Biometrics will play a key role in meeting IATA’s vision of an end-to-end passenger experience that is secure, seamless, and efficient.

Travelers are keen to see biometric identification incorporated into the travel experience if it will result in a smoother and simpler travel experience. In IATA’s 2017 Global Passenger Survey, 64% of respondents saw it as a preferred means of identification. Airlines and governments also see biometrics as an efficient form of identifying travellers. This is reflected in IATA’s One ID initiative.

One ID seeks to introduce a streamlined, friction-free, and passenger-centric process that allows an individual to assert their identity, online or in person, to the required level at every process step from booking throughout departure, transfer and arrivals, while maintaining the privacy of personal data. The use of a trusted, digital identity and biometric recognition (facial, fingerprint, iris, etc.) will allow for a more personalized customer experience to be delivered, cost-efficiency to be improved, and security benefits to be gained. It can break the traditional paradigm where security and passenger facilitation come at the expense of one another, allowing both to be enhanced simultaneously.

Over the last year, biometric trials have been undertaken at Brisbane Airport with Air New Zealand, KLM and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, and JetBlue with Boston’s Logan International Airport.

64% of respondents chose biometric identification as their preferred traveling 'token' – IATA 2017 Global Passenger Survey


Most recently in January, British Airways (BA) worked with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the US government to begin a trial of self-service biometric boarding gates at Los Angeles International Airport for two nightly flights to London. Passengers will no longer need to present their passport or boarding pass at the gate, only at check-in and security. Instead, travelers look into a camera before they board, wait for their biometric data to be verified, and then walk on to the aircraft.

Also in January, Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport became the first airport outside the US to pilot the CBP’s biometric entry program. The facial recognition system will be used to verify the identities of travelers re-entering the US from Aruba on a daily Delta Air Lines flight to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“This pilot will be instrumental in taking our airport to the next levels of security and passenger service,” says Aruba Airport Authority CEO James Fazio. “Our past experiences with biometrics have been very successful… and we fully expect they [CBP] will be successful on a full implementation of this technology.”