British Airways is set to trial cutting-edge biometric boarding technology, allowing customers onto their planes without showing their passports.

According to the announcement made by the airline on 15th November, customers will be invited to trial the new technology on BA flights to Malaga, Spain, for the next six months.

a man boards using biometric gateway at heathrow airport
British Airways biometric boarding trial set to begin at London Heathrow | © British Airways

Biometric Boarding

Customers who sign up to participate in the trial, conducted from London Heathrow Terminal 5, will be required to scan their face, passport and boarding pass using an intelligent device ahead of travel.

Customers who have not completed these checks at home can do so at various touchpoints at Check-In Zone B.

On arrival at the airport, customers that have opted-in will be verified using Smart Bio-Pod cameras, confirming their identity within three seconds.

“This is a secure and efficient tool that makes for a smarter and smoother airport experience, which will reduce the time it takes us to board aircraft,” says Operations Transformation Manager for BA, David Breeze.

While it makes the boarding process efficient, it is only eligible for boarding, not arrivals. Customers will need to keep a tight hold of their passports and have them ready to show on arrival at their destination.

Successful Past Experiences

This exciting development in biometric boarding technology follows the introduction of similar improvements to domestic flights.

In 2017, BA became the first UK airline to introduce facial scanning technology at security, matching the scans to customers at the boarding gate.

Commenting on the development of this technology in the last five years, Mr Breeze added, “Not only is this the first time that our customers have been able to register their biometric information at home, but it’s the first time they can use it for British Airways’ international flights.”

A phone screen displaying the biometric boarding technology
Smart devices can be used to verify passenger identities | © British Airways

The Technology of the Future?

If the trial is successful, BA is expected to expand the technology to other international flights, making travel more accessible and streamlined for passengers and staff.

Customers opting in are also entitled to additional benefits, allowing them to use the Fast Track security lane and receive complimentary priority boarding.

Mr Breeze says, “The beauty of this technology is that it also frees our people up to look after more complex customer enquiries and deliver the best possible customer service.”

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