Investing in aviation’s identity-first future

by | Sep 8, 2023 | Airlines, Airports, Digital Transformation, News, Travel Tech

The most crucial identity industries, defined by FindBiometrics and Acuity Market Intelligence are: financial services, government services, healthcare, hospitality, and travel. These foundational sectors rely on a complex, rapidly evolving ecosystem that spans big tech, web3, authentication, identity verification, targeted biometric solutions, biometric identity platforms, core biometric technologies, and identity platforms. This ecosystem is envisioned in the Biometric Digital Identity Prism, a proprietary visualization describing the current digital identity landscape as it relates to the aforementioned industries.



The aviation industry is evolving quickly as flight volumes return to pre-pandemic levels. With over 4.1 billion travelers expected to fly in 2023, airports and airlines are being put to the test as passenger demand meets the reality of operational challenges. Digitization technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics are being looked at to ease the burden in coordination with identity automation.

Aviation is a unique sector in the context of the Prism. The needs of airports, airlines, government travel and border agencies are interrelated and cannot be served by discrete, siloed solutions. From booking to arrival at a destination, passenger identity must remain consistently trusted and secure throughout the journey, not just for the best possible customer experience, but for the sake of security and operational efficiencies. While identity platforms are well suited for this sector, companies in the Prism’s ”Big 3” segment best serve the complexity of the passenger identity lifecycle.


Passenger demands shape the future of aviation

The passenger experience is the catalyst for evolution in the aviation sector. Today’s passenger is a technology-literate traveler who expects a mobile-first experience and is not accustomed to delays. Operational struggles experienced by airlines and airports in 2022—from misplaced baggage to significant delays and cancellations—have marred the travel experience in mainstream and social media. Thankfully, enhancing the customer experience by reducing friction within the passenger journey has the effect of improving operations through streamlined throughput, automation, and enhanced security.

Following the passenger journey, one sees a map of identity transactions: booking, check-in, bag check, security, boarding, flight, customs, and baggage pickup. And that’s not including the retail and service transactions along the way. Every time a passenger interacts with an airline, agency, retailer, or other stakeholder during their travel journey, they must prove who they are. The easier that is, the less friction and stress they experience.

According to SITA—the world’s leading aviation IT services provider with deployments in over 200 countries—the most pressing pain points for passengers are the touchpoints with the most friction: health checks, security screening, and bag collection. Invasive, time-consuming, and out of the passenger’s control, these three processes are in opposition to on-demand services. Thankfully, they are also the areas seeing the highest levels of innovation, and therefore the greatest rate of improvement.

Following passenger demand, we see the evolution of aviation trending toward frictionless, identity-first gateways that leverage consumer mobile technology and robust IT infrastructure to allow for fast and reliable identity checks at every touchpoint. By the end of the decade, the travel experience will allow travelers to enroll their biometrics and identity data when they book a trip on their phone, check-in and drop-off their bag in a fully automated fashion, speed through security without invasive measures, purchase food, retail items and airport amenities with their face or their phone, and board their plane in record time without having to dig through their belongings for their physical ID.

And while that’s all great for the customer, it’s even better for the airlines and airports…


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Article by NEC