Survey: Air Passengers Want to Use Biometrics to Speed up Processes at Airports

Air passengers want to use biometric identification to speed up travel processes, according to a new survey released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“Passengers have spoken and want technology to work harder, so they spend less time ‘being processed’ or standing in queues. And they are willing to use biometric data if it delivers this result,” said IATA Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security Nick Careen.

Biometric Identification

IATA’s 2021 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) found that 73 percent of passengers are willing to share their biometric data to improve airport processes (up from 46 percent in 2019).

Meanwhile, 88 percent would share immigration information prior to departure for expedited processing.

Just over a third of passengers (36 percent) have experienced the use of biometric data when traveling. Of these, 86 percent were satisfied with the experience.

Data protection remains a key issue with 56 percent indicating concern about data breaches. And passengers want clarity on who their data is being shared with (52 percent) and how it is used/processed (51 percent).

The GPS is based on 13,579 responses from 186 countries.


With additional document checks for Covid-19, processing time at airports is taking longer.

Pre-Covid-19, the average passengers spent 1.5 hours in travel processes (check-in, security, border control, customs, and baggage claim).

Current data indicates that airport processing times have ballooned to 3 hours during peak time with travel volumes at only about 30 percent of pre-Covid-19 levels.

The greatest increases are at check-in and border control (emigration and immigration) where travel health credentials are being checked mainly as paper documents. This exceeds the time that passengers want to spend on processes at the airport.

The 2021 Global Passenger Survey found that:

· 55 percent of passengers identified queuing at boarding as a top area for improvement

· 41 percent of passengers identified queuing at security screening as a top priority for improvement

· 38 percent of passenger identified queuing time at border control / immigration as a top area for improvement.


· 85 percent of passengers want to spend less than 45 mins on processes at the airport if they are traveling with only hand luggage

· 90 percent of passengers want to spend less than one hour on processes at the airport when traveling with a checked bag.

Working with industry stakeholders, IATA has two mature programs which can support a successful ramping-up of aviation post-pandemic and provide travelers with the expedited experience they are demanding:

· The IATA Travel Pass, an app offering a safe and secure way for travelers to check the requirements for their journey, receive test results and scan their vaccine certificates, verify that these meet the destination and transit requirements, and share these effortlessly with health officials and airlines prior to departure.

· One ID, an initiative that is helping transition industry towards a day when passengers can move from curb to gate using a single biometric travel token such as a face, fingerprint or iris scan.

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