How UAE’s smart airports meet global travellers’ rising demand for high-tech services

In Dubai, residents arriving at and departing from Terminal 3 can now go through passport control in a few seconds


Angel Tesorero

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Published: Fri 27 Oct 2023, 4:10 PM

Last updated: Sun 29 Oct 2023, 3:23 PM

Worldwide travellers are increasingly embracing biometrics and off-airport processes – such as baggage check-in or collection services completed at home, hotel or office – to move through the airport faster.

This was the main finding of the 2023 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Friday. IATA represents some 300 airlines comprising 83 per cent of global air traffic and the survey was conducted among 8,000 respondents from more than 200 countries.

In the UAE, residents arriving at and departing from Dubai International Airport (DXB) Terminal 3 can now go through passport control in a few seconds using the enhanced smart gates, featuring facial recognition.

As reported recently by Khaleej Times, there are now five updated smart gates available at DXB Terminal 3 that allow passengers to seamlessly go through the immigration procedures by using their optic and facial print.

The majority of contactless smart gates at Dubai airport terminals, however, still require the scanning of passports of arriving and departing passengers.

An official from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai said facial recognition will also be soon implemented in DXB Terminals 1 and 2.

Moving at the airport faster

Talking about the GPS result, Nick Careen, senior vice president for operations, safety and security at IATA, noted: “Passengers have made it clear — they want to spend less time booking and move through the airport faster.”

“Passengers prefer to complete more processes off-site, and arrive at the airport ready to fly. And they are increasingly willing to use biometric data to complete more pre-departure tasks off airport to achieve this,” he added.

Careen reiterated “passengers are willing to use biometric data. But we need cooperation across the value chain and with governments to make it happen with secure technology that is available today.”

He noted IATA’s One ID initiative will enable passengers to digitally obtain all necessary pre-travel authorizations directly from governments before their trip. With 'OK to Fly' status shared with the airline, travellers can bypass all on-airport document verifications and enjoy an expedited travel process.

“We have the standards and technology to radically improve the international travel experience. But we can only move at the pace that governments allow within their regulations. That’s why a top priority in realising seamless One ID enabled travel is working with governments to demonstrate that border control can be more secure even while making passenger travel more convenient,” said Careen.

Here are key results of the GPS

  • Confidence in biometric identification is on the rise. In the last 12 months, 46 per cent of passengers used biometrics at the airport, up from 34 per cent in 2022.
  • 87 per cent of travellers indicated they would share their immigration information to speed up the airport arrival process, representing an increase from the 83 per cent reported in 2022.
  • Furthermore, 75 per cent of passengers prefer using biometric data over traditional passports and boarding passes.
  • While data protection remains a concern for half of the travellers, 40 per cent would be more open to biometric solutions if they were confident that their personal information is secure — an increase from 33 per cent in 2022.
  • Passengers expect to move through the airport faster than ever. 74 per cent stated that when travelling with only a carry-on bag, they anticipate going from the curb to the boarding gate in 30 minutes or less, an increase from 54 per cent in 2022.
  • Passengers want more flexibility and more control in the baggage process. 67 per cent would be interested in home pick-up and delivery, 77 per cent said they would be likely to check in a bag if they could tag it and check it in before they get to the airport and 87 per cent would be willing to check in a bag if they could track it.


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