We tasted the future of travel during our latest European trip after encountering expanded eye-scanning systems at international airports.
It’s all part of Biometric E-gate changes being introduced or trialled at some airports around the globe.
Thanks to the Apple iPhone, most people seem comfortable with fingerprint identification – and we’d come across this technology at US border checks for many years.
But, in the past year, we noticed a variety of other biometric screening systems appearing at some airports in Europe and the UK, to verify the identity of travellers.
The systems we encountered seemed to work hand-in-hand with boarding passes and passport checks by airlines themselves, but some of the trials have apparently tested whether scanning could replace such traditional systems altogether.
At the same time, iris scanning is appearing at more and more airport security lines – sometimes on a voluntary basis as an alternative to lengthy passport-checking queues.
From our experience, the use of biometric systems seems a fairly unobtrusive extension of automation at airports. Things do seem to move faster, which is always a big plus.
Logically, the scans should also help improve security.
Like every new system, there are hiccups. We came across scanners that didn’t work and others that were confusing to use.
And, we heard the occasional grumble among fellow travellers about data security and privacy.
However, that aside, it looks like biometrics is the way airports and possibly even airlines are moving, with the aim of improving and speeding-up the experience for travellers.
Now, if only they could find a way to replace the ancient airport baggage carousel!