British Airways trials smart tech allowing passport-free travel from Heathrow Airport

Airline announces new scheme for Malaga-bound passengers from Terminal 5

Passengers queueing at British Airways check-in desks in Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5.  Reuters
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British Airways is set to become the first UK airline to use smart technology that will allow passengers to travel abroad without using their passports upon departure.

The company has outlined its plans to trial biometric technology for international flights from Heathrow Terminal 5.

In what is being described as a UK first, passengers will be invited to scan their face, passport and boarding pass on their smartphones or tablets before flying.

When trial participants arrive at the airport, Smart Bio-Pod cameras willverify their identity in less than three seconds, allowing them to keep their passport in their pocket until they reach their destination.

David Breeze, Operations Transformation Manager for British Airways, said this is the first time that passengers can record their biometric information at home.

“Not only is this the first time that our customers have been able to register their biometric information at home, but it’s the first time they can use it for British Airways’ international flights.”

He said that the technology will allow for a “smarter and smoother airport experience” which will reduce the time it takes to board aircraft.

“The beauty of this technology is that it also frees our people up to look after more complex customer enquiries and deliver the best possible customer service”, he said.

The trial will run for six months on British Airways flights to Malaga, Spain.

BA have promised that passengers' details will be securely stored and those opting in will enjoy Fast-Track security lane and priority boarding.

If the trial is successful, it is expected to be extended to more international flights from the airport.

British Airways became the first UK airline to use automated biometric technology on domestic flights in 2017, recording customers’ facial scans at security and matching them at the boarding gate.

Updated: November 15, 2022, 4:44 PM