Emirates Advances Biometric Technologies to Enhance Customer Experience - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank

Emirates, a major airline based in the United Arab Emirates, is facilitating passenger experience with the expansion of biometric technologies and its capabilities. In Emirates’ recent press release, they announced the airline was the largest international airline in 2020, carrying over 15.8 million passengers. Emirates likewise introduced key biometric innovations and their plans to expand them in the coming months.

The Testing Ground: Dubai International Airport

In 2019, Emirates began trialing its biometric technologies at touchpoints throughout the airport. Within the past year, Emirates accelerated the launch of its biometric technology at its hub in Dubai International Airport and now has over 30 active biometric cameras at check-in counters, boarding gates, and premium lounges. According to the airline, over 58,000 passengers have used Emirates’ touchless biometric technology to enter its lounge. Additionally, over 380,000 passengers have used biometric gates at Dubai International Airport to board their flights.

Since the start of the pandemic, Emirates has recognized the growing number of passengers who favor biometric checkpoints and intends to supply more gates with biometric scanners. Emirates has even partnered with Dubai Airport stakeholders and the immigration team to relaunch Smart Gates— a contactless technology that allows for travelers to proceed through passport control quickly without the need to scan documents. Visa-on-Arrival guests with biometric passports are eligible to utilize this option. 

Emirates Expands the IATA Travel Pass to Six Continents

As part of growing its biometric services, Emirates has partnered with the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Travel Pass. The IATA Travel Pass allows for travelers to collect information on testing and/or vaccination requirements, access COVID-19 testing centers and to store their test results and vaccine records digitally. 

Emirates has a vast route network that covers all six inhabited continents. The airline is now the first to utilize the IATA Travel Pass on flights to these six continents following successful trials in recent months. As of now, travelers have the ability to use the IATA Travel Pass on Emirates’ flights from 50 destinations. By October, the airline anticipates offering the IATA Travel Pass on all 120+ of their destinations.

“Emirates continues to invest in technology and solutions, like IATA Travel Pass, so that we can deliver smooth journeys and contactless experiences for our customers while enabling our airport teams to handle document checks efficiently and in compliance with regulatory requirements”, said Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer said in a press release. “We are pleased to partner with IATA on the IATA Travel Pass solution from early pilot trials to full implementation and we will continue to work closely with IATA on enhancements to facilitate even more secure and smoother journeys for travellers.

“Emirates’ implementation of IATA Travel Pass across its global network cements its role as a key tool in managing the complex myriad of health credentials required for travel. By providing passengers with a one-stop-shop to demystify, manage and process these credentials through a secure automated process, they can arrive at the airport ready-to-fly using automated processes. This will avoid queuing and congestion for document checks—to the benefit of travelers, airlines, airports and governments”, said Nick Careen, IATA Senior Vice President Operations, Safety and Security.

Emirates declares itself a “forerunner in adopting digital verification solutions for travel,” made evident by the airline’s decisions to integrate the IATA Travel Pass and expand biometric technologies to ease the travel experience.


Roger Lu is an aviation enthusiast and analyst researching the implications of technology on global travel. He enjoys writing about how data is utilized in the context of aviation security and customer experience.

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