How contactless tech can rebuild passenger trust in air travel

Last updated: 22 July 2020

There is no doubt that the airline industry has been one of the most heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, KPMG recently reported that a total revenue loss of $252 billion has been anticipated for 2020.

But it’s not the first time the sector has faced a crisis. The tragic events of 9/11 for example, forced airports to introduce new safety measures and screening practices, fundamentally changing the infrastructure of airports across the world.

Using this proven adaptability to respond to a crisis will be essential for airports and airlines to reassure customers that it is safe to fly and encourage them to book travel. This is no easy feat, with a survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) from April, stating that 40% of would-be travellers from the UK, U.S., Australia, Germany and India said they would wait six months after the virus was under control before flying again.

Now, with airlines across Europe, Australia, and some parts of Asia being given the go ahead to resume their operations, the time has come for the airline industry to prove that it can ensure the safety of passengers and staff. A big part of this will be the introduction of further measures that limit contact as much as possible through the digitalisation of operations. In fact, 94 percent of stakeholders in the aviation industry see contactless technologies as crucial immediate investments.

How has contactless technology already been changing airports?

The trend of contactless operations in airports has been underway for a number of years already, with the aim of reducing queues and stress, and helping passengers to feel comfortable with a personalised, free flowing approach. For instance, a mobile ticket on your phone can now be used to get you through security, and you can also print out your own luggage labels, without having an employee verify it.

What other operations can be made contactless?

There are a variety of simple solutions that can be put in place immediately to reduce contact between humans and surfaces in an airport. Examples that are easy to install include contactless dispensers in the toilets, and contactless point of service terminals in duty free shops. However, to truly restore confidence, the whole stream of operations needs to be reshaped taking the “new normal” into consideration. Luckily, almost the entire airport experience can be made contactless – from going through security to boarding the plane, with the implementation of new technology.

How does biometric verification technology help?

By setting up a biometric pathway through the airport, we can reduce the time passengers spend in queues at each step of the travel process, as well as minimising passenger contact with the personnel operating in the airport.

With biometrics as our unique physical characteristics, passengers can be identified in seconds. In practice, when passengers decides to check-in and verify their ID online or at an airport kiosk, a token is created at check-in by matching their identity data from their ID/passport stored in their digital wallet, to the travel data on their boarding pass. This token can be physical, in the form of a mobile or paper boarding pass for example, or biometric, in the form of the passenger’s face.

The token is then used as a unique identifier, allowing the traveller to proceed through all airport touchpoints, and eliminating the need to present multiple documents several times along the way.

With this automated biometric and document verification technology, a seamless, end-to-end self-service experience is created. What’s more, for airport operators the system is an added layer of security that ensures boarding pass names match those of the passport holders.

For more on rebuilding customer confidence in air travel, read our Trust To Fly whitepaper. We will also be hosting a webinar on this topic on 23rd July 2020, where you can hear from our experts on how this system works in greater depth. If you’re interested in joining you can register here.

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