Narita Airport innovates to reduce passenger interactions

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The management team of Japan’s Narita International Airport (NRT) launched new innovative passenger check-in stations which are expected to ease and shorten check-in and boarding processes to lessen interpersonal interactions between travelers.

On April 13, 2021, Tokyo-Narita International Airport started offering travelers an option to try out several new biometric stations developed for a quicker passenger check-in process. In partnership with travel technology company Amadeus and the Japanese electronics company NEC Corporation, NRT airport completed the major rollout of a biometric technology that allows passengers to complete every necessary preflight step in the airport using their faces, and this way to simplify the passenger handling process in the airport.

The biometric technology captures the faces of passengers and verifies the image against their passports. Then, after the verification process is done, passengers are allowed to use an automated bag drop unit (ADB), which uses the data from the camera to automatically recognize passengers who drop their baggage. The technology also allows travelers to pass through security and boarding gates faster while using special security and boarding e-gates, equipped with cameras that automatically identify every passenger and grant travelers permission to enter an aircraft.

In the statement presenting the launch of the new innovative technology, the manager of the mechanical systems engineering at NRT airport Masato Kitagawa outlined that the biometric stations meet the standard for facial recognition systems issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and are expected to be adjusted as the new standard for all international departures from NRT airport.

“Everyone at Narita Airport is proud to have delivered Japan’s first end-to-end biometric departure process. Our passengers will benefit from a low-touch, automated experience that increases safety and convenience. Biometric technology is an incredibly powerful tool and key in addressing the challenges posed by Covid-19,” Kitagawa was quoted as saying in the statement.

The new service was implemented in a response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as the management of the airport aimed to lessen interpersonal interactions between travelers to reduce the probability of getting infected by the virus. The biometric technology-based solution is expected to eliminate the need to physically touch the self-service equipment while reducing the amount of time for passengers to pass through the premises of the Narita Airport.

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