May 6, 2016


Air travel is highly experiential, and long lines at security checkpoints are a universal pet peeve. Removing shoes, organizing liquids into clear plastic bags, and unpacking certain electronics is exhausting. Global entry and other domestic security expediting programs have made strides in reducing the long lines, but biometrics may help improve things even more.

The latest facial recognition technology doesn’t just track the traveler at security — it can actually follow them through their entire airport experience. Biometric security measures make sense for travel; they allow us to read and track everything from fingerprints to head shape and gait, and algorithms have been developed to recognize people based on their passport photos and ID numbers. Most importantly, matching the passenger with their ID will be less of a guessing game and judgment call with the precision of biometrics like facial recognition.

Use of biometrics by Customs and Border Patrol has already taken off in the United States, where it debuted at Washington Dulles International Airport last year, and rolled out at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in January 2016. Japan has enabled biometrics at all of their airports resulting in shorter wait times for travelers passing through immigration. Passenger photos that are not subject to secondary investigation are not stored, eliminating broader concerns of privacy. Biometrics represent a promising future of minimized data and identity theft, which may be early indicators of success for the technology as a permanent part airports security procedures globally.


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