Making the passenger journey touchless: Biometrics on the rise

Guest Author by Guest Author | Feb 17, 2021

Written by Michael Overkaemping, Product Manager, Access & Biometric Solutions at Materna IPS

Since the COVID-19 outbreak airports and airlines have been constantly working on guaranteeing a safe travel experience and minimizing the risk of infection. Increased hygiene standards and health care applications have been extremely helpful to ensure a secure passenger experience. But there are other solutions that have been around for much longer and can benefit the aviation industry in various ways during these difficult times. Since the harrowing terrorist attacks of 9/11 15 years ago, the importance of biometric technologies and face recognition have been on the rise. By implementing biometric technology passengers have the opportunity to identify themselves within seconds and don’t have to physically interact with airport staff.

The future of self-service is now

There are software applications for all passenger touchpoints from the curb to boarding. The concept is to allow biometric enrolment including automated ID-Check at the first point of interaction with the passenger at touchpoints like check-in or self bag drop (SBP), where existing applications and hardware will include biometrics. Forward-looking technologies such as self-service systems have been proven to be reliable solutions to cope with rising passenger numbers in the past but now show their strength in minimizing social interaction. The industry made great experiences last year by developing solutions that allow passengers to operate a self-bag drop unit by simply using their very own mobile phone like TouchlessConnect. In addition, other touchpoints such as boarding or security gates can be equipped with biometric technology as well, making the passenger journey completely contactless.

Benefits of biometric technology

  • You can choose between different options: face, iris, fingerprint, face recognition even works with PPE masks
  • Continuous passenger stream minimizes queues and thus helps to eliminate infection risks
  • Your face becomes your ticket à minimizes physical interactions with potentially contaminated surfaces such as self-service equipment
  • Less personal contact between airport staff and passengers thanks to self-service solutions
  • Helps identify security gaps and reacting immediately to stricter safety standards

Biometrics in action

The One ID-Check describes a process where the biometric authentication is integrated into the bag drop journey. The SBD checks if the passengers’ photo and name match the passenger standing in front of the SBD as well as the name on the boarding pass and the ID. Depending on the airports requirements and national standards, travellers have the opportunity to either identify themselves with their ID or their driver’s license. The different options offer the airport various ways to check their passengers’ identity without physically interacting with them while maintaining high security standards. In this way implementing biometric technology can help restore confidence in safe air travel and regaining passengers trust in the  current situation. Biometric technologies will have a lasting impact to the passenger journey post COVID. Currently, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)  only performs manual ID checks but could take the opportunity to implement new technologies to create a more streamlined and safe process.


Michael Overkaemping is responsible for the business development and product management of biometric integration.

Materna IPS offers passenger handling services at different touchpoints such as pre-security and self-boarding. Michael is a specialist in biometrics and has gained huge knowledge in this field through numerous projects. He works closely with technology partners on several industry trials in Europe and North America. Michael started his career at Materna in 1999.


The article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of ACI, its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.

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