New Airport Biometrics Deployments around the World

Ports make the entry and exit point of any country, through which controlled movement of humans, animals and goods takes place. Before the existence of air and cross-border train travel, sea ports used to be the checkpoints for international travelers. Now owing to easy accessibility and speed, cross-border human movement has largely shifted to air travel, making airports important as well as sensitive border checkpoints.

At the airports, immigration checks are performed at the time of international arrivals and departures, to see if you are allowed to enter or depart the country. In recent years, immigration checks have become more detailed due to increasing criminals and terrorist threats. On the other hand, numbers of air travelers grow each year, resulting in long queues for check-in, immigration, bag drop and boarding.

Biometric screening at airports is now increasingly being deployed in order to maintain high level of security while processing the travelers quickly. This article sheds light on airport biometric deployments that have taken place in recent years.

Biometric screening at airports

Enhance airport and air travel security

Biometric screening at airports for security clearance can quickly check through the database of people on surveillance, identified criminals and terrorists, no fly lists, etc. Airport biometric security ensures that a traveler cannot circumvent the security procedures with forged or manipulated documents.

Expedite passenger processing

In non-automated boarding, a traveler has to present different forms of IDs such as boarding pass, booking reference number, passport, etc. to prove his/her identity as well as eligibility to board a flight. Passengers also need to present these documents to different agents at different checkpoints. Verifying authenticity of the documents, entering details in computers and processing the travelers manually can be a cumbersome and most importantly time consuming process.

Airport boarding biometric screening can dramatically expedite the air travel procedures and quickly clear the passengers for boarding. Be it travel registration record searching, immigration checks, bag drop or final boarding checks, biometric screening at airports offers end-to-end passenger processing solution.

List of new airport biometrics deployments

Once entirely dependent on traditional ways of identification and manual processes, biometric screening at airports is increasingly replacing these dated approaches of processing passengers. Biometric recognition has already gained the status of a mainstream identification method in government and law enforcement, no wonder it is now landing at the airports.

Airport biometric deployment can be a fairly complex process, which may involve multiple organizations, government agencies and the airport authority depending on the level of automation required.

The following subsections cover new airport biometrics deployments taking place around the world:


Australian airports offer world class facilities and are increasingly transforming their passenger processing systems with biometrics.

Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport, Sydney, Australia

Sydney Airport is the busiest airport in Australia. It handles 40-50 million passengers annually and is one of the longest continuously operated commercial airports in the world. Sydney Airport is a primary hub for Qantas Airways, which is the largest airline by fleet size, international flights and international destinations.

In July 2019,, an Australian news website reported that Sydney Airport is continuing its facial recognition trials using Vision Box facial recognition systems that were installed during the initial trial period. The initial three month trial was carried out in mid-2018 and some of the Qantas passengers had signed up for the same, which was later officially closed by the airline. But the new report suggested the otherwise.

Even if the alleged facial recognition trail at the Sydney Airport is running at all, there is no official word on that.

Facial recognition for Australian airports was first introduced at the Canberra Airport in collaboration with Vision Box. The company was awarded the contract to replace all the smart-gates at airport arrival halls around the country.

Perth Airport, Perth, Australia

The new system will enable air travelers to complete airport formalities just with a facial scan including check-in, bag drop and boarding, eliminating the need of showing IDs or boarding pass on every checkpoint.

To equip Australian airports with face recognition capabilities, the federal government had already signed a $22.5 million deal with a Portuguese identification technology company Vision-Box in July 2018. The electronic identity management solution provider has begun replacing all smart gates at airport arrivals around the country.

In February 2019, Perth Airport became the second international airport in Australia to introduce new facial recognition smart gates. Introduction of facial recognition at Perth airport was in line with the Australian government’s goal to automate 90% of air traveler processing by 2020.

New Zealand

New Zealand has taken fast forward approach towards biometric screening at airports like other members of FCC. It is one of the early adopters of airport biometric security and airport boarding biometric screening. Since 2009, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports have been using Smart-Gates for processing passengers. The new generation eGates are designed and developed on Safran Identity & Security’s latest platform to further improve efficiency.

