Star Alliance hopes to introduce first biometric solution at one of its airport hubs by first quarter of 2020

30 July, 2019

Star Alliance and NEC Corporation have signed a partnership agreement to develop a biometric data-based identification platform that aims to significantly improve the travel experience for frequent flyer programme customers of Star Alliance member airlines. While many airlines and airports are already adopting biometric-based solutions, this interoperable platform seeks to not just deliver a seamless customer journey, but also strengthen loyalty value proposition within the travel ecosystem.

Once implemented, Star Alliance customers who opt-in to biometrics will have a seamless and handsfree passenger experience, allowing them to pass through curb-to-gate touchpoints within airports, such as check-in kiosks, bag-drop, lounges, and boarding gates, which traditionally require both a passport and boarding pass, by using a secure identity management solution featuring facial recognition technology.

The service will be available to customers who are enrolled in one of the Star Alliance frequent flyer programmes and who have authorised the use of their biometric data and will help airports where it is deployed and Star Alliance's member airlines to increase operational efficiency.

With a few easy steps on their mobile device, customers will have the option to enrol in the new platform. They only need to enrol once and can then use their biometrics data multiple times at biometrics touchpoints of any participating airport whenever they travel with a Star Alliance member airline.

The partners say that personal data, such as photo and other identification details, will be encrypted and safely stored within the platform. From the outset, the system has been designed in compliance with applicable data protection laws making use of the latest facial recognition technology and personal data can only be processed with the consent of the passenger.

While the aim is to offer a seamless document free experience through the airport, security and immigration procedures may mean that passengers may still be required to show their passport during these phases of the airport journey during security and immigration procedures.

Biometrics, particularly facial recognition is already changing the travel experience and frequent flyers are a travel group that will be most open to technology improvements to enhance their regular airport journeys.

"At Star Alliance we are committed to making the customer journey better, and this strategic partnership with NEC will help us make the way from curb to gate to aircraft a much simpler, yet innovative experience for our customers," says Jeffrey Goh, CEO Star Alliance.

Star Alliance and NEC hope to introduce first biometric solution at one of Star's airport hubs by the first quarter of 2020. But, where will that be? Well, Star Alliance officials remain publicly tight-lipped which will be the first of its hubs to adopt the technology. The alliance network now extends to 1,300 airports worldwide, but CAPA analysis of OAG schedule data highlights that Frankfurt, Istanbul, Beijing and Chicago are home to its largest hubs with over one million weekly system seats.

CHART - Frankfurt is home to the Star Alliance headquarters and it is also the alliance's largest hub by system seats this week, albeit Istanbul's new international airport has a similar capacity offeringSource: CAPA - Centre for Aviation and OAG (data: w/c 29-Jul-2019)