Gatwick Airport has launched an end-to-end biometrics trial, where personal data collected at the airport’s self-service bag drops will be recognised by new automated self-boarding gates. The technology aims to simplify and speed up the process for passengers and reduce the risk of human error.
The trial is being run in partnership with easyJet and the new self-boarding technology will identify each passenger and verify that their passport, face and boarding card all match, which will take less than 20 seconds. Passengers who wish to take part in the trial but who are travelling without luggage and do not need to use a self-service bag drop unit will be able to have their data collected at the entrance to the boarding gate room.
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 43 Gatwick routes.
Gatwick will be looking at how long each interaction takes, what this means for queue times, how its simplifies the passenger journey, how passengers interact with the technology, and how intuitive the process is. The faster, more efficient process also has the potential to improve aircraft departure times. Once all the data is gathered, the technology will be adapted and adjusted before taking the idea forward for airport-wide implementation.
The boarding process has traditionally been handled by airline staff, but can now be automated with this technology, reducing queue times and freeing up airline staff to assist travellers.
Gatwick Airport’s Chief Operating Officer, Chris Woodroofe, said: “Gatwick prides itself on providing innovative solutions to enhance the passenger experience at every touch point. 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.”
Karen Cox, Director of Ground Operations, easyJet, added: “We are trialling new facial recognition technology at Gatwick for the first time which, if rolled out, could revolutionise the boarding experience for our customers. The technology streamlines the processes our customers go through, saving them time and enhancing their travel experiences.
“Whilst 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.”