American Airlines Adds Passport Scanning to Mobile App

The next iteration of quick and seamless airport check-ins will come from scanning passports directly into a phone.

Need to Know

  • American Airlines has introduced a new passport chip scanner to its mobile app.
  • It’s estimated that by 2020, 80% of global passengers will use a self-service device when checking in at the airport.
  • American Airlines is the second-largest airline in the world in terms of revenue, trailing only Delta.


American Airlines has introduced a new passport scanning feature to its mobile app, shaving valuable time off of passenger check-in. The new secure scanning feature reads a chip embedded in passports and will eliminate the need for an airline agent to scan a traveler’s passport at the airport.  

In total, American Airlines operates over 940 planes, flying 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries.

Passport control during international flights is notoriously time-consuming. In recent years, most major airports have begun installing automated passport control kiosks to save time. Passengers will complete their identification process independently through a kiosk, and then simply show a confirmation receipt. 

Since Chicago O’Hare Airport first implemented this type of kiosk in 2013, the ID process has greatly improved. The kiosks reduce stress for passengers, results in fewer mistakes and unfair denial or boarding, and has resulted in reduced departure delays. 

American Airlines’ new update is the next iteration in reinventing the identification process. Now, when American Airlines passengers check in on the mobile app, they are asked to enter some basic passport information and are then prompted to scan their passport using their smartphone. The passport still needs to be shown at the gate during boarding, but won’t need to be opened and scanned, saving time for both passengers and airline employees. 

As the number of air travelers increases, it’s essential for airlines and airports to invest in technology to streamline the check-in process. In 2018, over 2 million travelers moved through American airports every single single day, a 5.5% increase from the year prior. 

It’s estimated that by 2020, 80 percent of global passengers will use a self-service device, such as kiosks or check-in apps. These services will save up to $2.1 billion for the travel industry, reducing lines, freeing up space in facilities, and enabling passengers to have full control of their travels and speeding up the process. 

Well, Spanish airline Iberia is already testing a facial recognition app using biometric technology. Essentially a technology-advanced “selfie”, this feature could eliminate the need to show travel documents altogether.