Enter the world of Travel and enjoy till it last

Arun Bright - Lead Product Owner - Sabre Global Development Center, BengaluruAir travel becomes cumbersome when traveler has to go through the routine of going through the security procedure to board the aircraft.But imagine walking into the airport, and you are detected by smart systems that automatically checks-in you into your flight, let you walk past security and immigration checks then allow you to board the flight without having to present any travel document like passport, visa or even boarding pass. With evolution in technology, this experience is no longer a distant dream. Technology systems that leverage travellers Biometrics information can be a game-changer in this space.

Advanced airport check-in systems are integrated with countries government security systems to get real-time security clearance for travellers during the check-in process, ensuring only legitimate travellers enter their country. The government determines if a traveller can enter the country based on the profile along with the passport, visa and other details. With the advance in biometrics, each traveller can be uniquely identified with their biometric information, and these details can act as an alias to travel document details including boarding pass, passport and visa. Future check-in system could be built such that the traveller’s biometric information can be leveraged to replace travel documents such as passport, visa and boarding pass, to provide a seamless experience for the traveller. In the absence of direct involvement by government bodies, IT system providers could provide this option to those travellers who agree to share their biometric details for air travel.

With world air travel expected to double in the next two decades, the travel industry has not missed out on adopting this wave of biometrics to reduce the queue time at the airport.
IATA (trade association of world’s airlines), has introduced IATA’s One ID. One ID, travellers will no longer need to present travel documents multiple times in their journey. With a one-time identification, travellers can be easily recognized across all travellers touchpoint. This means travellers will not have to present the document multiple times but use the single biometric identification token for the entire travel. IATA quotes as “One ID will enable passengers to arrive at the airport ready to fly in nearly every travel scenario.”

Change is the only constant, innovation fuels this constant. There have been trends in the Industry to use single boarding pass stock to print multiple flight segment details in a single boarding pass. While legacy boarding passes have been revived by introducing pictures and colours, getting away completely from physical boarding pass or boarding pass on the mobile device will not happen in the next immediate future. When the systems are mature and adoption of new technology for biometrics is backed by government support, data security, mutual trust and transparency between partner systems the adoption to paper-less boarding pass will be rapid. In advanced countries after the innovators and early adaptors start using biometrics for seamless travel, the late majority would be expected to catch up with this trend in less than couple of years.

Data protection plays a vital role in the success of biometric boarding. If unauthorized person /group get access to traveller’sbiometricdata,it would spell disaster as these data can be exploited to trick the system artificially. The accuracy level of biometicdevices at the airports must be very high, else there will be breach of security at border control allowing wrong travellers cross international boundary. There could be resistance from the travellers to share their biometric details in the early days of this technology wave, there could be pressure on the IT spending to supporting the new technology as data privacy play a major role. However, the industry is welcoming these changes. Biometric boarding has already become a way of life in a few airports in the USA.

In future biometrics would be extended for all touchpoints in a passenger journey, when this happens air travel will be as simple as walking into airport, drop the bags at the baggage kiosk, walk past the security clearance, and then proceed to boarding gate. With more technology advances around IoT, wearable device, biometric passport, biometrics will be accepted as the norm in many areas of life for identity management. This can be leveraged check-in from the hotel and on the curbside. The next level to this would be integratedtraveller’s social media feed along with biometrics to profile the travellers. New technology will have some learning curve for the traveller to get comfortable to use these systems in the absence of an airport agent. These technologies would make travel seamless for sure, but this would remove the human touch that is presently found at the airport, whether it is good or bad it can only be debated when the rubber hits the road.