‘Your face will be your passport:’ Qantas passengers start using biometrics

  • Qantas is acting as the launch partner for the trial, with passengers on select international flights taking part.
  • Sydney Airport's CEO claims that in the future, a passenger's face will act as their passport and boarding pass.
Boeing746 | iStock Editorial | Getty Images 

A number of Qantas passengers have started to use facial recognition technology at Sydney Airport.

When fully tested, the system will enable passengers to complete most parts of their trip using their face as their “access identification,” the airport said in a statement Thursday.

Qantas is acting as the launch partner for the trial, with passengers on select international flights taking part.

The first phase will see four “key steps” of a passenger’s journey tested: automated check-in, bag drop, lounge access and boarding. Mobile-check in and automated border processing could be used in future trials.

“We’ve worked with Qantas from the outset and are delighted to be partnering with them as we trial this technology,” the CEO of Sydney Airport, Geoff 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,” he added. “Your face will be your passport and your boarding pass at every step of the process.”

Sydney Airport is a major international hub, with 43 million passengers passing through it annually. The airport said that the consent of all passengers taking part in the trial would be “actively sought” and that it would adhere to the strictest privacy standards and comply with all “relevant legislation.”

Vanessa Hudson, Qantas’ chief customer officer, said there was “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.”

“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 personalized experience when passengers arrive.”

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.