Queenstown Airport, New Zealand

First eGate at Queenstown Airport was installed in May 2016 in order to improve efficiency in passenger identification, enhance security by isolating threats and reduce time taken in passenger formalities at the airport. The airport authorities chose Elenium Automation to provide end-to-end solution which included self-service kiosks, boarding gates, counters and self-service bag drop.

Christchurch Airport, New Zealand

Safran Identity & Security completed deploying eGates at Christchurch Airport in December 2016. The installation took place under New Zealand Customs Service’s ambitious National Upgrade and Innovation Program, which aims to install a total of 51 eGates at four airports (Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown, and Christchurch airports) across the country.

“Since its introduction in 2009, Smart-gate has been an increasingly popular with passengers and has helped manage growth in passenger volumes. The e-gates allow passengers pass through quickly and easily, and enable customs officers to focus on managing high risk travelers at the border.”

Carolyn TremainComptroller and Chief Executive of NZ Customs

Wellington Airport, New Zealand

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner launched new eGates at Wellington Airport in August 2016. She also scanned her passport and went through facial scan to test their functionality. The whole process did not take more than 20 second and left the National MP impressed with the new system. “Fantastic” was the word uttered by the Minister.

“We have nearly 12 million people going across our borders every year and we need to find really good ways to process them.”

Nicky WagnerCustoms Minister

New eGates were installed as a part of the country’s broader National Upgrade and Innovation Program, which lays road-map to upgrade many aspects in order to improve efficiency and ensure national security.

Auckland Airport, New Zealand

Auckland Airport rolled out new airport boarding biometric screening system in December 2019, which claims to improve processing capacity in international departures five-fold. These new security eGates can scan boarding pass and face of the passenger to match details. The new eGates at Auckland Airport will be operating with their full efficiency by 2020.

These gates uses Vision-Box’s Orchestra shared biometrics services platform, which can do much more than just scanning boarding passes and faces. In further stages, eGates will be able to receive real-time flight information, real-time reporting for airlines, multi-boarding pass processing and more.

Saudi Arabia

Being the center of the world of Muslim faith, Saudi Arabia witnesses a huge volume of travelers for pilgrimage and similar reasons. Huge influx of travelers can pose significant risk and challenges in keeping track of people crossing the country’s border. Saudi Arabia also shares boarders with some conflicted regions, which further necessitates the high security border control measures. The country has already started implementing biometric identification of travelers crossing its boarders.

In August 2018, some reports indicated that Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has collaborated with SITA to modernize the country’s 26 airports. The upgrade program includes more self-service based procedures with kiosks, automated bag drops, biometric single-token travel and payment systems.

Kuwait International Airport, Farwaniya

In July 2019, Kuwait International Airport took up traveler identification with facial recognition on a 3-month trial as reported by Kuwait’s Civil Aviation Authority. The new system aims to curb inefficiencies and risk associated with air travel passenger identification and processing.

Yousef Al-Fouzan, director general of Kuwait’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation said that new airport boarding biometric screening system would be installed at terminal 4 during the trial period. Terminal 4 is the newest built terminal of Kuwait International Airport.

According to the head of DGCA’s engineering department Saleh Al-Fadagi, Kuwait’s civil aviation body is also looking into adding more features to the new terminal.


Hamad International Airport, Doha

Hamad International Airport is the only international airport of the state of Qatar. It unveiled its expansion plans during the annual real estate investors’ exhibition Cityscape Qatar 2019. Expansion will be carried out in two phases and will introduce many new amenities aimed at better passenger experience and convenience.

Along with ambitious expansion plans, the airport has been also testing biometrics based projects to improve security, shorten traveler processing time and improve the overall travel experience. These and many other projects are the parts of HAI’s Smart Airport program. Post implementations and upgrades, passengers will be able to perform self-check-ins with facial scan, self-bag-drops and security entrance checks with state-of-the-art facial recognition technology.


