The Rise of Biometric Technology at Airports


Biometric technology is rapidly gaining momentum at airports worldwide. Today, the technology has been adopted as a solidified solution and due to its uniqueness, provides a wide range of services – fingerprint locking systems, biometric attendance machines, and facial recognition access control systems are just a few examples. As a result, airlines, airport operators, and government entities are implementing the technology as a means to intensify security and advance passenger processing[1].

The history of air travel and biometric-based digital IDs goes back to 2001 when a U.S. legislation mandated biometrics for both entry and exit[2]. Fast forward to today where we’re seeing a preference for contactless experiences which have elevated biometric technology on top of consumer acceptance. According to Simple Flying (a leading independent voice for aviation news and insight), close to three-quarters of airports worldwide have invested in some form of biometric technology with airline investment expecting to rise 60% by 2024.

What exactly does biometric technology look like? Let’s take a closer look.

Biometric screening – identity verification

According to TechTarget, biometrics is the measurement and statistical analysis of an individual’s physical and behavioral characteristics. It has the ability to assess unique individual traits, such as fingerprints and iris recognition technology, and facial scans which are used to identify and verify a person’s identity with maximum accuracy. Biometric technology greatly increases the efficiency of passenger screening. One example of a robust biometric-based solution is TravelStream which enables seamless and secure passenger processing from curb-to-gate.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have mandated to explore and evaluate efficiency and expanded use of biometrics. The TSA developed a biometric roadmap which includes the following:

1 – Partner with CBP on biometrics for international travelers

2 – Deploy biometrics for TSA pre-check travelers

3 – Expand biometrics to additional domestic travelers

4 – Develop a supporting foundation for biometric solutions

Facial recognition has been the primary means of identity verification and is leading to more secure airports. In 2021, a report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology revealed that facial recognition was found to be at least 99.5% accurate as comparable to the best results of iris scanners.

Key advantages of biometric technology

One of the primary points of biometric technology is its ability to eliminate the need to use passwords. With biometric technology, a person’s identity can be validated without access to documents which may have been stolen, misplaced, or modified[3]. Due to its usability, investment benefits, and future potential, biometric technology is experiencing a surge around the world.

Here are several advantages of biometric technology:

  • Superior level of security and assurance – Biometric identification quickly and securely identifies passengers with precision. By leveraging a self-service technology, airlines and airports deploying a biometric-based passenger automation solution can offer a cohesive and consistent service to their passengers.
  • User experience – Biometric technology can be quite technical but from a user’s perspective it is incredibly quick and convenient. These biometric systems have the ability to recognize people swiftly and consistently.
  • Non-transferable – The unique identifier with biometric technology is that it requires its input to be present upon authorization. Thus, the only way to operate biometric systems is with a physical application.
  • Difficult to falsify – Biometrics is near-impossible to replicate. There is a 1 in 64 billion chance that one person’s fingerprint will match up exactly with someone else’s[4].


Efficiency and safety of airport processes

As highlighted above, biometric technology not only creates a more secure, seamless passenger experience, but greatly increases efficiency. Delta Airlines and NEC launched the first biometric terminal in 2018 at Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson Airport. Equipped with facial recognition technology, the Delta VelocityOne (V1) Check in kiosks allow passengers to check-in at self-service kiosks; check in their luggage at self-service bag drops; identify at TSA Checkpoints; and more.

In 2019, in an effort to speed up international traveller processing by up to 50%, Calgary Airport along with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) launched facial imaging cameras, biometric fingerprint readers, and custom software to provide a faster experience for travelers.

With health and safety being top of mind for travelers, digital identities provide an opportunity for more streamlined data[5]. These biometric-enabled digital identities help to eliminate unnecessary contact (i.e., passing documents back and forth with TSA agents). As a result, they connect passengers to a greater travel ecosystem.


The implementation of biometric technology will affect the way airport processes are operated. It has already begun to change the relationship between travelers, airlines, and airports with the aim of bringing security and efficiency to all parties involved.

At Embross, we design, install, and deploy a broad spectrum of biometric solutions to help you achieve these significant changes. If you would like to learn more, don’t hesitate to contact a member of our expert team:









Author: Omar Abbasi, Marketing Manager