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A person instead of a passport: how air travel will change in the near future

Passports full of multi-colored stamps and visas will soon be replaced by the iris. Writes about it Travel and Leisure.

Photo: Shutterstock

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 45% of passengers are willing to give up their paper passports and use biometric identification instead.

Airlines and airports provide the basis for this. The IATA One ID project is designed to allow passengers to get to the gate without having to get a passport or boarding pass.

One ID is based on the digital identification of passengers through the creation of a “biometric token”. This token can be generated by scanning the face or other part of the passenger's body.

There are all kinds of biometric identification systems that will find their way into our daily life in the very near future. They range from fingerprints to palm scans, iris, facial recognition, to systems that can identify a person based on their heartbeat, voice, or even smell.

On the subject: Airport of the future: what will be the security control system in 10 years

But airlines and airports prefer face scans; more and more machines for this technology are installed every month at airports around the world.

The technology company SITA claims that by 2021, 71% of US airlines and 77% of US airports plan to implement biometric identifier programs, but the rejection of passports will be gradual.

According to their recent report, 59% of airports plan to introduce self-service gates that will operate using a combination of biometric ID and travel documents. At the same time, 52% of airports plan to install gates that will use only a biometric identifier; and 47% of airports plan to switch to biometric tokens at all checkpoints by 2021. As can be seen from the numbers, some airports will combine several technologies, and not test only one of the programs.

Delta Air Lines and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport are ahead of the trend. In 2018, they launched a program with the United States Customs and Border Guard (CBP), which made Maynard J. Jackson's international terminal (Terminal F) at Atlanta Airport the first fully biometric airport terminal in the United States. Since then, Delta has expanded its biometric identification program to the airports of Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, New York, Detroit and Los Angeles.

Biometric identifiers work from check-in to boarding using face scanners at self-service check-in points, baggage claim desks, TSA checkpoints, and all boarding gates at Terminal F. CBP also has a biometric identification station for those arriving in the United States .

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Delta Biometrics is a voluntary program. Customers who want to board the plane in the “old fashioned way” can still do this. But for those who want, the new biometric identification service already works with passengers who fly through Terminal F with Delta Air Lines or partners: Aeromexico, Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic.

Technology company VisionBox has taken it one step further. The company has developed a biometric track that can scan and verify the identity of a passenger in motion without having to stop at the camera.

The biggest challenge for airlines and airports is getting One ID to work globally. Governments must agree on common standards for the exchange of biometric data. SITA believes that this will start with bilateral agreements between partners, and then gradually expand to more countries.

CBP wants to install more biometric identification stations for passengers entering the United States.

But don't throw your passport away yet. Even if you want to use a biometric identifier, you will need a passport for international flights. These are still official government documents needed to verify your identity. In addition, you will need them if the machines fail.

Read also on ForumDaily:

Airport of the future: what will be the security control system in 10 years

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Traveling during a pandemic: what to take with you to protect against coronavirus

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