British Airways starts biometric boarding at Heathrow T5

But it adds more time and complexity for passengers

British Airways is introducing self-service biometric boarding gates at Heathrow T5. 

The first three boarding gates for UK domestic flights departing from Heathrow Terminal 5 are now open.

Three more of the self-boarding gates will open at each domestic departure stand each week until mid-June, with a view to roll-out the scheme on international flights in the future.

To use the egates, passengers scan their own boarding pass at the egate, stand on the area marked on the floor, look at the camera and then, if all is ok, enter the boarding bridge.

The facial biometric is first captured when the passenger scans their boarding pass to get airside. At the boarding gate that facial biometric is then compared with the one pictured at the boarding gate.

Looks like a long line of unhappy passengers – and no staff in sight

It is not clear how or if the egates check hand baggage size and number.

Troy Warfield, British Airways’ director of customer experience, says that customers want the ability to simplify and speed up their journeys through the airport. He doesn’t explain or give figures to show why the biometric boarding and self bagdrop achieve those aims.

Indeed the new procedures actually increase the total time passengers spend on departure procedures as they add in two new facial captures.

KLM biometric boarding trial at Amsterdam

KLM started a trial in February this year using facial recognition for boarding.

KLM and Schiphol trial biometric boarding
This picture of the biometric trial doesn’t look too good – that’s quite a boarding line

At the gate, passengers board only through facial recognition. No boarding pass or passport is needed. But, passengers have to register their details before using the biometric boarding gate. Registration involves scanning the passport, the boarding pass, and the passenger’s face.

N.B. Image credits: British Airways and KLM