person standing in airport looking at plane

Modular Identity Verification Is the Future of Air Travel

Passenger identity verification is a crucial component of air travel. With over 75% of airlines committed to implementing biometrics for passengers by 2024, it’s clear there is a high level of enthusiasm from the industry. But despite that budgetary commitment, some practical challenges remain that will affect how quickly and effectively identity verification can be implemented.

The Core Challenges for Deploying Identity Verification

There are technological challenges to implementing identity verification in aviation which can easily be solved with a proper understanding of trust chains and the right solutions. Poor matching rates are a common obstacle for facial biometric solutions deployed in airports, for instance, and that can be directly addressed through hardware or software upgrades. Even intimidating privacy concerns can be solved on a technological level through the deployment of privacy-first identity verification that follows established best practices.

But there are resource challenges that serve an even greater threat to an identity verification strategy in aviation, grinding things to a halt before reaching the proverbial runway.

Two particularly onerous challenges are resource drag and long implementation times — both of which are exasperated by the current understaffed, overbooked state of aviation. The air travel sector has a long history of relying on platform-based solutions that require full overhauls of specialized hardware, temporarily shutting down security lanes or even closing entire terminals. The intensive labor required — not to mention time and cost — creates a drain on resources, further straining daily operations and delaying much-needed ROI.

Thankfully, an alternative approach is possible.

Modular Passenger Identity Verification

One size of identity solution does not fit all air travel scenarios. By breaking down the various components used for identity verification throughout a passenger journey, we can see that a targeted approach to implementation is not only possible, but also highly advantageous.

There are several components that work together to enable a seamless passenger journey via identity verification:

  • Facial biometric cameras improve the image fidelity of facial images used to match passengers to their trust anchors
  • ID document and ticket readers enable easy-to-use, self-service passport and ID reading that can validate identity documents and detect forgeries
  • Software development kits (SDKs) allow for identity verification to be added into existing applications, enhancing booking, check-in and other mobile procedures
  • ID proofing servers validate IDs and match them to submitted selfies to create digital ID tokens — this is integral to establishing a trust anchor
  • Biometric servers deliver full facial matching, 1:1 verification and 1:N identification on-premises or in the cloud
  • Device management solutions provide remote monitoring to manage the provisioning, software updates and security of identity devices
  • Services ensure that specialized identity verification technology is being implemented according to best practices, providing the best ROI while remaining up-to-date and privacy-first

Depending on an airport’s or airline’s priorities and resources, any single component or a combination of the modular technologies would be enough to start improving passenger journeys immediately.

Facial Recognition Camera Hardware Fingerprint Readers ID Document & Ticket Readers Software Development Kits ID Proofing Server Biometric Server Biometric Professional Services Device Management

Modular Identity Verification in Practice

Take the example of boarding. Many airlines leverage QR code-based mobile boarding passes, checking them at the gate with a passenger’s passport. This process is no more convenient than using a traditional printed boarding pass. But upgrading to an identity verification-driven experience does not require a full platform upgrade.

An airline wishing to automate and expedite boarding simply needs a biometric SDK to enable identity verification on their app and a facial recognition camera at the gate. With those two investments, the cumbersome boarding process is vastly simplified. A passenger links their face to their passport and boarding pass, creating a trust anchor using the enhanced app. When it is time to board, they approach the facial biometric camera at the gate. The camera instantly matches their face to their established trust anchor and allows them to board the plane without having to present any documents for further inspection.

Upgrading Air Travel, One Step at a Time

Beyond the initial targeted upgrades like the example above, a modular approach to identity verification allows stakeholders to plan their digital transformation roadmaps according to their own needs and goals. Long lines at customs can be resolved with more intuitive automated document scanners, while crowded retail spaces can be addressed by implementing facial biometric payment options. The modular paradigm allows aviation stakeholders to be smart with their resource allocation, identifying the passenger touchpoints that need the most improvement and starting there.

It’s fast and flexible, customizable and cost-effective. Implementing identity verification modules avoids the need to rip and replace legacy solutions that are still delivering ROI, while accelerating the path to better operations, safer airports and premium passenger experiences.

Start planning your modular identity verification roadmap today.

Learn more about the passenger journey and how modular identity verification will transform the travel experience today. Download HID’s latest eBook: Elevating the Passenger Journey With Biometrics and Identity Verification.

Interested in learning more about identity and the future of air travel? Be sure to read the other blogs in this series:

Imagining the Elevated Passenger Journey envisions seamless air travel enabled by identity verification technologies.

The Travel Experience Is Broken — Biometrics and Identity Verification Can Save the Day demonstrates how the most pressing challenges facing the air travel passenger experience can be addressed by biometrics and digital ID.

Anchoring Trust in Air Passenger Journeys teaches you everything you need to know about creating trust chains and trust anchors in air travel.