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‘Forward-Facing’: Could Facial Recognition Turn Back the Clock on the U.S. Airport Experience?


If you flew commercially prior to 9/11, you can recall how different the experience used to be. You could pull up to the airport 15 minutes before the flight, speed-walk to the gate, flash your boarding pass and take your seat on the plane. If your heart was racing, you saw it as a consequence of your own tardiness—not fear of terrorism or outrage over the sluggish pace of the security line. By contrast, the post-9/11 “new normal” is one in which travelers feel compelled to get to the airport two or three hours early. They expect major and minor stresses alike, everything from unruly passengers shouting at gate attendants, to the awkwardness of holding up your pants while your belt sits in a plastic box on a conveyer.

Fortunately for airport operators, some encouraging signs suggest that this state of affairs could change. An optimist might even wonder whether a trip to the airport in 2029 will feel a bit like a throwback to 1999. Chalk it up to rapid advances in biometric ID technologies as well as the evolution of highly efficient approaches to passenger pre-check. One technology in particular—facial-recognition scanning—could be a game-changer. But as our society adjusts to what can seem, at least to some, like an invasive change, the aviation industry will need to handle the onboarding of this technology with care and sensitivity.

Read the full article in AviationPros here.

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