Bahrain International Airport , Muharraq

Bahrain International Airport partnered with Vision-Box, the leading provider of biometric-based travel and digital identity solutions, to have biometric traveler processing systems installed at Airport’s new Passenger Terminal Building. This development is a part of larger Airport Modernization Program (AMP), which is one of the biggest projects taken up by the country. AMP is set to improve infrastructure, facilities and services at the Bahrain International Airport, bringing it to at par with international trends and standards.

Vision-Box’s Automated Border Control platform will enable security and airline officials to efficiently control check-in, immigration, bag drop and boarding, without having to physically intervene in any of these processes. According to vision-box, it will allow passengers to pass through immigration checkpoints faster as the eGates will verify passengers’ identities, using biometrics including facial, iris, and fingerprint recognition.

United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi International Airport, Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi International Airport has been using Smart Travel biometric passenger processing system to provide a faster, securer and convenient air travel experience. The system was deployed in partnership with the Ministry of Interior and Abu Dhabi Police.

The travelers can use self-service kiosks to get their boarding pass and drop luggage on their own at automated self-bag-drop system. Smart travel system is also equipped with automated passport control gates with biometric verification and facial recognition technology, along with smart boarding gates.

At the time of deployment, the Ministry of Interior encouraged people to register for the new system by running a campaign across key outlets and malls in Abu Dhabi. The smart travel system is claimed to have shorten the traveler processing time at the Abu Dhabi International Airport by 70 percent.

Dubai International Airport, Dubai

In October 2019, General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) Dubai unveiled its plan to take up biometrics for passenger identification at Dubai International Airport. This system will replace current passenger identification procedures with biometric recognition powered automated passenger processing system. Trials are underway for Emirates Airline passengers. From check-in to boarding, Emirates passengers can skip physical verification with boarding passes, IDs, passports, etc., which results in a quick and seamless air travel experience.

The new system will make use of face and iris recognition technologies to identify passengers. The airport had conducted test runs, which showcased how passengers could complete their check-in, immigration and boarding formalities peerlessly and without any staff assistance.

“We continue to improve our services with the latest technology and innovation and aim to provide a customer journey that is seamless and fast.”

Adel Al RedhaEmirates’ Chief Operating Officer


With government undertaken campaigns such as biometric national identity, biometric based services, etc., biometric identification is already a mainstream method of identification in India. Some of the Indian airports have been already testing biometric based passenger identification and automation.

Kempegowda International Airport, Bangalore, India

Located in Bangalore, the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka, Kempegowda International Airport is a completely solar powered airport spread over 4,000 acres. Being one of the busiest airports in India, Kempegowda International Airport experiences high volume of domestic as well as international travelers on a daily basis.

The airport introduced “Early Go Live” of its biometric based traveler processing in July 2019. Airport boarding biometric screening is expected to expedite otherwise lengthy procedures from registration to boarding.

Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, India

Indira Gandhi International Airport began testing biometric facial recognition for air travelers of a domestic airline in September 2019. The move aimed to offer seamless travel experience. The trial run is being conducted by Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) at terminal 3 (T3) of the airport for one of India’s private sector airlines – Vistara.

The facial recognition system is being deployed in collaboration with Vision Box, a renowned identity management company, which commenced its operations in the country from July 2018. Being the country’s busiest international airport, DEL expects biometric facial recognition to expedite air travel formalities such as check-in, bag drops and boarding clearance.

Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad, India

Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad, India began a trial run of biometric facial recognition for air travelers under DigiYatra scheme. This scheme aims to automatically process air travelers based on facial recognition at checkpoints such as entry, security clearance and aircraft boarding. It will also enable travelers to drop luggage and check-in on their own, which will also be done by facial recognition.

At the time of airport entry, traveler will be able to scan their boarding pass at an e-gate and the system will associate facial details with PNR for rest of the airport formalities. It will save passengers from showing their ID or boarding pass at multiple checkpoints.

Airport Authority of India intends to roll out the facial recognition based air travel initially at Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune and Vijayawada in later stages.


