GDRFA Dubai has introduced the ‘Biometric Passenger Journey’ system at Dubai Airports that will allow travellers to walk through the airport touchpoints by just showing their faces without showing their travel documents. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Air travel through Dubai just got safer.

Utilising the latest biometric technology — a mix of facial and iris recognition — passengers can check in for their flight, complete immigration formalities, enter the Emirates lounge and board their flights, simply by strolling through the airport.

The new project by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA)-Dubai called the “Biometric Passenger Journey” will ease travel through Dubai Airports in cooperation with Emirates. The new project has now been launched at Dubai International Airports to create a contact-free travel journey and to cut down on queues in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The new touchpoints, which are now open for Emirates passengers travelling through and from Dubai, let travellers to check in, cross the passport control zone and board flights without coming in contact with the airline staff. The 122 smart gates will allow passengers to walk through between five to nine seconds only based on the passenger’s movement and steps to finish the procedures.

Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director (GDRFA), Dubai, said the new system is a step into the future of travelling. “We are pleased to roll out these new initiatives at Dubai Airports in collaboration with Emirates and our airport stakeholders. The Smart Tunnel was running smoothly, and we are now mobilising the biometric path for seamless journey,” said Maj Gen Al Marri.

“All these initiatives are in line with the government’s vision to be a world leader in innovation and public services. It will ultimately improve the traveller experience at the airport, and enhance the efficiency of our operations.”

Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director (GDRFA), Dubai, during the media tour on Monday introducing the new features. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

3,000 passengers per day using the biometric path

Brigadier Talal Ahmad Al Shanqiti, General Director assistant of Ports Affairs in GDRFA-Dubai, said that the airport witnessed a dramatic increase in travellers as the emirate reopened its doors to tourists since July last year. “We have around 3,000 passengers per day using the biometric system. The smart gates were modified for the seamless journey. Passengers can choose between using the normal way of smart gates by using their Emiratis ID or by showing their faces to the gates,” Brig Al Shanqiti told Gulf News.

He said that any passenger need to register first at the check-in for Emirates where cameras will take the biometric data. Later the passenger can walk through to the aeroplane without showing any travel documents or boarding pass.

Passengers over 17 years can register in the biometric path. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“In Dubai, your passport becomes your face. In seconds, passengers can check-in and walk through the smart gates. You don’t even need to show your boarding pass or passport before stepping into the aircraft,” Brig Al Shanqiti added.

He said that passengers over 17 years can register in the biometric path. “We ask the passengers to remove their masks as arriving to the smart gates to scan their faces. The system was on pilot phase in the last three months with zero mistakes.”

The state-of-the-art system will cut the use of papers as passengers won’t need the boarding pass. “In light of COVID-19, the biometric path will provide a contactless experience while travelling without afraid of touching any surfaces. Just show your face to the gates and you are all set for your flight,” said Brig Al Shanqiti.

How the technology works

- As arriving to Dubai International Airport, passengers need to register at Emirates check-in.

- Facial and iris recognition will register the passenger in the biometric system for the first time.

- After being registered, passenger can walk through the smart gates.

- Passengers need to keep the passport in their pockets, show their faces and look into the green dot at the camera to open the smart gate.

- Passengers can use the same mechanism at the boarding gates without need to show their travel documents.

- Business class passengers can use the smart gates at Emirates business lounge without need to show their boarding pass.