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Boarding Passes and Claim Tickets Soon to Become Obsolete?

Boarding Passes and Claim Tickets Soon to Become Obsolete?
Jeff Edwards

Star Alliance and NEC Corporation have formed a partnership with the intent of developing a linked biometric data-based identification system at airports around the globe. The historic deal could potentially mean completely paperless air travel for most members of the world’s largest airline alliance.

Star Alliance members who opt into the network’s proposed bio-metric identification system may soon discover that boarding passes, bag-claim tickets, identification and even today’s airline mobile apps will no longer be essential items at the airport. The airline alliance has announced a deal with NEC to develop facial recognition technologies to make most of the documents (both paper and electronic) now required for air travel, soon entirely obsolete for most passengers.

“NEC is pleased to join forces with Star Alliance to bring an improved cross terminal customer experience,” NEC Corporation CEO Takashi Niino said in a statement announcing the partnership. “Facial recognition is truly revolutionizing the airline industry and making flying more enjoyable, just as it was always intended. In support of this partnership, similar to our implementations in United States, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, NEC will mobilize its global resources and provide local assistance to each of the member airlines to leverage this secure, interoperable platform and rapidly bring our common vision to reality.”

While biometric identification, including facial recognition, has been in place at many airports for several years, this newest deal could easily result in the creation of the largest airport-based biometric data platform in use at airports to date. The Star Alliance boasts more frequent flyers among its ranks than any other single airline loyalty alliance in existence.

“In NEC, we have found a strong partner who shares our vision of a seamless travel experience for air travelers,” Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh explained. “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.”

Star Alliance officials stress that passengers’ biometric data will only be collected if the members opt into the system. The network says that the system will be designed to comply with privacy and security rules in every jurisdiction in which Star Alliance operates. Plans call for the system to roll out in at least one hub airport by the close of next year.


[Featured Image: iStock]

View Comments (12)


  1. tsw22

    August 3, 2019 at 8:31 am

    Sure, what could possibly go wrong?

  2. dracjimm


    August 3, 2019 at 9:09 am

    Sure, lets trust United and the other Star Alliance airlines with another piece of personal data they promise to keep secure on their systems. After all, they have highly secure and uncrackable “2-factor” multiple-choice questions like “As a kid what did you want to become when you grew up”.

    Besides, even in the event these biometrics get hacked and stolen, what’s the big deal? We can just replace our fingerprints and faces with new ones.

  3. htb

    August 3, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    Paperless travel. Sure. And then, when you have a compensation claim, the airline’s service center will continue for years to insist on boarding passes.
    Also, vi really don’t believe that the key to making air travel more enjoyable lies in removing to scan my boarding pass once or twice. The reason why air travel is horrendous is because of TSA and the on-board experience.

  4. am1108

    August 3, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    Although it probably is more convenient, it will be sad for those of us who like to collect boarding passes & bag tags… I’m used to filing each of my trips (boarding pass, receipts, brochures, etc.) into a binder pocket sleeve… Now I know that is going to take some time to go paperless, but somehow will make each trip less memorable if it’s required.

  5. Kannai

    August 5, 2019 at 4:00 am

    At least in the short term, they’ll have to leave a boarding pass option. Many people who travel for business need boarding passes for reimbursement.

  6. FlyingNone

    August 5, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    What happens when the “system” goes down or someone doesn’t “register” properly…..thousands just stand around looking at one another while they come up with a (no) solution ? Wouldn’t airlines and big businesses just love it when finally there is absolutely no human interaction or thought process to anything – what could possibly go wrong ?

  7. FlyingNone

    August 5, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    Soon airports will become like those phone menus – Walk to a kiosk and press 1 to enter the building, next kiosk press 2 to check in and choose your seat, next kiosk press 3 to clear security or press 4 to wait for a person (who knows how long if there is a security problem). Next kiosk press 5 to continue to your gate after security clearance. Next kiosk press 6 to verify your gate. Next kiosk press 7 to stand at gate until a big green light opens a door to walk onto the airplane – next kiosk press 8 to actually walk down the jet bridge. Crazy but we just might be dealing with Artificial Intelligence “fake” robots/kiosks who will only be programmed to hear and react to certain words; anything else will be met by a repetitive request and you will be missing your flight/connection if your words don’t match, etc…..No ability to press “0” or “00”; no humans !!!.yeah, I can’t wait.

  8. RandyN

    August 6, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    I’m in! The fewer things I have to keep track of the better.

    Where do I sign up to get the embedded chip that stores my driver’s license, credit cards, insurance info and passport?

  9. sdsearch

    August 6, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    I don’t see how this would work for PreCheck travelers. At many airports, there’s a human with nothing than their eyes to look at your boarding pass (printed or mobile) to decide whether to let you into the PreCheck lane. And these humans are not employees of the Star Alliance airline, at least not at airports where a PreCheck lane is shared by multiple airlines, so who’s going to set them up with face scanners? So aren’t you still going to need a visible boarding pass for that?

    Plus, it’s going to be a lot of work to outfit every desk where boarding passes are asked for (lounge entrances, customer service desks, etc) so that they can all scan your face if you don’t have a boarding pass.

    So while boarding passes may not be needed at SOME places in the airport, I think it’s overboard to jump from that to calling them “soon to become obsolete”.

  10. KRSW

    August 7, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    DO NOT WANT. Not because of the tin-foil hat ideas of how the information might be misused, rather, what happens when the system s**ts the bed and you’ve got nothing. I still print paper boarding passes and have them in my carry-on, even if I’m using the phone app for everything.

  11. dereiziger

    August 12, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    I’ve tried facial recognition at 3 airports and never works for me. Partly because in my passport photo I have no facial hair and currently i have facial hair. I always seems up getting rejected by the system and still need to be screened by a human entity.

  12. Grog

    August 13, 2019 at 3:28 am


    Lufthansa’s IT is world-famous for its innovative ideas…and dysfunctional execution. And if we’re talking Star Alliance, we’re talking Lufthansa being behind it.

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