Sydney Airport partners with Qantas Airways to trial new biometric technology that will enable customers to have a seamless travel experience using facial recognition.
Seamless Travel Experience
Select Sydney Airport passengers travelling on Qantas Airways internationally will be able to use biometrics technology with facial recognition processing to have a more seamless travel experience by completing most stages of their airport journey using their face as their access identification.
Sydney Airport and Qantas Airways
During the first phase of the trial, customers would be able to use facial recognition for automated check-in, bag drop, lounge access and boarding. A future phase would include mobile check-in and automated border processing with the Australian Border Force. It is the first time that biometric technology would be used for lounge access by Qantas Airways and any of its oneworld alliance partners.
Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said the trial is the most extensive biometrics trial to date and is part of a broader focus on investing in technology to make the airport experience easier and more convenient for passengers.
“We’re very excited that select Qantas passengers now have the chance to experience this highly sophisticated technology as part of this landmark trial,” he said.
“We’ve worked with Qantas from the outset and are delighted to be partnering with them as we trial this technology.
“In the future, there will be no more juggling passports and bags at check-in and digging through pockets or smartphones to show your boarding pass – your face will be your passport and your boarding pass at every step of the process.”
Qantas Chief Customer Officer Vanessa Hudson said the airline was focused on increasing the use of technology to drive innovation for customers.
“One of our core commitments at Qantas is to make travel as attractive, convenient and enjoyable as possible,” Ms Hudson said.
“There is an increasing need for airlines and airports to offer faster and more convenient airport experiences and we’re excited to see what results the trial produces.
“Qantas customers will not only be able to check-in for their flight using the technology, it is also available for our lounge staff who can create a more personalized experience when passengers arrive.”
Mr. Culbert emphasized Sydney Airport’s focus on investing in new technologies, such as facial recognition, to continually improve the experience of the 43 million+ passengers who pass through Sydney Airport each year. With that many people traveling through the airport, it’s understandably busy. This is why more innovative ways to speed up the check-in process are being thought of. An example of an existing technological advancement that is making life easier for Sydney Airport users is Parkhound Sydney. This helps people to park their cars at the airport much easier, improving their experience at the airport. Hopefully, this sort of positive experience will be continued through this new travel experience.
“I’m pleased that Sydney Airport is well advanced in our plans to deliver a full ‘couch-to-boarding gate’ facial recognition process,” he said. “It’s also great that we’ve been able to partner with an Australian airline to bring this technology to life.
“We’re excited to be leading the way with this technology and will continue to find innovative new ways to make our passengers’ journeys even more seamless.”
There are other full implementations of biometric technology solutions between airlines and airports. They include:
- Emirates with Dubai International Airport (DXB)
- Etihad Airways with Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)
- KLM with Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA)
In all instances, biometric technology was implemented to reduce manual checks at check-in, bag drop and boarding.
Benefits and Concerns
The use of biometric technology including fingerprints and facial recognition present many benefits and concerns. Travellers who embrace the use of this technology may be able to enjoy the benefits of a more seamless travel experience that is both speedy and efficient. In fact, 64% of the respondents from the latest International Air Transport Association (IATA) Global Passenger Survey would like to use a single biometric travel token for all travel transactions. Faster identification can lead better flow and throughput at airports without adding new floor space. Spots reserved for manual check-ins could be reclaimed or resized to create new travel experiences and generate new sources non-aeronautical revenue.
While using fingerprints and facial recognition technologies are not new in the travel industry, there are concerns over how it will be applied throughout the entire travel journey. Specifically, some travellers have questions on how the data would be collected, processed, stored, transferred and transformed. While governments around the world continue to work on defining and regulating the use of biometric technology in the travel industry, the approved standards may differ leading to confusion.
In The Future
As the implementation of biometric technology in the travel industry continues to mature, airline alliances will likely adopt one set of standards and suppliers to create a more seamless travel experience for their customers, member airlines and key airports. In the short run, the use of fingerprint technology would gain more acceptance over facial recognition as it has higher awareness by the world’s population through the current crop of mobile technology. This will change as facial recognition solutions found in Apple’s FACE ID and Samsung’s Iris Scanner take center stage.
Regulations would be introduced by different governmental bodies, IATA and airport authorities to manage how biometric data would be used throughout the travel journey. In particular, privacy and confidentiality concerns would be addressed accordingly.
Beyond traveller identification, airlines and airports will look to adopt this technology in creating a new set of travel experiences for their high yield frequent flyers as a way to differentiate its products and services against its competitors.
About Larry Leung and Experience The Skies
Larry Leung is the Director of Research and Strategy at Experience The Skies. He is a certified avgeek, a travelling consultant, a public speaker and a dessert and design enthusiast. Contact him through LinkedIn or Twitter.
Experience The Skies is a consulting company based in Toronto, Canada that specializes in the travel industry with focus on the assessment, competitive analysis and development of loyalty programs, technologies, marketing, ancillary revenue solutions. Follow Experience The Skies on Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard, and Instagram.