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British Airways trialling biometric check-in for international flights

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British Airways has become the first UK airline to trial the use of biometric technology for international flights.

This will allow you to pass through Heathrow without showing your passport, with your face scanned on boarding and matched to an image stored on file.

The technology has been in use on domestic flights since 2017 with passenger scans taken at security and checked during boarding.

How does it work?

During the trial, selected passengers (Heathrow Terminal 5 only) will be emailed in advance with an invitation.

You will need to scan your face, passport and boarding pass on your smartphone before you arrive at the airport.

Smart Bio-Pod cameras will verify your identity within three seconds instead of having to show your passport.

You will, of course, still need to have your passport with you to show on arrival and at UK immigration on your return.

And there’s a bribe ….

To encourage passengers to take part, those who agree will receive Fast Track security and priority boarding for their flight.

British Airways biometric checkin

Which routes are involved?

The trial is initially limited to the Malaga route. It will last for six months, before a decision is taken on whether to fully roll it out.

To quote ….

David Breeze, Operations Transformation Manager for British Airways, said:

“Not only is this the first time that our customers have been able to register their biometric information at home, but it’s the first time they can use it for British Airways’ international flights. This is a secure and efficient tool that makes for a smarter and smoother airport experience, which will reduce the time it takes us to board aircraft”

“The beauty of this technology is that it also frees our people up to look after more complex customer enquiries and deliver the best possible customer service.”

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Comments (96)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Kevin says:

    The only surprise here is how long this has taken! Tomorrows World told us about this in 1993 – the whole computers (or robots) replacing human tasks. I don’t blame BA. It is far more efficient for a computer to carry out repetitive tasks than a human. It’s only a matter of time before DNA testing for these sorts of things comes in.

    • Jack says:

      I want to be checked in by a human not a computer and having companies and government’s know more about me. Maybe we should move back to a human focus rather than rely on computers that do not work. This is a step back not forward I will, not subject to DNA test or any digital ID to fly it is mad personally

  • George K says:

    Does anyone remember any examples where the face tracking system in T5 has led to people being denied boarding at the gate because of the system ‘losing’ them at some point between security and the gate (e.g. because they went lounge hopping in T3) or something like that?

    I see to recall this being the case, but can’t remember the details

    • Tom says:

      Doubtful as there is always the option to manually be checked. Last time I went through this the system would not recognise me and so I just was checked old school.

      I am always sure to have a paper boarding pass as well, and never rely on either my phone or BA’s equipment.

      • cmcp says:

        I’m not sure it’s _always_ an option. I’m not 100% familiar with the technical details, but I’ve seen it go wrong with similar systems.

        At LGW for example, I was told if you check in with app and use app to go through security, you must use that exact app barcode to board at the gate.

        One time my battery was super low and luckily gate staff warned me to get plugged in. They said if they were to issue me with a paper boarding pass the LGW security wouldn’t let me board with a new barcode.

        I _think_ it’s issues something like this George might be referring to.

  • ediflyer says:

    I’d prefer they put the effort into fixing their rubbish app and website before moving onto new areas!

  • Jack says:

    When will BA finally get into their heads people do not want this rubbish I for a start want to be checked in by a human and reject any kind of digital ID , it is the start of a slippery slope. The IT does not work most of the time maybe focus on stuff people want like fixing the app and website instead of yet more penny pinching which it is to save on staffing costs for something people do not want . Also again devauling status benefits giving people doing this silly trial priority boarding and Fastrack should be status holders alone and kids/disabilities no one else

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