London Heathrow trials innovative boarding technology
Heathrow passengers are
the first in the world to use an innovative technology as part of the airport’s
drive to further improve the passenger experience. Terminal 1 passengers are being
invited to take part in a two-month ‘self-boarding’ trial in partnership with South
African Airways, using biometric data to make boarding faster and more efficient.
When passengers reach the ‘self-boarding’ gate, they pass through an automatic electronic barrier that takes an infrared scan
of their face. This information is checked against the biometric data that was
taken at the check-in stage. When the two sets of data scans are successfully
matched, the barrier opens and the passenger can pass through and board their flight.
The technology means that a passenger’s identity needs to be checked by airline
staff only once in the whole departure process, reducing the time it takes for
passengers to get to their seats ready for take-off. It also allows airline
staff to spend more time with passengers who require more assistance.
The personal data is stored
securely and will be destroyed at the end of the trial. So far over 300 South
African Airways passengers have chosen to use the technology for their departure.
New technology is already
being used by passengers throughout the departure process, from checking in via
mobile phones, self-service bag drops to automated
ticket presentation prior to passenger security. Introduced in November 2012,
the self-service bag drop enables passengers to generate and attach their own
bag tags before placing their luggage on to the automated
bag drop facility. Feedback from this trial has been positive, showing passengers
are quick to adopt new technology to help streamline their journey through the airport.