Last year we wrote about the plans that Bangalore airport had for becoming totally biometric-enabled. This would have meant the use of the Aadhar card to use your fingerprints across the various stages of security and boarding, rather than the conventional boarding pass. Then, they had already started to trial Aadhar based access to the airport.
Now, Bangalore is moving forward with making this happen, not just as a trial but as an implementation. The implementation, needless to say, is based on pairing your ticket booking with Aadhar number during the time of booking or check-in. I would believe that collecting Aadhar number, even on an opt-in basis, would become a standard going forward for Indian carriers.
Bangalore will intend to introduce an Aadhar-enabled entry and Biometric Boarding System, also be adding an e-boarding gate system alongside. The RFP for this system has been released last week, and the intention is to launch with Jet Airways, Air Asia and SpiceJet by next March to start. Here is a look at the entire project plan.
The plan, like you would see, is to start with the 3 airlines above, then go forward with all domestic carriers by October 2018. In the end, add biometric access for all international airlines as well. Of course, a passport will still be required.
There are merits in doing this implementation. Right now, we spend too much time first waiting at the airport gate to get access. Then at the check-in counter to obtain our boarding pass. Then at the airport boarding gate to scan in and board the flight. Additionally, the system inside the airport works on trust, just as it does globally. In the sense, if you are here, you must have had a valid ticket. But if you are going to the destination you booked your ticket for, we don’t know. Now, they add another layer.
The system envisages to get you from (entry) gate to (boarding) gate within 10 minutes, cutting down the time cost of each validation at a checkpoint to 5 seconds and crunching the total screening process down from 25 minutes at the moment.
While I do not foresee this to move as fast as projected, given this will be the first time a biometric system will be in place and a lot of security questions need to be answered and modifications to the security apparatus would need to be done, I’m confident that the airport will deliver the first phase next year sometime.
And for those who worry about their privacy and the advent of Aadhaar, well, the old-fashioned way of access should still be around I hope.
In summary, I think this is a great move but will come with its pitfalls. And people should eventually have the right to choose if they’d like their speed or their privacy at the end of this gate.
What do you think about this project? Will it work out?