Improving the passenger experience is a key objective for most airport CEOs.  One of the best ways to do that is by using tools that create a seamless travel experience. Biometrics is one such tool and as a result, is a hot topic among aviation decision makers today. By employing technology like facial recognition in the airport security process, the benefits of a more streamlined passenger experience through the airport are undeniable. To airport CEOs, this could mean more time for passengers to spend in restaurants and shops behind security and an increased chance of choosing that airport for future travel.

To learn a bit more about how biometrics implementations are shaking up how airports around the world think about the passenger experience, we spoke with Daver Malik, Director of Airport Strategic Programs at Rockwell Collins. During our conversation, Daver shed some light on five important topics that airport decision makers need to consider when integrating biometrics:

  1. Airport decision makers are challenged with a lot of unknowns at the moment, so they need to partner closely with industry leaders to bring the right technology to the table. To do this, airport leaders must maintain a more flexible outlook when it comes to integrating technology like biometrics in the airport and not let possibly outdated practices inhibit innovation. “The airports and the technology providers really need to work together to make sure that the end solution being delivered meets the expectations of the airlines and passengers,” explained Malik. Entering the integration process with an open mind will help the partnership thrive.
  2. Another key consideration is for airports to partner with the local immigration and border control agencies to ensure that airport’s biometrics strategy fits within the overall regulatory framework. “If airports are considering a single token, end-to-end journey for their passengers facilitated by a biometrics token, they should engage these agencies and airlines early in the process to ensure interoperability amongst all stakeholders,” noted Malik.
  3. Airport CEOs also face the challenge of keeping pace with consumer tech adoption. “The adoption and acceptance of biometrics among consumers in a variety of applications – think cell phones – is driving airports to adopt this technology,” Malik stated. “CEOs have a choice. Airports can proactively put together an integrated passenger experience and operations strategy which incorporates biometrics from the start or be unprepared for this change and have it disrupt their operations,” says Malik.  Having the right technology partners and a plan in place is crucial.
  4. Many international carriers are already using biometrics at other international hubs. This prompts airport CEOs to seriously consider biometrics in their pursuit of more long haul carriers and expansion of their air service. “What airport decision makers absolutely want in their toolbox is a platform that does not limit technological options for the airlines they are trying to attract,” noted Daver. “An airport needs to provide the basic resources for its carriers, and biometrics infrastructure will soon become part of those regular expectations, especially among international airlines.”
  5. With an emerging technology like biometrics, future proofing is critical.  Malik stated, “Biometrics is not just about cameras and automated gates. It has much to do with understanding airport operations, airline processes, and especially their backend systems.” As the biometrics landscape matures, airports and other stakeholders will consider new and innovative use cases. Whether an airport is thinking about using biometrics for just border control or as part of an integrated end to end passenger journey, understanding these nuances can offer the most flexibility from an underlying platform perspective and can help an airport shape a forward-looking biometrics strategy.

In the very near future, biometrics will be an integral component in providing the end-to-end self-service experience that passengers are coming to expect. Its direct impact on the passenger experience makes it a rising priority for airport CEOs around the world. Keeping these considerations top of mind when creating or optimizing an airport biometrics strategy will provide a more holistic view of how the technology’s effects will ripple throughout the entire airport ecosystem.

Chelsea Barone

About Chelsea Barone

Chelsea is an editor for Connected Aviation Today, managing the day-to-day editorial activities. Chelsea writes for other federal government and technology industry publications. Her background lies in B2B and enterprise technology, specifically cloud computing, SaaS, travel IT, and mobile devices.