Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport launches facial recognition trial

Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport launches facial recognition trial

Aena, together with Vueling and the group of technology companies formed by Easier, IDEMIA, Indra, Materna-ips and Mobbeel, has launched a pilot boarding test through facial recognition at the Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport. It is the first time that it has been carried out in Europe integrating in a single process all the steps to be carried out by a passenger at an airport, including the check-in of the suitcase as a novelty. The objective is that passengers can make the entire route to the plane without having to show identification documentation.

Based on an identification technology through the recognition of the physical and non-transferable characteristics of people, the biometric systems equipment has been located in the check-in area, allowing self-check-in luggage; at the access to the security filter and at the boarding gate, where the biometric data of the passenger, their facial features (image of their face) and documentation (ID or passport) will be validated. This makes it possible to streamline the process and increase security from the moment the traveler registers online at home until he catches his flight. The validation of documentation with biometric data is carried out only once during the pilot, provided that the passenger gives his consent for subsequent flights.

Currently Aena is the sole owner of the biometric database and, therefore, responsible for its management, and the information obtained is treated in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPD) established in European Regulation 2016/679 regarding treatment of personal data and the free circulation of said data.

Joint project of Vueling and Aena

This collaboration project between Vueling and Aena began several months ago with airline passengers on the Barcelona-Malaga route. This is the most complete pilot test being carried out at an Aena airport, as it includes biometric technology in 4 travel processes: check-in, baggage check-in, security filter and boarding.  

In order to access the plane “by the face”, the passenger must access the Aena app, enter the “facial recognition” section and complete the form. The registration can also be carried out physically at the Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport in two kiosks located in front of gate B35 and in the Vueling self-check-in area. 

Thus, passengers will be able to exclusively access both the security control filters and the boarding gate on the Barcelona-Malaga route and enjoy more agile access. In addition, they will have the option of leaving their suitcase at the agentless self-check-in belt (self bag drop), simply with facial recognition. 

Passengers can take part in this pilot program on a voluntary basis and travel in a more agile, efficient and contactless way. 

The Director of Innovation, Sustainability and Customer Experience and CGO of Aena , Amparo Brea, has pointed out that “this project, framed in Aena’s Strategic Innovation Plan, is the last step in a set of actions led by the company since the beginning of 2019 and aimed at testing the use of biometric systems at different points of the airport. We are convinced that this technology will significantly improve the passenger experience at our airports and these projects allow us to advance in its deployment. We provide passengers with tools that allow them to carry out part of the documentation checks that are currently being carried out in airport procedures, so that their passage through the airport is safer, more fluid and more comfortable ”.

According to Calum Laming, Vueling Chief Customer Officer , “being able to offer such a complete biometric experience confirms our desire to improve the experience of our customers at the airport, and also favors a much more agile and modern flow of customers. This is a project with a high technological component, a key element in Vueling Transform and in our digitization strategy to improve service and so that customers can manage their travel experience with greater autonomy and flexibility ”. In this way, Vueling has become the first airline in Europe to offer a complete contactless travel experience thanks to the use of biometric technology.

On the other hand, the companies in charge of developing, supplying and installing the necessary equipment to carry out the test have used automated systems that include advanced biometric and document validation technologies, which optimize performance in passenger access time. 

Indra  has been commissioned in this pilot of the platform that allows integrating the equipment and different systems that make up the solution. Thanks to it, it is possible to guarantee the collection of identification and biometric data at the enrollment kiosk and CUSS, filter and boarding gates for their treatment and integration with Aena systems, ensuring the perfect functioning of the complete solution. 

The biometric system of self-check-in luggage (Self Bag Drop) of  Materna IPS  takes an image of the passenger and contrasts it in real time against the database of those enrolled in the biometric program. In this way, it is able to identify if that passenger is part of the program, allowing at that moment that it can proceed to check in its luggage by itself. Maternal IPS biometrics . 

Easier  has integrated biometric devices and their middleware for enrollment and verification at each control point by supplying dual equipment (common self-service kiosk and biometric registration in the same device), as well as electronic gates with detection of uniqueness of more accurate passengers from entering the security zone to boarding. 

For its part,  IDEMIA will  provide high-quality facial image capture at the registration kiosks, the electronic access gate to the air area and the electronic boarding gate. The identification of passengers will be carried out using IDEMIA’s biometric engine, recognized in the market as one of the best for its high precision.  

Mobbeel  provides the mobile application that allows travelers to enroll their biometrics and verify their identity through the scanning of a DNI or passport with NFC and a  selfie  with proof of life to verify that that person is who they say they are. Pioneers in mobile biometrics, the company has been offering digital identity verification solutions for more than 12 years.