Heathrow airport will undertake a £50 million “biometric” departures trial, which could speed up passengers’ journeys from check-in to take-off by up to a third.
The airport will test facial recognition technology at check-in, bag drops, security and self-boarding gates to allow passengers to transition seamlessly through the hub.
According to Heathrow, research by Iata shows nearly two-third of passengers (64%) would be willing to share biometric data in return for a smoother journey.
Its ultimate aim is to enable passengers to walk through the airport end-to-end “without breaking their stride”. Partial trials have been taking place throughout 2018, with Heathrow planning a full-scale rollout in summer 2019.
Facial recognition technology, says Heathrow, could consolidate and replace all current ID and documentation required to board, such as passports, boarding cards and booking references, and increase security.
Jonathan Coen, Heathrow customer relations and service director, said the airport had to look for innovative ways to improve passenger transit as passenger numbers grow.
“With this technology, we’ll be able to offer passengers choice on how they travel through our airport, with colleagues on hand to guide passengers that require it.
“Biometric technology has been well received by our passengers so far and we’re looking forward to working with our colleagues and the airline community as part of our ongoing transformation at Heathrow, with a focus on enhancing passenger experience.”