The normal boarding process happens in an all to familiar way: line up with your boarding pass for a gate agent check. Most people are already used to the process, but one day facial recognition technology could be used to make the process faster. When that day comes, you may not need to show any document to the gate agent. Low cost carrier Air Asia is currently testing out its new biometric facial recognition technology for checking boarding passengers, the first airline in Asia to do so.
Air Asia recently unveiled the new technology - named Fast Airport Clearance Experience System (FACES) - at Senai International Airport in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The new system uses the facial recognition technology to identify enrolled passengers as they walk towards the gate, allowing for boarding without presenting a boarding pass or valid ID. Travelers would have to enroll at kiosks in the check-in area, have their ID scanned by machine, and have their photo taken.
The process to enroll on the program is a one-time process, which would allow for use for future Air Asia flights and would provide the additional benefit of expedited security screening. Travellers would have to update their information should their valid ID becomes expired. While used for boarding, it will not replace the standard security screening or immigration checks.
Tony Fernandes, Air Asia Group CEO said, “Airports are typically the worst part of flying. FACES marks our latest effort to make the on-ground experience more seamless and less stressful by using cutting edge biometric technology to authenticate guests. With FACES, your face is your passport, making it a breeze to clear the gate and board your flight."
Fernandes also noted the management of Senai's airport for allowing Air Asia to implement the new system. “I want to thank Senai International Airport for once again supporting our efforts to improve the travel experience for our guests through digital innovation, as they did when they became the first airport in Malaysia to implement self-service baggage check-in. We hope the success of FACES here will serve as an inspiration and we are keen to work with other airports in Malaysia to revolutionise the way people travel with this technology and make flying enjoyable again.”
The new facial recognition technology is part of a move by airlines to integrate new technologies to the passenger experience. For now, the service will be offered and tested more at Senai Airport. As the airline looks to digitize more of its traveller experiences, we can see expect to see the technology expanded to more travellers on Air Asia's network.