create a digital profile, all app users must be over 18. Anyone under 18 still is required to show their boarding pass and government ID.

Passengers must use a mobile device compatible with Apple iOS 13+ and Android 7.0+ to complete the profile. Also, remember your government ID to complete the authentication process.

To use the digital ID for the trip, go to your gate number at Vancouver International Airport. You will be asked to confirm that you’d like to use facial recognition for that trip by tapping the “Yes, I consent to the use of my facial biometrics button.”

The Canadian airline has assured passengers that a digital profile is securely encrypted. The facial biometrics are immediately deleted, and the biometric faceprint in the day-of-travel gallery is encrypted and deleted within 36 hours of the departure of your flight.

Digital ID is voluntary, and passengers do not have to participate. They can show as normal their boarding pass and government ID instead.

More information about the digital identification system can be found here.

A Simplified and Seamless Process

Passengers using facial recognition technology will be able to have a seamless boarding option without the need for paper.

Craig Landry, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at Air Canada, said:

“Many of our customers already utilize digital credentials to simplify their daily activities such as unlocking mobile phones, entering workplaces, verifying identification during financial transactions, and more. We are very excited to take a leadership position in Canada and test digital identification using facial recognition technology to validate customer identification quickly, securely, and accurately at select airport touchpoints. Participation in digital identification is voluntary. Customers using the digital identification system will benefit from a simplified and seamless process at the gate and when entering our Maple Leaf Lounges.”

The Minister of Transport for the Canadian government, Omar Alghabra, said:

“Our government and Canadian airlines and airports are eager to move forward with innovative solutions and technologies to modernize the traveller journey in airports across the country, which would enable a more seamless and efficient air transportation system. Air Canada’s pilot project will speed up processes at YVR and other airports where it’s established while respecting robust privacy measures and security standards. This project has great potential in making gate boarding easier and faster for Canadian passengers while maintaining strong safety measures.”

What do you think of the digital identification scheme? Let us know in the comments below.

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Gabriella Van Jennians
Gabriella Van Jennians
Gabriella is an aspiring Journalist from the UK. She holds a BA Journalism degree from the University of Lincoln, where she has learnt various writing and production skills to help her break into the industry. Gabriella joined Travel Radar in 2022 and hopes to learn and gain experience writing for the aviation sector.