A series of pilot schemes to test the use of biometric technology throughout the end-to-end passenger journey have been unveiled by the World Travel & Tourism Council.

The US Customs and Border Protection and UK Border Agency have been approached to collaborate on the first pilot.

WTTC is working with American Airlines, Dallas Fort Worth international airport, Hilton, and MSC Cruises on the plans.

The first pilot will see travellers on flights between Dallas Fort Worth or London using biometric technology to conduct all airline security, airport and border processes before accessing car rental and hotel check-in using the same biometric information.

Passengers will be able to trial the application of biometric technology at every stage of the travel process in the first half of 2019 – from the point of booking, check-in, through airports, airline boarding, border management, car hire, hotel, cruise and during the journey.

“All of these corporations and the members of WTTC share a commitment to making the travel process safer and more efficient through the use of biometric technology,” the organisation said.

Pilot schemes by airlines, airports, hospitality, cruise, car rental, and tour operators, will be able to jointly test different technologies that inter-connect and work to improve the traveller experience.

WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara said: “In 2019 travellers between Dallas Fort Worth international airport and London will be able to experience the future of travel.

“Our vision is that the traveller won’t need to provide the same information or passport multiple times. Instead, their experience will be seamless, faster and more enjoyable throughout their entire journey.

“Biometrics will work at every touchpoint of the journey to make travelling easier for the passenger while providing border services with greater security.

“99.9% of travellers are considered low risk. By using technology to minimise queues, we can give low-risk travellers more time to enjoy the travel experience.

“These travellers, by using technology, will be able to spend their time enjoying the experience, shopping at airports or more time at destinations rather than worrying about long queues.”

The move came as it emerged that the world’s first “biometric path” using a mix of facial and iris recognition is to be introduced by Emirates at Dubai International airport.

Passengers will be able to check in for their flight, complete immigration formalities, enter a lounge and board their flights by utilising the latest biometric technology as they pass through the airport.

The latest biometric equipment has been installed at Emirates Terminal 3 at the airport.

Claimed as a world-first for passport control, passengers walk through a ‘smart tunnel’ and are cleared by immigration authorities without human intervention or the need for a physical passport stamp.

Once its internal tests are completed, Emirates will shortly start trialling biometric processing at check-in, lounge, and boarding gate – and subsequently at transit counters/gates, and for its chauffeur drive services.

The “biometric path” aims to improve passenger flow through the airport with fewer document checks and less queuing.

Eventually, the “live” passenger tracking capability will also improve security and the airline’s ability to deliver better and more personalised services.

It will cover departures, arrivals, transit, chauffeur drive connections, and lounge access in Dubai.

Initially focussed on first and business class travellers, Emirates intends to extend the “biometric path” to economy class travellers in Dubai, and potentially to other airports outside Dubai in the future.

Passengers invited to participate in the trials will be asked for their consent.

The airline’s chief operations officer Adel Al Redha said: “After extensive research and evaluation of numerous technologies and new approaches to enhance our passenger journey, we are now satisfied with the preliminary work we have carried out and are ready to commence live trials of the world’s first biometric path at Emirates Terminal 3.”

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