Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 November 2019

Document-free travel for Dubai airport passengers coming soon

Biometric technology aims to reduce the amount of time spent at immigration desks

Dubai airport's security tunnel on display at Gitex in 2017. The tunnel will be equipped with about 80 cameras that will scan faces while they’re in motion and clear them for security. Satish Kumar for The National
Dubai airport's security tunnel on display at Gitex in 2017. The tunnel will be equipped with about 80 cameras that will scan faces while they’re in motion and clear them for security. Satish Kumar for The National

Passengers traveling through Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport will soon be able to travel document-free.

To improve the passenger journey experience, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs said it will introduce biometric technology to reduce time spent transitioning through both arrival and departure gates.

In September, Emirates, which operates from Terminal 3, became the first airline outside the US to use biometric technology approved by immigration authorities.

Using a mix of facial and iris recognition, passengers were able to check in for their flight, enter the Emirates Lounge and board flights, simply by strolling through the airport.

On Sunday, Fatma Al Mazrouei, head of smart project support at GDRFA told The National the authority is planning to roll out the technology at the immigration check point too.

“We constantly strive to improve the customer experience and once this full biometric system is introduced it will make the airport journey even more convenient and fast,” she said.

The GDRFA presented the first demo experience of the full biometric journey, which will take passengers right through from check-in to flight boarding without the need to show official identification such as passport or national ID cards, at Gitex Technology Week in Dubai.

“Once the biometric information is captured, passengers will be verified at the different check points through facial and iris recognition,” Ms Al Mazrouei said.

Expected to be rolled out across Terminal 3 in the “next few months”, she said those living outside the country can use the service too.

“Tourists who qualify for visa-on-arrival, UAE residents and citizens can all use the service, they just need to register their biometrics which is something we are doing for Gitex visitors this week.

“We are actually working to automatically register eligible tourists-on-arrival too, to cut down on queues at immigration.”

Dubai International airport has already taken steps to incorporate future technology, having rolled out a Smart Tunnel that allows selected travellers to use biometrics to complete passport control in 15 seconds or less.

But with this new system in place, the journey will be reduced to “just a few seconds”, Ms Al Mazrouei said.

“It is just part of the normal airport walk through so it is very quick and efficient,” she said.

Travellers are open to providing biometric data to help reduce waiting times in airport security lines, according to a survey by travel commerce platform Travelport.

A 2018 Global Digital Traveller Research survey, which questioned over 16,200 people about the role technology plays for them in travel plans, showed the majority of travellers would happily share bio-metric data to avoid lengthy immigration queues.

Updated: October 7, 2019 04:35 PM

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