Heathrow Airport trials new biometric departure technology

04 Mar

Compare Car HireHeathrow passengers are the first in the world to use an revolutionary technology as component of the airport’s drive to further enhance the passenger experience. Terminal 1 passengers are being asked to participate in a 2 month ‘self-boarding’ trial in collaboration with South African Airways, which makes use of biometric data to help them board their flights quicker and more efficiently.

Once passengers arrive at the ‘self-boarding’ gate, they pass through an automatic electronic barrier which takes an infrared scan of their face. This data is verified against the biometric data that was taken at the check-in stage. When the 2 sets of data scans are successfully met, the barrier opens and the passenger can pass through and board their flight. The technology means that a passenger’s identification only needs to be checked by airline staff once during the whole departure process, minimising the amount of time it takes for passengers to reach their seats in readiness for departure.

The technology also enables airline personnel to invest more time with those passengers who need more assistance. The personal data is stored securely and will be deleted at the end of the trial.

Heathrow’s Terminal 1 Director Ian Hanson said: “We are working in partnership with our airlines to trial this technology which should help make our passengers’ journeys smoother and simpler. Since its introduction we have had positive feedback from both airlines and passengers.’

To date over 300 South African Airways passengers have elected to use the technology as part of their departure passage.

New technologies are already being used by passengers in the course of the departure process, from checking in via mobile phones, ‘self-service bag drops’ to automated ticket presentation prior to passenger security. Introduced in November 2012, the self service bag drop permits passengers to produce and attach their own bag tags before putting their luggage onto the automated bag drop facility.

Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in Europe and the 3rd largest in the world in terms of passenger numbers. Car Hire Assistant provides a car rental price comparison service for travellers to and from Heathrow airport.


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