Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

March 21 2016

How Your Airport Experience Could Look By 2020

David McMillin

Mobile boarding passes are so 2016. While using your smartphone to skip the printing kiosk might seem convenient, one company is already aiming to eliminate devices from the passenger experience. If it succeeds, going to the airport may feel a bit like a sci-fi movie.

SITA, an air transport communications and IT firm, is designing a system based on facial biometrics. Rather than having airport employees compare the face from a passport or ID card with the person in front of them, the technology verifies the face with confirmed personal information from their online check-in or the kiosk at the airport. It’s called a single-token system, and it’s built to create a strong link between their identity and their travel documentation. It eliminates the need for anyone — the employees at the self-baggage drop, security agents, the gate agents — to verify your ID and boarding pass.

Looks convenient, right? But won’t this take forever to implement? While upgrading to use this technology might seem like it should be a lengthy process, SITA says it’s already working with major airlines and airports to integrate biometrics into the passenger experience. Since the company already works with more than 30 governments, the infrastructure investment isn’t as massive as one might expect. The company predicts that biometrics will be the normal procedure by 2020.

The technology looks promising for the passenger experience, but I don’t imagine that employees at airports will no longer exist. In fact, each time I have recently attempted to use a photo scanning system for my face while traveling, there is some sort of challenge, and I’ve only wound up joining a line of other travelers whose faces and passports somehow didn’t support the “ease” factor of this type of system. We had to go the primitive route: talking to a real human being.

SITA will continue to work to make biometrics a reality, but your time at the airport isn’t the only piece of the experience that’s going to change. Click here to learn how one company is planning to make going to the bathroom on a plane better.

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