Travel Trends: Are Biometric Boarding Passes the Next Business Traveler Perk?

Biometric Boarding Passes are Likely in our Future

A decade ago, the thought of unlocking your smartphone with your fingerprint may have seemed far-fetched. Now we are using the pads of our thumbs to make purchases, download new applications and clear immigration. Biometrics are a reality.

With TransPerfect having locations in 84 countries, my office is just as likely to be a desk as it is a seat aboard a plane. The recent advancement in biometric technology allows me to proceed through the airport as quickly as possible, without any inconveniences. The question now is how much farther are biometrics going to take us?

In July, Delta announced a new partnership with CLEAR – a biometric membership aimed toward easing the process of going through airport security. It is currently available at various Delta hubs such as JFK, LaGuardia, LAX, Detroit, Atlanta, as well as some sporting stadiums including Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. When used in tandem with TSA PreCheck, Clear is by far the fastest way to get airside, even on a very busy day at the airport.

While programs such as TSA PreCheck and CLEAR require enrollment and a small fee, non-members are still able to benefit from the biometric revolution. Anyone who has arrived back into the United States recently will have not failed to notice how different Customs and Immigration look now. Gone are the long snaking lines replaced with automated terminals which validate travelers’ fingerprints against those stored on a chip in their passport, and allowing them to fill out the customs form on screen.

So what’s next in this revolution? I fully expect boarding gates to become fully automated within the next 5 years. Already airlines like Lufthansa are pioneering this in Europe for Schengen area flights, but with the addition of biometric identity validation, these automated gates could be used worldwide for all flights. Not only will this speed up boarding, but it will also allow airlines to properly enforce boarding priority.

Facial recognition is also set to play a larger part in this process. The next iPhone is strongly rumored to have replaced users’ fingerprint with their faces for the unlock action. I expect airlines and airports will follow their lead fairly quickly.

Written By Guest Author Phil Shawe, Co-CEO of TransPerfect

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