British Airways has become the first UK airline to trial the use of biometric technology for international flights. As part of the evaluation of this tool, travellers participating in the study will be able to move through the departure airport without the need to show their physical 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 trial of its kind that the company will carry out. In 2017, it became the first British carrier to introduce biometric technology into domestic flight processes. Since then, it has been used to search passengers’ faces in the security screening area and at boarding gates.
Testing biometric technology for international flights
Airline customers starting their journey at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 can opt to participate in the initiative. They will then need to scan their face, the current passport they will be using and their boarding pass using a smartphone or digital tablet before travelling. The information will be kept secure at all times, the airline explained.
When they arrive at the terminal, their identity will be verified in seconds with Smart Bio-Pod cameras, which were developed for this purpose. Customers will also be able to register their identity at various touch points in Zone B of the check-in area. As an incentive, British Airways informed that participants will be able to use the fast lane at the security area and will 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 will remain in place. While passengers will able to leave the United Kingdom without having to show their passport, the requirement at their destination airport will not change.
Initially, the trial will run for six months on British Airways flights between London Heathrow Airport and Málaga, Spain. The measure could then be replicated on the airline’s other routes.
“Not only is this the first time that our customers have been able to register their biometric information at home, but it’s the first time they can use it for British Airways’ international flights”, said David Breeze, the airline’s Operations Transformation Manager. “This is a secure and efficient tool that makes for a smarter and smoother airport experience, which will reduce the time it takes us to board aircraft”, he added.
“The beauty of this technology is that it also frees our people up to look after more complex customer enquiries and deliver the best possible customer service”, Breeze remarked.