British Airways has become the first airline in the UK to announce it will begin trials of Biometric Technology to usher it into the era of ‘Smarter Travel’.

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British Airways Biometric Tech

In what is initially a very limited run, British Airways has announced a trial of new biometric technology created by travel tech company Amadeus for selected customers travelling internationally from London Heathrow.

Any traveller selected will receive an invitation to volunteer several days before departure. The technology is designed to get someone through the airport, and onto their flight, without the need to continually display a passport.

British Airways will have trained Customer Service reps ready to support volunteers taking part in the trials on arrival at Terminal 5 (the only LHR terminal in the trial) during this period; however, the whole process will start from the comfort of your home or hotel room.

A link will be sent via email, which will need to be opened on a smartphone (or tablet), where several steps will be taken. A scan of the boarding pass and passport will be required, along with a photo taken with the camera to confirm the identity. The system will also use this photo to identify the traveller in the airport.

How the boarding pass will be scanned raises a question and if this process will tie into the British Airways App (Android | Apple).

Promising a “smoother and more efficient departure”, this digital data will be used for dedicated cameras within T5 to recognise the traveller and enable them to move from curbside to airside with only the need of presenting a boarding pass when going through security. Those with luggage to check can do so through the usual ways, including the new self-check bag machines in Zone B.

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At boarding, what appears to be newer biometric face recognition scanners, will take one further scan of your face, and BA states the technology will process each traveller in just 2.5 seconds before allowing them to board.

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. 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.

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Smarter Airports

While its app and website often receive bad press for their reliability, it’s great to see British Airways invest and trial new technologies that can and will make a difference to its customers, as long as it works.

In 2020, I was invited to try out the Delta Airlines Smarter airport experience during #CES2020 using a technology called Parallel Reality™ which was due to be trialled later in the year, then Covid hit.

This technology, within a controlled environment of a Las Vegas conference hall admittedly, was terrific, worked seamlessly and proved that air travel and airports can be improved by technology.

Parallel Reality™ takes a scan of your boarding pass as you enter the airport before a network of cameras tracks you through the airport. As the cameras know your location, the technology will tailor any smart display you stop in front of with information just for you!

Be it your flight details and directions to the gate or even tailored marketing information about shops in the terminal based on your SkyMiles account settings and interests. The magic here is that only YOU will be able to see the information!

I can’t wait to try out British Airways’ new biometric technology and hope it’s the first step towards a more innovative London Heathrow experience. The trial will run for the next six months.

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VIATom Payne
SOURCEBritish Airways Media Centre
Tom, Editor. An online publication providing news & reviews on apps, gadgets and luggage for the connected traveller.

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