Narita International Airport, Tokyo

Japan’s Narita International Airport began rolling out airport boarding biometric screening with facial recognition in mid-2018. The new system is installed at the immigration gates and has significantly shortened passenger processing time. The eGates are equipped with facial recognition, which scans facial details of a passenger and compare it with the passport photo. eGates automatically opens and let the passenger through if both the images match.

New technology allows lesser human intervention as a single official can control six gates at a time. Japanese airport authority has plans to biometric screening at airports throughout the country in order to meet growing security and operational challenges.

In the meanwhile, Japan Customs has ordered NEC Corporation to supply facial recognition powered customs-check system for six airports across the country. These airports are: Haneda Airport, Kansai International Airport, Narita International Airport, Fukuoka Airport, Chitose Airport and Chubu International Airport. The system includes biometric gates, electronic declaration terminal and customs declaration apps powered by NEC’s NeoFace AI engine. It is worth mentioning that NeoFace AI engine has topped NIST Face in Video Evaluation (FIVE) testing previously.


Oslo Airport, Oslo, Norway

Passengers of Oslo Airport, Norway received the first taste of facial recognition in July 2018. It was the first ever deployment of facial recognition tech that took place at any European airport. The new system was deployed in partnership with IDEMIA, a renowned identity solution provider. This new facial biometrics powered system called MorphoFace replaced the older infrastructure and automated the border control for departures.

MorphoFace is the technology developed by IDEMIA for automated border control gates. It can capture facial details on the move without the need of any moving part or additional lighting. The facial recognition project was implemented in collaboration with Avinor, Norway Police and local partner Seca Solutions AS.

“Our solution allows Oslo Airport to reinvent its passenger experience, we thank Oslo Airport for choosing IDEMIA for this improvement and look forward to further developing and inspiring future innovations.”

Philippe BarreauExecutive VP of Citizen Identity and Public Security activities at IDEMIA

United Kingdom

Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom

The airport officials hope that future generations of this technology will allow passengers to walk through the airport checkpoints without breaking their stride.

In October 2018, Heathrow Airport unveiled biometric facial recognition for air travelers on a trial basis. It has gone through testing and upgrades during and post-trial and has been rolled out in full swing now. The new system was expected to cut short the time taken from check-in to boarding formalities by third. Passengers can now check-in, drop bags, and pass boarding gates just with a facial scan, which does not take more than a few seconds.

Bristol and Dublin airports, Ireland

Collins Aerospace, which is the world’s largest supplier of aerospace and defense products, announced in March 2019 that its Self-pass airport biometric solution is being tested at Bristol and Dublin Airports. This system enables air travelers to use one-time biometric enrollment in multiple airports in different countries.

Process of check-in to boarding at Bristol Airport has become considerably smooth due to multiple biometric checkpoints. With Passels, passengers will be able to board flights in multiple countries without the need of repetitive biometric enrollments.

Processing air travelers with their biometrics will enable them to check-in, self-bag drop, clear security and get through boarding gates without having to present paper based documents.

“We are really pleased to be an early adopter of this new technology designed to further enhance the experience for both our passengers and our airline customers at Dublin Airport, we are delighted with the progress of the trial so far and look forward to extending the offering to a wider audience, including those travelling to the U.S. in the coming months.”

Frances O’BrienVice President of PMO for DAA


Athens International Airport, Greece

Being the largest airport of Greece, Athens International Airport sees a huge movement of passengers round the year. Now passengers flying with Aegean Airlines from Athens International Airport can complete the airport formalities speedily with a facial scan. Athens International Airport has taken up biometric screening for faster and securer passenger processing.

The new system called Smart Path is designed and deployed by SITA, a globally renowned airport technology firm. With Smart Path, passengers can verify their identity at all the checkpoints where it is generally done by presenting IDs or boarding pass. It eliminates the need of showing documents and automates the whole process.


Warsaw Modlin Airport, Poland

Located 40 km (25 miles) north of Warsaw’s city center in Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki, Warsaw Modlin Airport is one of the international airports in Poland. The airport has introduced biometric security gates equipped with facial recognition technology to deter unauthorized travelers with forged documents. The system can also detect known security threats as well as people on surveillance.

