16:20 PM

TPA to test biometrics, E-gates to improve passenger experience

Imagine traveling through an airport and never once needing to show your ID or boarding pass. No awkward digging through your purse. No struggle to remove your driver’s license out of that little plastic sleeve. No panic when you can’t get your boarding pass to load on your phone.

Biometric technology is bringing this reality to airports all around the world, including at TPA.

“Right now, it’s on the edge of happening,” said Senior IT Manager Doug Wycoff, who is spearheading the initiative for TPA.

Tampa International Airport is joining airports around the country to implement biometrics – facial recognition, to be exact – to streamline the passenger experience.

TPA will debut the technology this summer at three international gates at Airside F as part of a federal mandate to use biometrics for screening all departing international passengers. After a trial period, TPA plans to install the technology at 10 gates – seven at Airside F, two at Airside E and one at Airside C – by 2020.

The facial recognition devices take the place of showing your passport at the gate.

“This will enhance customer experience by speeding up the boarding process,” said Director of Guest Services Daniel Glennon. “Essentially, it’s an iPad on a stand that serves as a camera as you’re getting in line. Within a matter of seconds, it can determine your identification.”

Eventually, the screening will serve as both your passport and boarding pass – meaning you don’t need to show any ID at the gate.

“We’re moving in the direction of a one-stop process,” Wycoff said.

TPA will also install electronic gates at the entrance to the Airside A shuttle this summer to test the concept for use at all four shuttle entrances. Passengers will simply scan their boarding passes at the E-gate to gain access to the shuttle, replacing the current system that requires manual scanning. E-gates allow TPA to go from two to four boarding pass scanning devices per airside, helping to speed up the process and making it faster for guests to get to their gate. If the pilot is a success, the E-gates will be deployed at the remaining three shuttle entrances in early 2020.

Wycoff says this type of technology is used in airports in Asia and Europe. It helps provide a quicker passenger experience, greater security and provides TPA with more accurate information passenger metrics.

“It’s a big enhancement both for our passengers and the Airport,” he said.