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5 ways airport biometrics have revolutionised air travel

11 July 2023

At Arana Security we are dedicated to providing cutting-edge biometric solutions that help improve security, provide a better customer experience, and transform how we go about our daily lives. In this article, we’ll discuss how airport biometrics are revolutionising the way we travel.


Airport biometrics have already transformed air travel, and as technology advances and the biometrics industry grows, we can expect even bigger changes in the coming years. From biometric boarding to enhanced border security, biometrics have created a much more seamless, secure, and passenger-centric airport experience.


Airports around the world have been slowly implementing new biometric systems for more than 20 years.  The introduction of digital id to increase airport security in the wake of 9/11, kicked off the beginning of airport digitisation. It wasn’t until the Covid pandemic hit that we witnessed a rapid escalation in biometric transformation at airports worldwide. The latest SITA insights report has estimated that by 2024, 60% of all airports will have invested in biometric technology. 


How does it work? 

Each individual has unique characteristics that can be used for biometric identification. These characteristics include fingerprints, gait, palm prints, iris patterns, and facial patterns. Because no two persons can have the same biometrics, biometric technology uses these unique identifiers in place of passwords, pins and photo id for a more secure and accurate level of identity verification. The financial sector is also using similar biometric methods successfully to help enhance its security and improve accessibility.


Passengers can opt-in to share their biometrics remotely before they travel to the airport, and once they arrive they will be instantly verified via cameras or scanners at each touchpoint. Many airports now have this technology available for check-in, security checks, baggage drop, and boarding. This negates the need to carry passports, boarding cards or any other documents required. 


Here are the top 5 ways that using airport biometric technology for air travel has revolutionised the industry.


1. Biometric boarding 

Many airports have adopted biometric boarding procedures, where passengers advance through the boarding process themselves using facial recognition screens. The biometric software will analyse the image in seconds, and compare it with the image the passenger shared remotely before arriving at the airport. When the match is confirmed, the passenger can board without showing a passport or boarding pass, and without interacting with airline staff. 


Biometric boarding has proven to be much more efficient than traditional boarding. The biometric system has been shown to halve the normal average boarding times at Los Angeles International Airport, boarding around 400 people in 20 minutes. In 2022, Korean Air launched biometric boarding using palm scanners for domestic flights from Seoul Gimpo International Airport as part of plans to minimise wait times, speed up boarding, and improve overall customer experience. 


2. Hygiene 

The outbreak of the Covid pandemic emphasised the need to improve health and safety procedures in airports worldwide. With millions of people travelling through airports each year, and with numerous touch points throughout the journey, it became apparent that airports have the potential to be a breeding ground for the spread of illness and disease. 


Digital identification at the various stages of air travel has helped decrease this risk by eliminating unnecessary contact between security agents, airline and other airport staff, and passengers. Contactless machines and facial recognition technology have negated the need to pass documents back and forth or interact with touchscreens.


3. Paperless travel 

The removal of physical paper documents from airport travel is not only more hygienic, but it has also made the customer experience much more seamless. In the past, passengers have been required to carry passports, boarding passes, vaccination cards, and visas. Biometrics allows passengers to use their unique characteristics instead of carrying various documents which they may forget or lose.


4. Border security 

In the wake of terrorist incidents, increased criminal activity, and the Covid pandemic, there has been a push to improve and streamline border security. 

These issues that have resulted in heightened security have increased wait times and congestion. When security systems become under more stress and have limited resources to deal with busier checkpoints, the result is often that criminals have an opportunity to get past these checks unnoticed. Biometric e-gates have been highly successful in tackling these issues by cutting down waiting times and quickly detecting criminal activity. Documents can be falsified but faking biometrics is nearly impossible.


For more information about how biometrics are improving global border security, you can read our article


5. Biometric luggage drop 

Airports across the world have begun testing self-bag drop systems using biometric photo matching. Spirit Airlines tested this system in Chicago and New York and found that time spent checking bags was reduced by 30%. 


Airport biometrics have helped create a more user-friendly, streamlined customer experience at the airport, that is more hygienic and provides greater security. As biometric technology advances, we are likely to see more transformations in how we travel. 


If you want to find out how we could help make your business more efficient and secure, book a consultation today.