SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR PASSPORT: Sydney airport trials facial recognition

Sydney airport is trialling the first stage of a new facial recognition trial with Qantas.

Welcome to the future, everyone, where your new passport is your face and flying cars are nowhere to be seen.


This new “couch-to-gate” system could signal the beginning of a world where passengers can breeze through most stages of airport usage armed with just their face as a means of identification, which would significantly cut down queue times, reports the Australian Financial Review.

The trial will be rolled out first with Qantas flyers on international flights across automated check-in, bag drop, lounge access and boarding.

“In the future, there will be no more juggling passports and bags at check-in and digging through pockets or smartphones to show your boarding pass – your face will be your passport and your boarding pass at every step of the process,” Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert said in a statement.

Passengers will be asked when checking in if they would like to participate in the trial and, if they agree, will then have their photo taken at a special kiosk, scan their passport and check in to create the special link between their passport, photo and booking info, as per AFR.

But some privacy experts are warning about the implications of widespread adoption of biometric security.

“We can see this being used across the private and public sector. There are pluses and minuses with any application of this and there are definitely privacy concerns,” University of Canberra assistant professor and privacy expert Dr Bruce Baer Arnold told AFR.

“We believe this approach will spread to other transport locations like Central Station in Sydney and Flinders Street and Southern Cross stations in Melbourne. And if the security rationale is about preventing terrorism, why not extend it to other locations like shopping malls, public squares or stadiums like the MCG. It could be anywhere that people gather together.

“The concern there is that this is ultimately disproportionate. Biometrics are very powerful and can produce real social benefits, or it can product real harm. Just because you have a hammer, doesn’t mean everything is a nail.”