Search icon


27th Apr 2019

Heathrow Airport to replace passport checks with facial recognition technology

Heathrow Airport is set to introduce facial recognition technology to make passport queues more efficient at the London airport

Dave Hanratty

At a cost of an estimated £50 million

London’s Heathrow Airport is set to introduce a new system for passengers aimed towards replacing passport usage via facial recognition technology.

According to a report in the UK Times, the £50 million technology (close to €58 million) will see passengers visit kiosks in order to scan their passports before having a photograph taken.

Following that, their face would then be matched to the specific passport and travel details.

This is intended to remove the need for passports on subsequent journeys via Heathrow, where passengers will instead simply look at the camera when walking through security checks.

Heathrow currently brings about 78 millions passengers through its doors each year, and expects to introduce the new method this summer.

The Times noted that the new system will mark the biggest single deployment of biometric technology in the world.

Aviation consultant Alex Macheras, presumably also familiar with Twilight Zone-esque media, told the paper:

“From the point of view of convenience it undoubtedly works, although customers will have concerns about how their data is protected and airports must be transparent about this.”

Heathrow has denied that it will request data from its passengers, and has stated that anyone wishing to opt out of the facial recognition process may do so.

Gatwick Airport, meanwhile, confirmed on Friday that it would run a second trial of facial recognition technology in May, having first introduced it in May last year.