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How Lufthansa boards an A380 in about 20 minutes with biometric technology

Bjoern Becker

Senior Director, Product Management Ground and Digital Services, Lufthansa

You’d think it takes a little magic to quickly board several hundred passengers on the world’s largest passenger plane. But Lufthansa and Amadeus didn’t need magic to make this possible. With the power of biometrics, we’ve developed a solution that boards passengers with hassle-free, one-step facial recognition.

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It’s a simple process that we’ve piloted at Los Angeles International Airport. Self-boarding gates with cameras capture passengers’ images. This image is securely sent to the U.S. Customs & Border Protection database for real-time verification. After a successful instantaneous match, the system recognizes the passenger as ‘boarded’. The passenger does not need to show their boarding pass or passport at the boarding gate any more. During initial trials, we’ve received very positive feedback from guests. In fact, we boarded approximately 350 guests onto an A380 in about 20 minutes.

Collaboration has been the key to this innovative project. Amadeus helped build the interfaces between Lufthansa’s Departure Control System (Altéa), the gate hardware was provided by Vision Box, and U.S. Customs & Border Protection provided the database to identify passengers. All of these parties worked together to make the travel experience smoother.

There's an increasing need for airlines, airports, and authorities to offer faster processes to travelers. This technology helps them move through the airport smoothly and creates a unique opportunity for the use of biometrics. We strive to enhance the customer experience by applying advanced technologies and innovative solutions. This is a further step towards achieving that goal. We expect that in the near future, biometric boarding will be widely utilized across and beyond the U.S.