Passport-free travel? New technology changing the airport experience

Passengers may soon have a more hands-free and hassle-free airport experience thanks to advances in biometric technology.

Sydney Airport in Australia has begun the initial phase of testing facial recognition technology on select international flights for Qantas, the country’s flag carrier. When complete, the technology would allow flyers to complete “most stages their airport journey using their face as their access identification.”

The first phase will test the technology at four “key steps” in the passenger journey, including automated check-in, bag drop, lounge access and boarding. The airport said additional steps for future trials could include mobile check-in and automated border processing.

“In the future, there will be no more juggling passports and bags at check-in and digging through pockets or smartphones to show your boarding pass – your face will be your passport and your boarding pass at every step of the process,” Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said in a statement.

The airport, which has 43 million passengers pass through annually, is the primary hub for Qantas. The airline said consent is sought from all customers participating in the trial and would follow the “strictest privacy standards” and comply with all “relevant legislation.”

“There is an increasing need for airlines and airports to offer faster and more convenient airport experiences and we’re excited to see what results the trial produces,” Qantas Chief Customer Officer Vanessa Hudson said in a statement.

The border processing procedures of the Australian government will not change, with travelers still required to undergo current border processes, the airport said.