Gatwick Airport drives UK’s first end-to-end biometrics trial

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Gatwick Airport is running the UK’s first trial of end-to-end biometrics. Personal data collected at the airport’s self-service bag drops will be recognized by new automated self-boarding gates, simplifying and speeding up the process for passengers and reducing the risk of human error.

The new self-boarding technology will identify each passenger and verify that their passport, face and boarding card all match, with the process taking less than 20 seconds.

The trial is being run in partnership with EasyJet, Gatwick’s biggest airline. Passengers traveling without luggage who wish to take part in the trial can have their data collected at the entrance to the boarding gate room.

Chris Woodroofe, chief operating officer at Gatwick Airport, said, “Gatwick prides itself on providing innovative solutions to enhance the passenger experience at every touchpoint. With the rate of growth we have experienced, it is essential we are able to find more efficient ways of processing passengers through the airport safely and securely.

“Self-boarding technology is the obvious next piece in the jigsaw following extensive investment in our automated check-in and security processing areas. I’m excited to see this trial come to life with EasyJet’s passengers. Together, we are at the forefront of providing technological solutions that enhance the passenger journey.”

Gatwick will be looking at how long each interaction takes, what this means for queue times, how it simplifies the passenger journey, how passengers interact with the technology, and how intuitive the process is.

Once all the data is gathered, the technology will be adapted and adjusted before taking the idea forward for airport-wide implementation.

Karen Cox, director of ground operations at EasyJet, said, “We are trialling new facial recognition technology at Gatwick for the first time, which, if rolled out, could revolutionize the boarding experience for our customers. The technology streamlines the processes our customers go through, saving them time and enhancing their travel experiences.

“While still in its very early stages, this project is clearly consistent with our digital strategy of continuing to innovate to make passengers’ journeys easier at every stage of their interaction with us – from searching and browsing for a flight, through to stepping off the aircraft in their destination.”

The trial will be the first and most extensive of its kind in the UK and will run for at least three months, so that around 10,000 passengers take part on the 43 Gatwick routes.

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Kirstie joined the team in early 2017 and brings writing, communications and client experience with her. Now an assistant editor, she produces content for our magazines and websites. Away from the office, you will find her blogging on her lifestyle website or searching the internet for photos of sausage dogs.

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