Sydney Airport and Qantas to trial facial recognition tech
05 July 2018 16:46 GMT

Qantas passengers on selected international flights are taking part in a groundbreaking trial of facial recognition programming at Sydney Airport.

The new biometrics technology will allow travellers to pass through most stages of the airport experience without a passport or boarding pass.

Instead, their faces will be scanned as they make their way through the automated check-in, baggage drop, lounge access and boarding stages. They will only need to present their documents at immigration.

In the future, the “couch-to-boarding gate” technology will be expanded to include mobile check-in and automated border processing. Essentially, we will eventually be able to kiss our traditional passports goodbye forever.

Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said the world-leading system will improve the way we travel, making the airport experience faster and easier. But at what cost?

“We’re very excited that select Qantas passengers now have the chance to experience this highly sophisticated technology as part of this landmark trial,” Mr Culbert said.

“In the future, there will be no more juggling passports and bags at check-in and digging through pockets or smartphones to show your boarding pass — your face will be your passport and your boarding pass at every step of the process.”

The new technology will allow passengers to be tracked through the terminal.

[There are some concerns over privacy and hacking. Picture: Sydney Airport]

There are some concerns over privacy and hacking. Picture: Sydney AirportSource:Supplied

Qantas chief customer officer Vanessa Hudson said the airline was focused on increasing the use of technology to drive innovation for customers.

“There is an increasing need for airlines and airports to offer faster and more convenient airport experiences and we’re excited to see what results the trial produces,” Ms Hudson said.

“Qantas customers will not only be able to check in for their flight using the technology, it is also available for our lounge staff who can create a more personalised experience when passengers arrive.”

The airport system was announced last year along with a raft of new counter-terror measures, and was met with criticism around privacy and hacking fears. State premiers signalled their support for the measures, declaring that public safety was more important than civil liberties.

“Notional considerations of civil liberties do not trump the very real threat, the very real threat of terror in our country today,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said at the time.

“We are going to have to curtail the rights and freedoms of a small number of people in order to keep the vast majority of Australians safe.”

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