A Brave New World – Biometric Check-in at the Airport

A sign at the Lufthansa gate happily informed us that this would be a biometric check-in.

Brave new world - biometric passport check-in

You need one of the newer passports that is biometric-capable. There’s an icon on the cover that identifies it.

biometric check-in passport icon
This biometric symbol is usually printed on the cover of biometric (ICAO compliant) passports.

The passport has a small embedded chip that contains more info than the basic contact information printed in your passport. That extra information is compared with the images from the camera to confirm your identity.

If you have an older passport or the system can’t match you, the gate attendants process you manually.

When it was my turn to board the airplane, I stood on the yellow footprints and looked at the camera.

A few seconds later, the arrows flashed green, the gates opened, and I walk into the jetway.

From one perspective, it’s an amazing technology that can scan, recognize and confirm my identity from an embedded chip in seconds.

From another perspective, it’s scary as hell that it can do this so fast and so well.

biometric check-in airport

If you’re traveling these days, you can expect lots of systems tracking your movements. You’re spreading digital breadcrumbs all over the place just by buying a ticket and getting through security at the airport.

And our phones and credit cards track our location whether we’ve agreed to it or not.

In general, I like new tech and appreciate all the great things it brings to my life.

But, at that moment, it seemed like a small step from biometric flight boarding to every dark sci-fi thriller based on total government control.

If you think I’m being paranoid, just ask the citizens of Hong Kong.


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