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New Star Alliance advance makes your face your passport

July 30, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Star Alliance has announced a big advance in biometrics, to let travellers pass through critical points within airports, such as check-in kiosks, bag-drop, lounges, and boarding gates, using just their face as their passport.

Star has signed a pact with NEC Corporation, which specialises in IT, network and biometric technologies, to develop the new system and begin rolling it out early next year. The biometric data-based identification platform will “significantly improve the travel experience for frequent flyer program customers of Star Alliance member airlines”.

The aim is to give customers a seamless journey, while strengthening the important loyalty aspect.

Once implemented, customers who opt-in to biometrics will gain 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”, a Star Alliance statement said.

The platform will also help airports and Star Alliance member airlines boost operational efficiency.

The service will be available to customers who are enrolled in one of the Star Alliance frequent flyer programs and who have authorised the use of their biometric data.

Masakazu Yamashina (left), executive vice president NEC Corporation and Jeffrey Goh, chief executive Star Alliance

How does it work?

With a few easy steps on their mobile device, customers will have the option to enrol in the new platform using industry-leading security technology. 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.

Personal data, such as photo and other identification details, are 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. Personal data will only be processed with the consent of the passenger. Passengers may be required to show their passport during security and immigration procedures.

Star Alliance chief executive, Jeffrey Goh, said NEC was a strong partner who shared the Star Alliance vision of a seamless travel experience for air travellers.

“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,” Goh said.

NEC Corporation president and chief executive, Takashi Niino, added that NEC was pleased to join forces with Star Alliance to bring an improved cross-terminal customer experience.


“Facial recognition is truly revolutionising the airline industry and making flying more enjoyable, just as it was always intended,” Niino said

“In support of this partnership, similar to our implementations in United States, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, NEC will mobilise its global resources and provide local assistance to each of the member airlines to leverage this secure, interoperable platform and rapidly bring our common vision to reality.”

Star Alliance and NEC aim to bring the new tech to a Star Alliance airport hub by the first quarter of 2020.

Edited by Peter Needham

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