Air passengers support biometrics to streamline travel processes

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Air passengers support biometrics to streamline travel processes
Source: IATA
November 15, 2021

According to an IATA survey, 73% of travelers are willing to share their biometric data to simplify boarding processes at airports

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has published the results of the 2021 Global Passenger Survey (GPS), which are summarized in two conclusions:
• Passengers support biometric identification if it speeds up the travel process.
• Air passengers don't want to waste time in queues.
“Passengers rely on rapidly advancing technology to streamline the travel process and reduce waiting time in queues, and they support biometric identification if it does so. Before air traffic begins to grow again, we have an opportunity before us to ensure a smooth resumption of air travel after the pandemic and offer greater long-term efficiency for passengers, airlines, airports and governments ”, said Nick Careen, IATA's senior vice president of operations and security.

Biometric identification
• 73% of passengers are willing to share their biometric data to simplify travel processes at airports (up from 46% in 2019).
• 88% do not mind sharing information for customs control before their departure in order to speed up the travel process.

Just over a third of passengers (36%) have already experienced the use of biometric data when traveling. Of these, 86% are satisfied with the experience.
Data protection remains a major issue: 56% are concerned that their data may be breached. In addition, passengers demand clarity about the destination of their data (52%) and how it is used or processed (51%).

• 55% of passengers identified boarding queues as one of the main areas for improvement.
• 41% of passengers identified the queues at the security control as one of the main areas for improvement.
• 38% of passengers identified queues at customs control as one of the main areas for improvement.
“The new verification of documents related to COVID-19 is delaying travel processes at airports. Before COVID-19, passengers spent an average 1.5 hours in the travel process (check-in, security, customs control and baggage claim). Current data indicates that while air travel represents only 30% of pre-crisis levels, travel processes at airports have increased to an average of 3 hours. The largest increase occurs in billing and customs control (emigration and immigration), where the support of health credentials to travel continues to be paper.

This exceeds the time that passengers want to dedicate to processes at the airport. The survey concludes that:
• 85% of passengers want the travel process to last less than 45 minutes if they are traveling with hand luggage.
• 90% of passengers want the travel process to last less than an hour if they check in their luggage.

IATA, in collaboration with industry partners, has developed two initiatives that have proven effective in streamlining travel processes and that will support the resumption of aviation after the pandemic.

IATA Travel Pass is a solution designed to manage the tangle of travel credentials around the world. This app ensures data privacy and allows passengers to securely verify their travel requirements, receive test results, scan their vaccination certificates, verify and share easily —with health officials and airlines— destination and transit requirements prior to departure, and finally the use of e-gates. This will reduce queues and congestion during documentation verification, to the benefit of travelers, airlines, airports and governments.
One ID helps the industry get passengers from the lobby to the departure lounge using a single biometric identification, such as face, fingerprint or iris scan. One ID has the strong support of the airlines. Now there is an urgent need for regulation relevant to the paperless travel experience. One Id will not only improve the efficiency of travel processes, but will allow governments to optimize their resources.

“We cannot go back to the way things were in 2019 and hope that our customers are satisfied. Before the pandemic, we were gearing up to take self-service to the next level with One ID. The crisis makes promises of efficiency and cost savings even more urgent. And we need technologies like Travel Pass, capable of promoting self-service, otherwise the recovery will be impaired by paper processes. The GPS results demonstrate once again the need for change, ”said Careen.
The GPS results are based on 13,579 surveys conducted in 186 countries. The survey provides information about passengers' travel experience and what they would like to improve. Visit to download detailed results.

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