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Biometrics, taking the boredom out of boarding

Betros Wakim

SVP Americas, Airport IT, Amadeus

When travelling, people tend to fall into two camps. Those who arrive at the airport with hours to spare, making their way leisurely to their departure gate, browsing duty free and maybe stopping for some lunch. Then, there are those who get there just in time to race through security and head straight to departures.

Either way, it can be challenging for travelers to know exactly how much time they need to allow to board their plane, as this usually depends on how busy the airport will be. Airports themselves also wrestle with this issue. With relatively low passenger numbers travelers can flow easily through the airport, but with large, unexpected numbers arriving at once, queues can easily develop. This hinders operational efficiency, diminishes revenue opportunities, and frustrates travelers.

This is why it is vital that the industry develops innovative solutions that streamline processes for airports and airlines and enhance the passenger experience. Amadeus is constantly focused on this mission, never more so than with its recent project with Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport.

On February 11th, 2019, Amadeus successfully implemented an innovative biometric solution at a shared gate, using the Altéa Departure Control System  This deployment enables passengers to quickly board their flight without the need to present any boarding documents at the departure gate. Instead, using the Amadeus single-step US Exit Program biometric solution, the passengers breezed through the gate and boarded the plane effortlessly, while an imaging device placed in front of the boarding door captured their images, certified their identities, and informed airline staff of their boarding status. Once the system confirmed them as an authorized passenger, they were instantly cleared to board and made their way swiftly onto the aircraft.

Aside from treating travelers to a smooth and speedy service, this development holds great promise for airports and airlines thanks to its ability to create cost-savings, generate additional concession revenue, and boost efficiency. With less staff needed at departure gates, airlines can intelligently allocate their resources elsewhere, meaning that additional demand can be met more easily. By adopting solutions which streamline processes such as boarding, airports can better manage growing capacity constraints and respond in an efficient and flexible way to constantly changing passenger volumes. Regarding the data processed, we give the security of customer systems and data the highest priority. Security is at the heart of our systems in terms of applications design and operations.

This exciting innovation shows the potential for biometric technology within the airport environment, and as momentum grows in this area, it is a transformational time for the industry and all of it stakeholders. We are excited to be part of the future of travel, one where journeys are smoother, faster and passengers spend less time queueing and more time enjoying their journey.

Stay tuned for more updates on biometric technology applied to the airport space. 


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Traveler Experience