Towards Airport 4.0: IATA One ID

Big crowds at airports are a distant memory with the Covid-19 pandemic hitting hard on the volumes of flying passengers. However, with the successful roll-out of vaccines, passenger numbers are progressively increasing. Nonetheless, the pandemic has changed the way people want to fly, especially at the airport, where the perceived risk of getting infected is higher than on the aircraft. Let’s have a look at what solution IATA has in store for the airport of the future.


IATA One ID is the industry’s solution for a seamless and contactless passenger journey at the airport. The whole project is based on the two concepts of identity management and biometric recognition.

One ID will be beneficial for a range of stakeholders, including:

  • Passengers: this innovative solution will provide passengers with a seamless airport experience through a one-time identification. Indeed, One ID will allow passengers to overcome the burden of travelling with different documents, including IDs and passports. One ID will provide passengers with a single identification recognized by all service providers. The true main advantage of One ID will be less queueing at different touchpoints, such as security.
  • Airlines – Airports: the main advantage for airlines and airports translates into increased efficiency of operations. Staff will have to carry out fewer manual ID checks, which translates into increased productivity and cost savings. Also, staff that used to carry out manual checks will be able to focus more on those passengers requiring assistance, providing enhanced customer service. Moreover, biometric recognition will make the passengers’ location in the airport accessible at all times. This information, coupled with additional technology, enables smarter and more efficient management of the station, for example through the so-called smart queueing, whereby staff is deployed there where more passengers are waiting in line, say, at security checks. Smart queueing also translates into better management of the airport spaces, which can be redesigned adopting a customer-centric approach. As for the airlines, they will take advantage of more relaxed and happier passengers, which often translates into commercial opportunities (happier passengers have been proven to be more likely to spend on ancillary services or products onboard).
  • Governments: governments will take advantage of an enhanced security process at airports, whereby common criminal activities, such as human trafficking or passengers trying to enter a country under a fake identity, will diminish dramatically
Milan Malpensa Airport. @ Marco Macca / Travel Radar
Milan Malpensa Airport. @ Marco Macca / Travel Radar

According to IATA, the one identity token will be used during the check-in process, with a 10%  estimated reduction in the time needed for this process. Moreover, One ID will be available for bag drop, security access, and boarding, for which an estimated 40% reduction in the required time is expected. One ID will also be leveraged at both outbound and inbound border controls, and for the security screening process, with a 4% time reduction. The main advantage is an 80% estimated reduction at passport controls.

The IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM), held in Seoul in 2019, unanimously approved the need to accelerate the global implementation of One ID. Airlines taking part at the meeting asked for the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) member states to approve and endorse the specifications required in order for the One ID to be used instead of passports and other travel documents. Moreover, the whole industry was prompted to work with governments to define the global standards required for safe and secure implementation of the single identity token for travelling.

With trials being implemented at different airports around the world, the next stage of the implementation will be cross-boarders trials, whereby a passenger is recognized at both airports of arrival and departure based on their biometric data, i.e. their digital identity, leveraging biometric recognition technology and collaborative identity management platforms accessible by different stakeholders, including airports, airlines, and governments.

What do you think of IATA One ID? Let us know in the comments below!

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Giacomo Amati
Giacomo Amati
Aviation Reporter - Giacomo has been passionate about commercial aviation since his very childhood. Currently, he is pursuing a Master in Air Transport Management at the University of Surrey, UK. His expertise within the industry entails an internship with Emirates Airlines in Milan Malpensa airport and a bachelor's thesis on the financial status of the former Italian national carrier, Alitalia. Besides aviation, Giacomo loves foreign languages, German being his favourite one, and travelling.


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