British Airways is the first UK airline to pilot the use of biometric technology on international flights. As part of the evaluation of this tool, the travelers participating in the study can move through the departure airport without having to show their passport, as is traditionally the case.
The technology to be used was developed by Amadeus and adapted to the needs of British Airways.
This is the second attempt of this kind that the company will conduct. In 2017, it became the first UK airline to introduce biometric technology in domestic flight procedures. Since then, it has been used to search passengers’ faces in the security check area and at the boarding gates.
Testing biometric technology for international flights
Airline customers beginning their journey from Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport can choose to participate in the initiative. They must then scan their face, the current passport they will be using and their boarding pass with a smartphone or digital tablet prior to travel. The information will be kept secure at all times, the airline said.
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Once they arrive at the terminal, their identity is verified in a matter of seconds using specially developed Smart Bio-Pod cameras. Customers can also register their identity at various touchpoints in Zone B of the check-in area. As an incentive, British Airways said attendees will be able to use the fast lane in the security area and have priority boarding free of charge.
Participants will be directed to a customer service representative should they require assistance with the process.
The need to carry a physical passport remains. While passengers can leave the UK without having to show their passport, the requirements at their destination airport remain the same.
The test will initially run for six months on British Airways flights between London Heathrow Airport and Malaga, Spain. The measure could then be replicated on the airline’s other routes.
“Not only is this the first time our customers have been able to enroll their biometrics at home, it is also the first time they have been able to use them on British Airways’ international flights,” said David Breeze, the airline’s operations transformation manager. “This is a safe and efficient tool that will deliver a smarter and smoother airport experience, reducing the time it takes us to board planes,” he added.
“The beauty of this technology is that it also empowers our staff to take care of more complex customer inquiries and provide the best possible customer service,” noted Breeze.
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