Talking about the system, President of the Port of Aviation Warsaw/Modlin Leszek Chorzewski commented that the new system is expected to shorten time required by immigration screening.


Menorca Airport, Spain

Menorca Airport, Spain announced its plans to transform conventional boarding process with facial recognition powered one in March 2019. Aena first launched a pilot test to install the first biometric identification system for self-boarding and facial recognition at a Spanish airport. The Aena SA is a Spanish corporation, majority of which is owned by the state and is responsible for the operation of domestic airports.

The project has been developed in collaboration with Air Europa and has been implemented by everis Aerospace, Defense and Security (everis ADS) and dormakaba Spain.

It allows passengers to access the boarding area and get on the plane using only their face. Pre-registration is carried out when the passenger arrives at the airport and can be done in two ways: at the check-in desk or through a kiosk designed specifically for this project.

Averis ADS and Dormakaba have developed both the ‘hardware’ and the ‘software’ necessary for the implementation of this access and auto-boarding system, including the conceptualization of the project, the design and adaptation of the necessary tools and technologies. The objective of this test will be to verify the effectiveness of these systems, the agility they provide in the process of identification and access of passengers to boarding areas, as well as their possible implementation in the airports of the Aena network.

Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, Madrid

In November 2019, Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport initiated a pilot of facial recognition powered travel formalities at the Terminal 4. The airport aims to enable passengers speed through the check-in, bag drop, security, immigration and boarding formalities using their facial biometric profile instead of boarding pass or passport.

Iberia passengers who are flying to Asturias or Brussels can opt for the new system and register for the same via an app on their mobile devices. They can also register at self-service kiosks available at the terminal 4. While registering via app, the passenger will be asked to take a photograph of their photo ID and a short video of the passenger (video-selfie). The system analyses both to make sure that they match. The biometric profile of the passenger is then transmitted to the Aena database.


China is increasingly relying on face recognition for authentication, surveillance and security and also bringing this technology to its airports. Efforts in that direction are already underway.

According to a report from Xinhua, a Chinese state media outlet, 557 security channels at 62 airports, including Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, are using facial recognition systems for faster security checks and enhanced convenience for travelers.

Following are some notable airport biometric security deployments in Chinese airports:

Huangshan Tunxi International Airport, China

Huangshan Tunxi International Airport is located in Tunxi, Huangshan City, China, which mostly serves tourists to Mount Huangshan, one of China’s top tourist destinations.

According to reports, the airport management has chosen to ditch paper based boarding in favor of facial recognition powered one. The airport announced its plans in April 2019. The goal behind this shift is to streamline security clearance and movement of passengers at the airport. The facial recognition boarding system was developed by a domestic technology firm named Anhui Airport Information Technology Co. The company claims that the system can authenticate a passenger within three seconds.

The airport authority stated that the system will keep improving in order to provide more convenience to the air travelers and enhance passenger experience in boarding the flights.

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, China

Shanghai airport launched an automated security clearance system with facial recognition in October 2018. It was the first airport biometric security implementation in the country. Operational at the Terminal One of the airport, the system is powered by eight airport boarding biometric screening machines. These systems can scan passengers’ ID cards and faces and verify if they match.

With the new airport biometrics deployments, the time taken by clearance procedure has been reduced to 12 seconds. The airport boarding biometric screening is only available to Chinese ID cardholders.

The new system aims to make biometric screening at airports completely unassisted including check-in, bag-drop, security clearance and boarding.

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, China

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport became one of the facial biometrics equipped airports after the deployment of smart security clearance systems in September 2019. The security clearance system can track past travel records of a passenger to isolate suspicious travelers. It uses big data technologies to analysis data and is also connected with airport’s security check department, airline companies and the police department.

A passenger with clean travel records is transferred to self-service checkpoints, where the passenger can go through facial scan and complete security clearance and other formalities.


