How Lufthansa is enabling the adoption of biometrics at various touchpoints and airports of all sizes

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Lufthansa first invested in biometrics in 2018, when it launched a one-step biometric boarding process using facial recognition technology at Los Angeles International Airport.

The Lufthansa Group was one of the early adopters of biometrics in the aviation industry, resulting in widespread use of the technology at airports around the world. The airline’s first investment in biometrics dates back to 2018, when it launched a one-step biometric boarding process using facial recognition at Los Angeles International Airport. Today, the carrier implemented its seamless boarding process at eight airports across the United States.

“We are one of the first airline groups in the world to start investing in biometrics and we haven’t looked back since,” enthuses Patrick Sgueglia, product manager, Regulatory Services & Biometrics, Lufthansa, in a statement. interview with FTE before its participation in the FTE Global Biometrics & Digital Identity Summit, which will be held from December 7 to 9 in Las Vegas.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Sgueglia insists that biometrics remained high on Lufthansa’s agenda and that the need for the technology was only accelerated during the crisis. “Our passengers expect contactless service and that is the magic of biometrics. We hope that as passengers return to travel, biometrics will be the new normal for them. “

Technology has improved considerably in recent years, but the requirement to wear face coverings in the airport terminal has raised new challenges for providers. However, new algorithms are currently under development to ensure that passengers can complete airport checks without removing their masks.

“We are working extensively with our IT partners and biometric providers like Amadeus, SITA, Vision-Box, NEC, Idemia and others, who are adapting their algorithms to be able to match a person’s face even with a mask. This is a testament to how far technology has come, that we are able to incorporate that mask requirement that we did not expect before COVID-19. “

Star Alliance biometric identification platform

Lufthansa group airlines, Lufthansa and SWISS, were the first to launch a new interoperable biometric identification platform developed by Star Alliance in November 2020.

Recognizing the renewed emphasis on health and safety and the need to create a contactless experience in the airport environment, the airlines of the Lufthansa Group, Lufthansa and SWISS, have become the first to launch a new platform of interoperable biometric identification developed by Star Alliance in November 2020.

The platform debuted at Frankfurt and Munich airports for people enrolled in the company’s Miles & More Frequent Flyer program, who have the option of opting for Star Alliance biometrics for certain Lufthansa and SWISS flights. Passengers can register using the Lufthansa or Star Alliance apps to take a selfie and scan their passports. At the airport, they can then go through checkpoints and board the plane using facial recognition technology.

Since launch, the platform has been very successful with passengers, Sgueglia shares. “We already have 20,000 registrations and we receive constant feedback from passengers on the speed of the process. We will be expanding the platform to multiple touchpoints, and from November 2021 our sister airline Austrian Airlines will also join the program. “

In addition, Lufthansa places a strong emphasis on data security. Sgueglia points out that personal data, such as photos and other identifying information, is encrypted and stored securely on the platform, in full compliance with European Union data protection legislation.

“Investing in biometrics improves costs and revenues”

Patrick Sgueglia, Product Manager, Regulatory Services & Biometrics, Lufthansa: “Over the past three to four years biometrics has progressed in leaps and bounds, and I’m delighted to see where we are going next.

Biometric technology has grown in popularity dramatically over the past few years, offering a plethora of benefits to airline players and passengers. The potential of the technology to create a more secure, transparent and contactless passenger experience, along with its convenience and scalability, certainly makes it an attractive investment.

But despite these advantages, the technology can be an expensive solution for airports, which focus primarily on reducing costs and cannot afford to invest in physical infrastructure.

“When it comes to costs, a lot of people ask me if the investment is worth it,” Sgueglia told FTE. “Ultimately, investing in biometrics will lead to improved costs and revenues. Our airport partners often tell us that when boarding times or security times are reduced, it allows passengers to spend that time in the commercial areas of the airport. So by looking at the entire customer journey, when you add biometrics to different touchpoints, it brings benefits for airports and airlines across the board.

In some places, Lufthansa has also adopted stand-alone biometric cameras, proving that it is possible to use the technology even at small airports, which might face greater capacity constraints.

“We are proud to serve many of the largest hub airports in the world, but biometric technology is not limited to these large airports. All smaller and medium airports can invest in technology. This primarily means less investment in infrastructure, and Lufthansa is willing to work with our partners in small and medium-sized airports to achieve this seamless customer experience in one step. “

He adds: “For example, we started a project with SITA at Boston Logan International Airport, where we offered biometric boarding directly from our Lufthansa lounge, but due to infrastructure requirements, we didn’t have it. ‘space to put an e-portal. So this was the first place where we used a standalone camera to offer direct boarding from the lounge. It was a great test to see the overall passenger acceptance and how it will work without having a door. The Boston airport case was such a success that we immediately transferred her to the San Francisco airport. But even though San Francisco Airport is one of the biggest airport hubs, they also chose not to invest in electronic gates. So we actually only have four stand-alone cameras in our boarding gates at the airport. The cameras have a “stop light system” that we have programmed with SITA and which guides people through the process. “

Going forward, Lufthansa plans to continue the gradual deployment of biometrics with additional contact points at its Frankfurt hub and other airports around the world. For Sgueglia, further exploring the use of biometrics is an ongoing ambition. “Over the past three to four years, technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, and I’m excited to see where we’re going next. I am joining the Biometrics Summit at FTE Global to publicize all of Lufthansa’s exciting initiatives, but also to hear from our colleagues, especially TSA and US CBP, as well as our many IT partners, on what is to come and what other benefits we can bring to passengers.

The FTE Biometrics & Digital Identity Summit, sponsored by NEC, will take place at the upcoming FTE Global in-person show from December 7-9 in Las Vegas. This dedicated session will bring together industry leaders from Lufthansa, Delta Air Lines, TSA, US CBP, APEX, Star Alliance, NEC, SITA, Mastercard and many other pioneers in this space, who will lead the conversation on how we can successfully combine all the necessary elements to facilitate and scale up new digital identity and biometric efforts on a global scale. Additionally, the session will be complemented by a CBP workshop, during which experts from CBP, TSA and guest speakers will lead in-depth technical sessions in an interactive environment on the best approaches to deploy a biometric program, and more. Find mote here.


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