Wednesday, 21st August 2019

Heathrow Airport exploring biometric travel for passengers

Heathrow is working with Yoti to streamline the airport experience using mobile biometrics instead of paper documents.

Heathrow Airport is working with digital identity app Yoti on a trial that enables passengers to travel using their smartphone and biometrics, instead of traditional travel documents - with the aim of streamlining the passenger experience.


With 78 million passengers last year, Heathrow Airport is a leading international hub.[1] As annual passenger volumes rise, airlines and airports are transforming the airport journey with innovative technology, aiming to reduce queue times, increase security standards and deliver enhanced customer experiences. With user privacy and data security at its core, Yoti helps deliver seamless travel experiences using biometric digital identities.


Yoti enables individuals to provide their passport details and facial biometric, which when combined with a boarding pass at point of booking or check in, allows those people to pass through the airport using their face instead of a boarding pass and passport. The new technology will be a first for the UK’s only hub airport and will streamline the passenger journey through Heathrow from check-in to take-off – which could reduce the average passenger’s journey time by up to a third.


Currently, manual authentication means that passengers need to present different forms of ID such as boarding cards, booking reference numbers as well as their passports to different agents to show that they’re authorised to travel. By offering passengers the option to use their biometrics, they will have the choice to streamline that process and significantly reduce the amount of paper used when flying. 


IATA research shows that 64% of passengers would choose to share their biometric data in exchange for a better experience when travelling. Facial biometrics are more accurate than manual checks and offer increased security, demonstrating how technology helps without impacting on the passenger experience.  


Heathrow has already begun using facial recognition in some stages of the passenger journey, both on entry to the UK at the Border with the biometric e-gates. The technology is also used for domestic journeys through the airport, but this will be the first time that Heathrow will use the technology at every stage of the departing passenger’s journey. This has the potential to allow for greater personalisation of passenger services.


Yoti Head of Transport, Government & Borders Gavin Watts commented, “With passenger numbers predicted to double over the next 20 years, the airline industry is looking to maximise airport capacity, maintain safe borders and streamline the passenger experience. We're really pleased to be involved in trials with Heathrow, and look forward to working with them to shape the future of travel.


“Yoti gives individuals a secure, verified digital identity, which they will be able to use for a seamless journey through the airport. They won’t need to dig around for passports and paper documents; their face will be the only thing they need. We’re excited to progress trials with Heathrow and this partnership is a great milestone in our journey.”


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