SAVING FACE
SAVING FACE
Biometrics continue to smooth the flow of travelers as more airports adopt the science
Lark Gould and Riaan Jacob George

Increasingly, inexorably, automation is on the rise at security checkpoints, arrival halls and departure gates in airports across the world. The reason is abundantly clear to anyone who travels with any regularity; screening areas are a constant source of traveler frustration, anxiety and, in too many cases, missed flights.

However technology may be turning the corner for the checkpoint experience. In fact, according to the J.D. Power 2019 North America Customer Airport Satisfaction Study, while overall customer satisfaction with North American airports rose only 1 point last year (primarily due to construction-related aggravation at most major airports), the experience of getting through airport security – a perennial drag on airport satisfaction scores – has improved 5 points.

The study credits the rising score to speedier TSA processing and more widespread adoption of biometric screening technologies that move passengers through security faster. Civil liberties and privacy advocates continue to raise concerns about the amount of data being harvested and what happens to that information. However airlines, airports, technology providers and government authorities argue that strong technical security safeguards are in place and the amount of personally identifiable information used in the facial biometric process is limited.

Regardless, the trend seems set only to grow as a greater number of airports and airlines adopt these tools. Here are some of the latest updates from the field.

DELTA AIR LINES

Things have come a long way, and quickly, since Delta launched optional facialrecognition technology in Atlanta in 2018 after two years of testing. At the time, the airline touted it as the first biometric terminal in the country. Since then, the airline has expanded biometric boarding to Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, New York, Detroit and Los Angeles.

HOUSTON HOBBY AIRPORT

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April 2020