Airport security is essential but it is also one of the major irritants of today’s travel scene

It’s not just security but the need to do identity checks at every stage of the departure process from check-in through security then departure control / immigration and on to the gate for access to the gate lounge area and finally boarding.

Each time you have to fumble for your passport and documentation for each of the checks. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do all the identity checks at one stage and then once each checkpoint knows it is you based on facial recognition you are clear to go.

Well there is one airport that reckons they have the solution through biometric screening and its Sydney Australia that is leading the field in a trial initially with Qantas. They reckon by the end of 2018 they will have the system in full operation.

It is relatively simple how it will work. All the processing will be done at check-in which will be full identity check and biometric facial screening. At this point all the relevant information relating to the passengers PNR will be logged against the biometric facial recognition. This is likely to include all passport information required for immigration plus other key points from lounge entitlement to seating assignment.

This would have to be pretty thorough but once completed it means the passenger’s identity has been thoroughly checked and verified. A biometric photograph is then taken and stored in the data record and it is that photograph – not the passport that becomes the verification of identity for all further checkpoints.

This means the passenger only has to show their passport once as they go through the six stages to get to their seat on board from check-in, baggage drop, immigration, security screening, and lounge access to boarding.

At each point there will be a quick biometric scan and if your face fits you are on to the next stage. The system will be under trial with volunteers before the planned full implementation at the end of the year.

This could be developed even further whereby the complete recognition data is stored for each passenger on the flight and sent on to the destination airport for an equally speedy processing by customs and immigration right down to baggage reclaim.

The one issue I do see will be the reliability of the facial recognition scanners at the various checkpoints. If the failure rate I observe at UK airports where they are used by immigration is anything to go by I reckon the speeding up could end up in a slowing down.

Naturally there are the usual concerns about data protection but it should be a pretty secure system unless you are prepared to go through the face swop operation carried out by John Travolta and Nicholas Cage in the 1997 film “Face Off”.

Anybody want to swap faces with me?