Senai International Airport, Malaysia

Air Asia unveiled Malaysia’s first airport boarding biometric screening system at Senai International Airport. The new system is called FACES (abbreviation of Fast Airport Clearance Experience System) and is equipped with Facial recognition for automating airport biometric security clearance and boarding formalities.

To start using FACES passenger processing system, passengers must enroll at one of the dedicated enrollment kiosks located in the self-service check-in area. Passengers can have themselves enrolled by placing their chip-enabled passport or MyKad (Malaysian ID) while looking at the system’s camera for facial scan. The system screen guides the passenger throughout the process. Only passengers aged 18 or more and taller than 145 cm can be registered on the system. They should also possess either a biometric passport with at least six month’s validity or a Malaysian ID called MyKad.

Enrollment is a one-time process and once done, a passenger can scan his face instead of showing physical documents at all checkpoints during his/her airport procedures.

Kuala Lumpur international airport, Malaysia

SITA, an air transport automation company and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in August 2019 to explore areas of innovations and opportunities together. During the event, SITA showcased Smart Path™, its travel processing automation system, which has been helping airports around the world to automate passenger processing from check-in to boarding. Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad also tested new biometric passenger processing at the KLIA Main Terminal.

On the other hand, according to a report published by The Edge Markets, SITA, in collaboration with Malaysia Airports Holdings, is set to introduce a single-token biometric system at the Kuala Lumpur international airport. The new system will use biometric facial recognition to identify travelers whenever they need to verify their identity to get through a checkpoint.

“I think for the passengers, the benefit is that it will be more convenient for them and it will help speed up their journey through the airport. It is about the convenience for the passengers, above all. If you look at some of the manual processes that we have, especially during high peak times, it takes a bit of time to clear. So, with this technology they are able to register not only in the airport but also potentially through the smartphone application that we will enhance later on.”

Lee Yiang MingSenior General Manager (Information Technology), MAHB

The new passenger processing system is expected to be piloted with flights on Malaysian Airlines to Tokyo Narita International Airport and Osaka Kansai International Airport.


Singapore is one of early adopters of airport biometric security and airport boarding biometric screening with Changi Airports taking up facial recognition powered passenger processing as early as 2017.

Changi Airport, Singapore

Changi Airport is the first airport in the world to use face recognition on global process. In partnership with IDEMIA, Changi Airport received facial recognition powered integrated passenger processing system in November 2017. The implementation process, however, had started more than a year ago with the objective of transforming passenger experience. The system enables through and through passengers processing including self-check-in, self-bag-drop, security clearance, immigration and boarding. The system has also been installed on Terminal 3 departure.

Equipped with facial recognition technology, MorphoPass and the MorphoWay gates are installed in Terminal 4 of Changi Airport with an annual capacity of 16 million passengers.

Seletar Airport, Singapore

Following the footsteps of Changi Airport, Singapore’s new Seletar Airport has received biometric passenger processing system to enable its passengers to speed through the airport formalities. This implementation is also done by IDEMIA, the identity solution firm that provided Changi Airport’s facial recognition passenger processing system.

This system is operational since April 2019. According to IDEMIA, the system comprises automated immigration e-gates, flexi counters (manual counters that can be switched to automated lanes) and system oversight features.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong

In order to cope with present and future security and traveler processing challenges, the Hong Kong International Airport authority takes technology such as biometrics as a solution. Ability to match physical characteristics of a passenger with what is stored on the chip of their travel documents can dramatically expedite passenger clearance formalities on the ground, paving the way to shorter boarding time and saved resources.

Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) officially unveiled four automated e-security gates at the south departure hall of HKIA’s Terminal 1 in September 2018. It was the initial step toward the single token travel with biometrics. These gates are equipped with facial recognition technology to automatically identify travelers when they seek access to an “authorized traveler only” area.

The AAHK, in collaboration with other agencies and technology firms, is in the process of complete overhaul of boarding formalities and improve security at the same time. In subsequent stages, the airport authority intends to roll out 44 e-security gates at the Terminal 1 departures level. It will also introduce other self-service facilities powered by biometrics passenger identification including smart check-in kiosks and self-bag drop counters.

