On 25 October, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) successfully tested the first fully integrated, biometrics-based digital identity travel experience, from shopping for flights to arrival, on a journey from London Heathrow (LHR) to Rome Fiumicino (FCO) with British Airways.
“While the technology exists to do this [use biometrics based digital identity] at each stage of a journey, linking these steps together has proven challenging. Today with our partners we showed that it is possible. This will open up a world of possibilities for simpler journeys in the future”, said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security.
Our vision for future travel is fully digital and secured with biometric identification.Nick Careen, IATA Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security
According to IATA, the test flight illustrates the potential of a future fully integrated digital travel experience leveraging biometrics through the optimisation of five key stages of travelling: personalised offers, simplified orders, effortless travel requirements check, simplified and secured check-ins and contactless airport experiences.
Integrating all the passengers’ data will enable them to receive personalized offers through all shopping channels. The LHR-FCO passenger shared their loyalty card data (stored as a verifiable credential in their smart phone’s digital wallet) with a travel agent. This enabled airlines to make personalized offers through the travel agent channel.
Once the traveller has chosen among the offers, an order is generated as a verifiable credential that can be stored in a digital wallet. No more Passenger Name Records (PNR), e-tickets or electronic miscellaneous documents are needed. All the information about the journey is stored in the verifiable credential, which can also be read as a QR code.
Along with the digital wallet, a digital passport (stored in the traveller’s digital wallet) will be a key enabler. By sharing the nationality data of the digital passport, passengers can confirm their travel document requirements before getting to the airport.
For travellers who choose to share their biometric data, storing their phone and proceeding hands-free (with their phone and their passport in their pocket or purse) through the airport will be possible. Biometric gates cleared the way for the LHR-FCO traveller through security, into lounges and onto the aircraft.
“As an airline, we are always innovating and looking at ways to make the customer journey as seamless as possible. We introduced biometric boarding on selected flights earlier this year and it has been a huge success with positive customer feedback. Working with IATA on enabling a fully integrated travel journey helps us build on that and shows us what could be possible in the future”, said Dirk John, British Airways Chief Information and Digital Officer.