Emirates’ biometric path is a glimpse into the airport journey of the future

For many corporate travellers the airport experience is one of the biggest pain points in the customer journey. But, United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier Emirates Airline believes that delivering the world’s first integrated “biometric path” at its hub at Dubai International Airport will raise the global bar for airport customer experience.


Summary:

  • Emirates Airline’s adoption of biometric technology across multiple points from check-in to boarding is world first in terms of its integration across airport stakeholders;
  • It is already at an advanced stage of implementation with testing programme already “live”, and pilot trials involving passengers to follow;
  • In phased development since 2015, the multi-million dollar programme is part of Emirates’ continued investment to offer an industry-leading customer experience.

Utilising the latest biometric technology – a mix of facial and iris recognition, Emirates passengers can soon check in for their flight, complete immigration formalities, enter the Emirates Lounge, and board their flights, simply by strolling through the airport. The latest biometric equipment has already been installed at Emirates’ Terminal 3, Dubai International Airport.

This equipment can be found at select check-in counters, at the Emirates Lounge in Concourse B for premium passengers, and at select boarding gates. Areas where biometric equipment are installed will be clearly marked, acknowledges the airline.

Trials for the Smart Tunnel, a project by the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA) in collaboration with Emirates, was launched on 10-Oct-2018. It is a world-first for passport control, where passengers simply walk through a 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 launch trials for biometric processing at the other key customer points at the airport – check-in, lounge, and boarding gate – and subsequently at transit counters/gates, and for its chauffeur drive services. It says all biometric data will be stored with GDRFA, and customers invited to participate in the trials will be asked for their consent.

Emirates’ biometric path is sure to improve customer experience and customer flow through the airport with less document checks and less queuing. Eventually, the ‘live’ passenger tracking capability will also improve security and the airline’s ability to deliver even better and more personalised services. For instance, the airline notes the tracking will enable the Emirates airport team “to locate and assist ‘late’ customers who would otherwise miss their flights”. But, while offering obvious benefits, there will remain many travellers concerned over their privacy.

The UAE carrier confirms that the biometric path will cover departures, arrivals, transit, chauffeur drive connections, and lounge access in Dubai. Initially focused on First and Business class travellers, Emirates intends to speedily extend it also to Economy class travellers in Dubai, and in the future potentially to other airports outside of Dubai, and also for its own dedicated crew check in facility.