London Heathrow is to streamline the passenger
journey from check-in to take-off, with new biometric technology
that is designed to reduce the average passenger’s journey time by
up to a third.
The new technology uses facial recognition at
check-in, bag drops, security lanes and boarding gates to create a
seamless experience for passengers travelling through the airport.
The £50 million project is part of a wider
programme of investment to streamline passenger journeys and once
complete will mean that Heathrow will have one of the world’s largest
deployments of biometric products.
Currently, manual authentication means that
passengers need to present different forms of ID such as boarding
cards, booking reference numbers as well as their passports to
different agents to show that they’re authorised to travel. By
offering passengers the option to use more instant facial
recognition technology they will have the choice to streamline
that process and collectively significantly reduce the amount of
paper used when flying.
The long-term aim of the technology will
be for passengers to be able to walk through the airport without
breaking their stride. Something, it seems, most travellers would
welcome. IATA research shows that 64% of passengers would
choose to share their biometric data in exchange for a better
experience when travelling. Facial biometrics are more accurate
than manual checks and offer increased security, demonstrating how
technology helps us without impacting on passenger experience.
Heathrow has already begun using facial
recognition in some stages of the passenger journey, both on entry
to the UK at the Border with the biometric e-gates. The technology
is also used for domestic journeys through the airport, but this
will be the first time that Heathrow will use the technology at
every stage of the departing passenger’s journey. This has the
potential to allow for greater personalisation of passenger
services, useful for passengers requiring additional assistance.
Heathrow Customer Relations and Service Director,
Jonathan Coen, said, “As our passenger numbers continue to grow, we
must look for innovative ways to make it easier and quicker for
them to travel through Heathrow with choice, whilst keeping our
airport secure. Biometrics are key to helping us do that and we
are really excited about the biggest roll out of this equipment at
any UK airport. With this technology we’ll be able to offer
passengers choice on how they travel through our airport, with
colleagues on hand to guide passengers that require it. Biometric
technology has been well received by our passengers so far and
we’re looking forward to working with our colleagues and the
airline community as part of our ongoing transformation at
Heathrow, with a focus on enhancing passenger experience.”
The full-scale roll out of the new biometric
services will take place from the summer of 2019.