Star Alliance has announced plans to develop a biometric data-based identification platform “that will significantly improve the travel experience for frequent flyer programme customers of Star Alliance member airline”.

The alliance will partner with IT, network and biometric technologies firm NEC Corporation, allowing customers 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”.

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

Star Alliance – which recently expanded its growing Connection Service at Heathrow – says that travellers will go through a one-off enrolment process, 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”.

Aside from improving customers’ journeys through the airport, the alliance says that the technology will help participating airports and member carriers “to increase operational efficiency”.

The alliance stresses that personal data such as photographs and other identification details will be “encrypted and safely stored within the platform”, and only used “with the consent of the passenger”.

Commenting on the news Jeffrey Goh, CEO of Star Alliance said:

“In NEC, we have found a strong partner who shares our 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.”

Last year Delta launched an end-to-end biometric terminal at Atlanta airport, and Heathrow is spending £50 million expanding its biometric capabilities.

For our recent look at how biometric technology will impact air travel, see:

Airport biometrics: Face of the future