Biometric self boarding trial at Heathrow

Heathrow passengers are the first in the world to use an innovative technology as part of the airport’s drive to further improve the passenger experience.

Heathrow passengers are the trial an innovative technology as part of the airport’s drive to further improve the passenger experience.

Terminal 1 passengers are being invited to take part in a two month ‘self-boarding’ trial in partnership with South African Airways, which uses biometric data to help them 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 passenger 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 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.

Heathrow’s Terminal 1 Director Ian Hanson:

“We are working in partnership with our airlines to trial this technology which should help make our passengers’ journeys smoother and simpler. Since its introduction we have had positive feedback from both airlines and passengers.’

So far over 300 South African Airways passengers have chosen to use the technology as part of their departure journey.

New technology is already being used by passengers throughout the departure process, from checking in via mobile phones, ‘self-service bag drops’ to automated ticket presentation prior to passenger security. Introduced in November 2012, the self service bag drop enables passengers to generate and attach their own bag tags before placing their luggage onto the automated bag drop facility.

Feedback from this trial has been positive, showing passengers are quick to adopt new technology to help streamline their journey through the airport.