South Korea

The Korea Financial Telecommunications and Clearings Institute (KFTC), a state owned financial authority, announced in June 2019 that 14 South Korean airports will begin to use Fujitsu’s palm vein biometrics technology for traveler identification and boarding processing. The system is expected to go fully operational from January 2020. These South Korean airports have already been testing fingerprint and palm vein recognition since November 2018.

All 14 airports will utilize and share biometric data collected from the passengers and the system will allow passengers to authenticate identity for more services such as biometric payments, etc. in later stages.

Korean Air at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Korean Air has introduced facial biometrics enabled boarding for flights departing from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Now passengers boarding flight KE036 from Atlanta will no longer have to scan their boarding pass to board the flight. They just have to pass through the facial recognition terminal to have their face scanned and then they can proceed to boarding area.


El Dorado International Airport, Bogota

El Dorado International Airport witnesses a huge influx of passengers and before airport boarding biometric screening, processing passengers while upholding security was quite a challenge. Waiting in long queues was also a frustrating experience for travelers. Migración Colombia, the Colombian customs agency collaborated with Gemalto, a biometric technology solution firm to transform its passenger processing.

BOG passenger processing system was long due for an overhaul. Gemalto and Colombian technology partner INCOMELEC SAS worked together to achieve it along with Migración Colombia. The involved parties agreed on using biometric iris verification technology for the purpose and Gemalto developed a new solution called ABC (Automated Border Control).

The Gemalto ABC Iris solution for Migración Colombia comprises a highly sophisticated iris recognition terminal, which can identify passengers by scanning iris patter from 35 to 45 cm away. It is easy to use as there is no need to make physical contact with the terminal. Traveler identity is quickly registered and compared with no-fly list, known criminal database, etc. to make sure that the traveler does not pose any threat.

United States of America

In October 2018, Delta Airlines introduced America’s first “biometric terminal” at the Atlanta Airport, which uses facial recognition to identify passengers as they proceed through the terminal on their way to and from foreign shores. This project was implemented to enhance border security measures as well as to speed up the passenger processing in the airport.

US Customs and Border Protection has been in the process of deploying facial recognition at the US airport under its ambitious “Biometric Entry-Exit System” program. It requires visitors to go through facial recognition before getting through the US ports of entry. Presently, following airports are equipped with facial recognition powered Biometric Entry-Exit System.

Biometric screening at airports (on arrivals)

  • John F. Kennedy Airport, New York
  • Washington Dulles International Airport
  • Houston Airport
  • Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport
  • Boston Logan International Airport
  • McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles / Tom Bradley Airport
  • Miami International Airport
  • Orlando International Airport
  • San Diego International Airport
  • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport

Airport boarding biometric screening (for departures)

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • Boston Logan International Airport
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  • William P. Hobby Airport
  • McCarran International Airport
  • Los Angeles International Airport
  • Miami International Airport
  • Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport
  • Newark Liberty International Airport
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • Orlando International Airport
  • Salt Lake City International Airport
  • San Diego International Airport
  • San Francisco International Airport
  • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • Tampa International Airport
  • Washington Dulles International Airport
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Airlines involved in the biometric screening at airports in the U.S.

  • Delta
  • JetBlue
  • British Airways
  • Lufthansa
  • American Airlines

An executive order issued by President Trump mentions that by the year 2021, top 20 U.S. airports will be making use of facial recognition for 100 percent of all international passengers, including American citizens.


Biometric implementations on the airports are triggered by factors like cost cutting, plummeting airfare, which attracts more passengers and generates the need to process them faster. Security is another aspect. Completely depending on human ability to process a passengers while scrutinizing threats can be a challenging task, and hard to do with same efficiency. Automated biometric passenger recognition fills these gaps and provides ability to identify a subject quickly and more efficiently.

Airports are important as well as sensitive facilities. Important because they serve as the ports of entry / exit for a country. Sensitive because they are always a target of intruders, criminals, terrorists and other unwanted people that might want to enter or flee a country.

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