Frequent flyers in U.S. support facial recognition as airports around the world launch biometric trials

Three out of four frequent flyers in the U.S. favor the use of biometric facial recognition to identify both domestic and foreign travelers, according to a survey conducted by Xenophon Strategies for NEC Corporation of America.

The survey indicates that 87 percent of Americans approve of the use of facial recognition to identify criminals and terrorists for air travel safety purposes, and more than 71 percent would pay a $10 fee to bypass lines, with security and check-in lines cited as top sources of annoyance.

“Airlines are reporting that they can board jumbo jets in about a third less time by using face recognition at the gate. Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports they have been able to stop more than 100 imposters trying to enter the country on false documents. These successes would not have happened—and will not continue to happen—without facial recognition,” argues Xenophon Strategies President David Fuscus.

Frequent flyers also support end-to-end deployments of biometric technology, with more than 84 percent of respondents saying they would opt in to a system using facial recognition instead of paper documents for bag drop, check in, security, and boarding processes.

“There is enormous interest in facial recognition technology in the U.S. from airports, airlines, hotels, rental car agencies, and an array of other providers in the smart travel industry,” says Raffie Beroukhim, Sr. Vice President of Advanced Recognition Systems for NEC. “This growth is fueled by positive feedback from travelers who are pleased with the experience and added sense of security they get from using biometric technology, as well as the efficiency experienced by the airlines. This survey reinforces the feedback we consistently get when the technology is launched at a new airport.”

The survey also found that 78 percent are aware of the use of facial recognition for international travelers entering and exiting the U.S., while 48 percent know of biometric programs being implemented by airlines. When asked what applications they would like to see facial biometrics used for, more than 50 percent answered ticket bookings, car rentals, and hotel check-ins, while just under half would like customized signage at the airport, 21 percent would like to use it for purchases in the airport, and nine percent would like it to be used for customizing outdoor ads.

Romania

Biometric Automatic Border Control (ABC) is coming to Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport with the installation of six new gates, Romanian outlet AGERPRES reports.

The new gates will enable travelers to complete border control checks without being processed by a border guard, and Bucharest National Airport Company (CNAB) spokesperson Valentin Iordache says that along with combining two processing areas, the technology could significantly reduce waiting times.

The airport also plans to expand both its runway and terminal area, among a series of expansions and upgrades.

India

A facial recognition system for security checks under the government’s Digi Yatra program has been launched on a trial basis at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad, according to a report by The Hindu.

The three-day trial includes biometric checks outside of a pair of domestic departure gates, on a voluntary basis. Sources told The Hindu that 180 people enrolled in Digi Yatra at Hyderabad on the first day of the trial. During the trial, security officials will still physically verify travelers’ documents and ID details.

Japan

Japanese authorities are planning to launch facial recognition for customs checks of departing international passengers at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on July 24, before a broader roll-out, The Japan Times reports.

The biometric system, which does not require pre-enrolment, will also be rolled out at major airports in Chiba, Osaka, Fukuoka, Aichi, Hokkaido and Okinawa prefectures by next July. It will only be available to those on visas of up to three months, however, as those spending longer in Japan require verification of their residence status.

An immigration official was quoted by the Times as saying the verification against the facial biometrics stored in the traveler’s passport will take 15 seconds.

Facial recognition for immigration procedures have been available to Japanese travelers at Japan’s airports since 2017. Automated gates with fingerprint scanning technology are also in use at five major airports in the country, but require pre-registration.

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