Biometrics will play a key part in transforming the airport experience at hubs across the globe.

Biometric technology has been around for many years but is finally becoming robust enough to simplify the passenger journey. Face, iris, and fingerprint technologies are all viable. These will make manual document checks the exception rather than the rule, with most passengers undergoing biometric identity verification.

At Atlanta, for example, some of Delta’s international passengers have an option to use facial recognition instead of a boarding pass. Biometrics are a key part of the airline’s strategy to transform the airport experience.

A survey found that the majority of customers preferred the biometric system as it stopped them worrying about their physical boarding pass. It also freed up staff to deal with more complex situations. 

Aside from the technical challenge, there are regulatory and cultural hurdles to consider. Privacy is also a concern

But the real key to the success of biometric identification is collaboration. Airlines, airport and government systems have to share data—ideally on a global basis. Designing an interoperable environment is challenging, though. The US system, for example, must connect with European or Asian systems and the overall ecosystem must provide passenger solutions that deliver a similar travel experience.

In theory, this will simplify and shorten the end-to-end journey as opposed to one specific element such as customs clearance or boarding. A speedy departure process must be matched on arrival at the destination. 

Aside from the technical challenge, there are regulatory and cultural hurdles to consider. Privacy is also a concern. Transparency in how individual data is used and stored will be vital to winning passenger confidence.

But once in place, an overarching system has exciting possibilities. Hotels or other facilities and amenities could be included.

Looking ahead, mobile technology provides new opportunities for a real passenger-driven process and will eliminate the need for the centralized elements of today’s biometric solutions.

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