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Frankfurt Airport introduces biometric and contactless air travel

Check-in, baggage drop-off, security check, and boarding: Passengers often have to find their boarding pass at the airport. At Frankfurt Airport, your face will become your boarding pass in the future.

In the future, passengers at Frankfurt Airport will be able to use the option to identify themselves with their biometric facial features at checkpoints.

On Thursday 26 October, Frankfurt Airport issued a press release in which the airport operator, Fraport AG, and the IT Company, SITA, present their collaboration on a biometric identity and identification system. The system has been named Smart Path.

Frankfurt International Airport is thus the first airport in Europe where this service is offered to passengers by all airlines.

Not a new concept

However, facial recognition checks are by no means a new concept at Frankfurt Airport. The technology is already used by more than 12,000 passengers at Germany’s largest airport. Since 2020, the system has been reserved for frequent flyer passengers of Lufthansa and its Star Alliance members, including SWISS.

Now this possibility is extended to include all passengers and all airlines.

Passengers can register in advance on their mobile device via the Star Alliance biometric app or directly at the check-in machine with their biometric passport. The entire registration process only takes a few seconds. Hence, your face becomes your boarding pass.

Once the traveler is registered, they pass through check-in, boarding pass control and boarding gates, etc., which are equipped with facial recognition, without showing physical documents.

Star Alliance passengers with a Miles & More card can store their characteristics permanently, while other passengers can only register for the booked flight with their ID card on specially set-up machines. The biometric data will be deleted three hours after the actual departure time, assured Fraport AG and SITA.

Biometrics enhance the airport experience

Pierre Dominique Prümm, who is Executive Director Aviation and Infrastructure at Fraport AG, says that the concrete agreements with the first airlines outside the Star Alliance are nearing completion. This means that in a very short time they can start installing the necessary equipment for facial recognition at the airport.

”Our goal for the coming months is to equip at least 50 percent of all check-in kiosks, pre-security and boarding gates  with the new and pioneering technology.”    elaborates Prümm.

Smart Path was developed by SITA and the American technology provider, NEC. The technology uses people’s individual facial features. At checkpoints, the face is then scanned in passing instead of presenting tickets or boarding passes each time.

According to SITA’s managing director, David Lavorel, research supports that around 75 percent of passengers prefer to use biometric solutions if given the opportunity. He also believes that technologies such as Smart Path give travelers a more pleasant experience at the airport:

“We have seen that the more we can automate the passenger journey in the airport, the better the experience. Biometric touchpoints significantly speed up the mandatory steps in the airport, giving passengers more time to relax before the flight rather than waiting in line.”

However, conventional identification procedures should still be possible, emphasizes Frankfurt Airport.

Also read about Lufthansa confirms launch of new airline in 2024.

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