Soon Biometrics Not ID Cards to let you in at Airports

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The Government of India has begun work on ensuring a completely paperless aircraft boarding process under which a mobile phone is all that will be required to board domestic flights in India.

The aviation ministry is linking the databases of airlines and airports with passenger IDs such as Aadhaar and passport numbers for this.

Once this happens, says aviation secretary R N Choubey, passengers will be able to use biometrics to prove identity before entering terminals and will not have to show ID cards. A flight ticket or eticket will not be needed either as the airline database will show the details of the flight they are booked on.

The linked airport databases will show if the passenger has been through checkin and security check gates before being allowed access to the boarding gate closer to flight departure time.

“We have set up a special unit in Airports Authority of India for giving shape to this ‘digi yatra’ programme. Airport operators, especially from Bangalore and Hyderabad, are part of this as they have done a lot of work in this field. We will soon know the indicative cost of the project and time frame in which it can be implemented,” said Choubey. International flyers, however, will need passports to travel.

Airport officials said the linked database will allow access to the boarding gate only closer to the flight departure time and would cut crowding by ‘anxious’ passengers who turn up at boarding gates much before they would actually be allowed inside aircraft.

“Airlines will also be able to know the last level the missing flyer was at in case he does not report for boarding in time,” Choubey said. Passengers giving biometrics at each stage of airport process will help do away with the current practice of stamping “security checked” on physical boarding cards.

This is presently done to ensure that only passengers who have cleared security checks board planes.

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and Central Industrial Security Force have already stopped stamping of handbag tags at 17 airports and will begin trial runs at 10 more airports, including Pune and Ranchi.

The government is trying to increasingly use the technology to offer a seamless boarding experience and bring down the cost of security personnel deployment, an official said.

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