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Airline Biometric Boarding Deployment Will Rise By Over 60% By 2024

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Biometric boarding has been praised by airlines in recent years thanks to the efficiency that it brings to their services. With effectiveness in mind, 62% of carriers will have self-boarding gates utilizing biometric and ID documentation by 2024.

Boeing 737 landing
There have been many revolutions in the aviation industry over the last half a decade, and this trend is set to continue into the mid-2020s. Photo: Getty Images

Increasing importance

Airports across the globe have been increasingly utilizing biometric solutions in recent years. The technology involved has been around for some time, with security gates deploying related systems well. Nonetheless, biometrics usage has been scaling up as of late.

Biometric-powered identity management is continuing to increase in importance. This aspect is showcased in SITA’s 2021 Air Transport IT Insights. SITA is a core IT provider for the air transport industry, and it highlights that 22% of carriers had self-boarding gates using biometric and ID documentation in place last year. The number of airlines using these processes is set to rise to 62% by 2024.

Additionally, half of the airlines are expected to have self-boarding gates using biometric only by 2024. This is a significant increase from just 5% of carriers in 2020.

Airlines, alliances, and airports all see massive opportunities with biometrics. From the Middle East to North America, the aviation industry has been trialing and introducing the technology across operations.

Biometrics SITA
The breakdown of biometric-powered identity management implementation and forecasts as reported by SITA, in the organization’s 2021 Air Transport IT Insights report – there are notable increases in the three core departments. Photo: SITA

Taking it to the next level

Biometric identification has been trusted upon by security teams thanks to its ability to reliably verify identities. This effectiveness is something that’s increasingly being appreciated by other airport departments.

The tech can save airlines an incredible amount of time when it comes to boarding. For instance, Lufthansa proved that it is able to board an entire Airbus A380 in just 20 minutes with biometric scanning. Additionally, there are broader efficiency advantages to be had, helping airlines to keep on top of operational costs. For instance, carriers can redeploy staff members to other areas at the airport or the company rather than having agents manually board passengers.

It is human nature for a staff member to tired during a shift of documents validation. This factor leads to chances of error. However, a biometric camera will perform at the same high level of accuracy and quality after hours of usage. As a result, the quality of the checks is greater.

While biometric deployment is increasing, so is traveler acceptance of the technology. In a recent poll by Amadeus, a leading travel tech firm that is entrusted by airlines around the world, 40% of passengers surveyed said facial recognition technology would increase their confidence to travel in the next year, which is a rise from 30% before.

Istanbul Getty
Airports across the continents are seeing overhauls – for instance, the new Istanbul Airport is considering a biometric future, weighing up how it can use biometrics to expedite passport control procedures for Turkish citizens. Photo: Getty Images

New requirements

Overall, the pandemic is catalyzing biometrics utilization and passenger confidence. This is because biometrics are touchless by definition. Therefore, fliers have been noticing overhauls at airports when flying with major airlines. For example, Emirates rolled out a fully biometric experience in Dubai due to the rise of the global health crisis. The carrier has been continuing to upgrade its offering in this department ever since, expanding into the new year amid partnerships with cloud organizations.

As SITA puts it, a passenger’s mobile is now their remote control and their face is now their boarding card. The group has introduced several initiatives with the revolution. One such measure is the launch of Smart Path. This is a suite of integrated biometric and cloud-enabled solutions formed to provide low-touch airport journeys for better efficiency and advanced customer satisfaction.

“Mobile, web-based, and automated services continue to grow and dominate how passengers engage with airlines and pass through the airport. Through check-in, bag drop, boarding, and baggage reclaim, increasing numbers of airlines now offer self-service options supported by real-time data,” SITA shares in its 2021 Air Transport IT Insights report.

“As airlines adjust to the gradual recovery of passenger numbers, they have accelerated investments in initiatives at the airport while maintaining the same priorities. Self-service solutions to help airlines face irregular operations remained the top priority this year (91%, with a significant increase in major programs investments). Biometric ID management solutions for passengers continue to see considerable investment (76%). Also high on the agenda are rolling out touchless solutions for passengers and staff (73%) and integrating health and safety services for both passengers and staff (72%).”

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Expansions across the board

Digital solutions will have a far greater presence across the passenger airport journey. All operators are expected to offer web check-in by 2024. Also, 65% of these airlines are anticipated to have automated check-in in place by the same year. Furthermore, unassisted bag drop offerings will increase to 90% by 2024. The figure is already 69%, which is up from 50% in 2020.

NEC Corp Trials New Face Recognition System At Narita International Airport
The check-in and bag drop processes go hand in hand, and with biometric systems, passengers are no longer required to show identification or boarding passes at critical points of the airport journey. Photo: Getty Images

Despite the boost in unassisted bag drops, there will still be a helping hand at the airport in two years. 89% of airlines will offer assisted bag drop, just 1% less than unassisted. This percentage is up from 73% today.

All in all, with so many uncertainties remaining across the aviation spectrum, it’s not a surprise that airlines are investing in technology that will help to reduce risk while offering consistency. On the passenger-facing side, touchless and biosafety solutions remain a top priority in this next chapter.

What are your thoughts about airlines becoming increasingly keen to implement biometric boarding at the airports that they serve? What do you make of the overall insights when it comes to airport technology investment? Let us know what you think of the industry’s prospects in the comment section.

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