Passengers flying from Aruba on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to Schipol in the Netherlands do, indeed, find themselves flowing happily into the future. Once they check-in they never have to join a line to show an ID, never have to produce a passport or boarding card. Instead, they are tracked at points through the terminal all the way to their seat on the airplane using face-recognition cameras.
Happy Flow pioneers a biometric technology that the International Air Transport Association, IATA, wants to be available worldwide for 80 percent of passengers by 2020. The idea is to bring the kind of self-service already common in retailing and banking to the airport—getting passengers and baggage to the airplane with flawless efficiency.
However, meeting that deadline could be something of a reach. Retailing and banking don’t usually involve full body security scans or bureaucracies on the scale of the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Agency that can make the adoption of any new technology a tortuously slow process.
The IATA loves the Smart Airport concept because they believe it will save the airline industry more than $2 billion a year in costs.