insights and news

Biometric security for the Air Travel Sector

26 June 2020

The development of biometric security technology has paved the way for significant changes in the way passengers experience air travel.  The current COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the global shift towards the increased use and reliance on biometrics in the air travel industry. The sudden heightened need for a contact-free approach to many processes and services across most industries has highlighted several benefits of using biometric security systems. With the air travel industry being one of the hardest affected by the global pandemic, its future is dependant on creating changes to the current system quickly. There is an immediate need to provide both employees and passengers with the tools they need to move through the airports with increased safety and efficiency.

The use of biometric security systems will make the travel experience more comfortable for passengers at the same time as increasing the efficacy for the airports to move travellers through in a way that will not compromise on the security or safety.

How can Biometrics Help?

The use of biometric security systems will help to improve the travel experience for passengers while also giving a higher level of assurances in relation to the risks emphasised by the current pandemic. Such systems will also help to create the added benefit for airports by moving passengers through in a way that is more efficient but does not compromise on security or safety of passengers and staff.

The biological identifiers such as fingerprints, iris scans and face-recognition are so unique to individuals that they can be used to identify a person with certainty that cannot be matched by the paper-based identification documents. Which brings about the potential for using our unique biometric data to authenticate ourselves for our journeys by mobile device or in airport terminals without the need for ID documents

1,200 million electronic passports are in use across more than 120 different countries globally. And 1.2 billion photos accessible in a standardised format by face recognition systems. So, the foundations have been set for implementation of face recognition technology that will benefit all involved. Using automated systems would solve for the bottlenecks in passenger flow which can be a big issue for airports at peak travel times. With the passenger numbers expected to double by 2030 reaching a predicted 5.9 billion, passenger flow will become more challenging across the world’s busy airports.

The use of face recognition can be expanded beyond security and check-in processes to include other airport services, such as paying for duty-free shopping, thus further streamlining and simplifying the airport experience for passengers.  It’s possible to even further extend the uses of this technology beyond the airport and on to the aircrafts themselves to allow in-flight staff to provide much more personalised and higher quality of service.

The benefit of biometrics within airports is not only limited to the passengers but can be useful for identifying staff members and controlling the access to sensitive locations which in turn will lead to higher levels of security in a place that can be highly vulnerable.

With several trials currently happening, along with those planned in the near future, in airports across the globe using various biometric technologies, the air travel industry is being upgraded and subsequently bringing benefits to all.