Gatwick Airport has confirmed that following the runway extension in 2020 it will install permanent facial recognition technology at a number of its gates. The technology will enable passengers to travel without being checked by airport staff and thus reduce queues at security and speed up the process.
Those passengers that chose to use this opt in service will have their faces scanned by the technology, which is able to verify they are the same people named on their boarding passes and passports as they walked through the airport. The tech will be rolled out to eight more departure gates by 2020.
Gatwick Airport has already conducted several trials of the tech in partnership with EasyJet. 90% of the 20,000 passengers who participated in the trial said it was both easy and faster to board the plane, and, according to Gatwick Airport, it helped reduce queuing time for travellers.
A spokesperson for the airport said: “One of the major benefits for passengers will be the open gate-room concept that Gatwick will be able to enable with this technology.
“This will allow passengers to spend more time enjoying the shops or having a last minute coffee before boarding their flight.”
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Iris recognition technology, an automated biometric scanning technique that is able to match passengers’ eyes to their boarding details and picture, is already in use at Gatwick Airport to determine that passengers have entered the right airport lounges for their flights. The airport says the technology can work even if the a passenger is wearing glasses or contact lenses.
It is expected Heathrow Airport will soon follow suit, as it understood airport executives are in advanced talks to deploy the technology permanently following a £50 million trial. Heathrow Airport said facial recognition technology would be used at “check-in, bag drops, security lanes and boarding gates,” which could reduce the average travel time through the airport by a third.
Although the technology mitigates the need to remember your passport to pass through airport, travellers are being urged to still bring their passport as they will require it at their destination.
Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and Singapore Airport have both already trialled facial recognition technology. Dubai Airport’s virtual aquarium tunnel, which has 80 in-built cameras that scan passengers’ faces, has replaced its security screening. By the end of 2021, 20 of the US’s top airport, including New York’s JFK, Los Angeles, Boston, Las Vegas and San Francisco, will allow passengers to use their faces as a passport.
However, although the technology has the potential to speed up queues it can also cause delays. Trials have found that hungover passengers and those with beards tend to cause the most delays at ePassport gates as the tech is not able to recognise them.