Biometric technology in airports – here’s what you need to know

When you’re in a rush to book a flight or when you’re distracted at the airport, it can be easy to miss the technology innovation on display around you. 

In a short period of time, the technology involved with air travel has evolved significantly. In particular, the introduction of biometrics is providing an end-to-end, safe and convenient experience for passengers. You may not have noticed, but whether you’re sitting at your computer at home completing your VISA application, or passing through an automated border control gate, biometric technology is reshaping the travel experience. 

The end-to-end process

So how is biometrics improving the end-to-end process? 

Before you reach the airport 

Before you even reach the airport, biometrics is improving your overall experience. To start, many states around the world now require biometric identification as part of the VISA application process. In the UK, for instance, you can share your digital identity – in the form of fingerprints or a facial scan – with the authorities to expedite your application and the pre-screening process. 

Moreover, airports are beginning to trial new forms of mobile check-in to provide a seamless and secure way of preparing passengers for their flight before travel. London’s Heathrow Airport, for instance, has partnered with Yoti to allow travellers to use their smartphones as a means of verifying their identity. Passengers use their faces to check-in and store the tickets on their phones, which are then used to authenticate the passenger’s identity during each touchpoint within the airport. 

Similarly, Elenium Automation is working in partnership with Etihad Airways to allow travellers to register their biometric data on their smartphone before starting a journey, which enables them to drop their bags without additional check-in, this having already been done automatically via facial recognition. The bags are then assigned to that biometric token, so no tags are required, and personalized information is provided via displays within the airport.

At the airport 

When you arrive at the airport, biometric technology is helping to automate the verification process, meaning that you move swiftly and safely through border control. It’s all about airlines delivering the best possible passenger experience for you. 

One way in which they have been doing this is through the integration of Automated Border Control technology or eGates, as they are more commonly known. eGates compare your passport to a photo capture of your face to verify you are who you say you are. It’s an easier, less intrusive and fast experience that can help combat fraud and it’s much more reliable than the traditional fingerprint scan. 

Moreover, biometrics is helping to remove the hassle of multiple checks while in the airport. Whether you’re purchasing goods in duty free or about to board the flight, biometrics will eliminate the need for you to present your boarding pass or passport to verify your identity. Instead, you will be a biometric token – based on facial recognition software – which allows you to move about the airport freely and securely. 

In-flight and on the other side

Biometrics does not stop improving the passenger experience when you’re in-flight either. Through the use of digital identities (in which your biometric data is stored) your personal information can be shared with border control to expedite the immigration process. Just think – no more long lines after you step off a flight, meaning you can relax on your holiday as soon as possible. 

Furthermore, as you’ve used biometrics to drop your luggage off before your flight, you can now use that same biometric ‘token’ to collect your bags hassle-free. 

All-in-all, it means getting to where you want to go, faster, efficiently and most importantly, in a secure fashion. 

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