Passengers could be using iris recognition to check in for their flights within two years following the world’s first successful trial of the technology at Gatwick Airport.
The initiative could cut up to half the time needed to get from the check-in to boarding the aircraft.
While a saving of around two minutes a person appears minimal, with Gatwick handling 55,000 passengers a day the changes could have a dramatic impact on how the airport operates.
Traditionally passengers arrive at the airport, drop off their bag and have to present their boarding card or inspection twice before getting on board the plane – once at security and again at the boarding gate.
In addition passengers also have to show their passport at the boarding gate to verify their identity, which is compared against the boarding pass.
The new system, which was tested for three months earlier this year. entails a passenger having a photograph taken of their iris when they check in luggage which is linked to the boarding pass.
Anyone travelling with only hand luggage is photographed as they go through security.
This information is stored and means the passenger’s identity is verified by the image of their iris as they pass through the airport.
At the boarding gate alone, this was found to save at least 15 seconds a person, saving potentially 15-20 minutes for loading an aircraft.
It is hoped this will enable Gatwick to handle more flights because of reduced time needed to keep a plane on the stand.
While iris recognition has been shelved for international flights at Gatwick, it is still in place for domestic flights.
This is to prevent illegal immigrants, who have just flown into Britain, trying to sidestep border controls by swapping boarding passes in the departure lounge with somebody who is already in the country as passports are not inspected on domestic flights.
Gatwick is in discussion with airlines over rolling out the technology across the airport as a whole over the next two years.