Passengers in London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 1 are being invited to take part in a two-month ‘self-boarding’ trial in partnership with South African Airways in an attempt to improve the passenger experience through the use of technology. The self-boarding gates use biometric data to help passengers board their flight faster and more efficiently. When passengers reach the ‘self-boarding’ gate, they pass through an automatic electronic barrier which takes an infrared scan of their face. This information is checked against the biometric data that was taken at the check-in stage. When the two sets of data scans are successfully matched, the barrier opens and the passengers can pass through and board their flight.
The technology means that a passenger’s identity needs to be checked by airline staff only once in the whole departure process, reducing the time it takes for passengers to get to their seats and ready for take off. It also allows airline staff to spend more time with those passengers who require greater assistance. The personal data is stored securely and will be destroyed at the end of the trial. So far over 300 South African Airways passengers have chosen to use the technology as part of their departure journey.