Changi Airport boosts safety by making travel touch-free
Instead of fingerprint scanning, travellers will get face and iris scans for identity verification
Facial and iris recognition, instead of fingerprint scanning, will be the primary biometric identifier for travellers at Changi Airport's immigration clearance.
They will also be able to operate self-check-in and baggage drop machines without touching them. A trial is under way to allow them to operate lifts without touching buttons as well.
This means travellers will be able to breeze through Changi Airport with minimal contact with staff and surfaces.
The measures are part of a push by the airport to improve safety amid the Covid-19 pandemic even as it awaits the resumption of mass travel. The new facilities were showcased at a media briefing at Changi Airport Terminal 3 yesterday.
Said Mr Tan Lye Teck, Changi Airport Group (CAG) executive vice-president for airport management: "Passengers will expect airports to deliver the highest standards of safety and hygiene to give them peace of mind during their journey and we will rapidly bring on board new measures as we go into a new normal for air travel.
"CAG will work with other aviation partners to instil a high sense of confidence among travellers going through Changi Airport when air travel eventually resumes."
The use of facial and iris recognition as the primary option began around April and is now in place at Terminals 1 and 3 at Changi Airport. It will allow passengers, whose facial and iris data have been enrolled by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), to bypass the need to use the fingerprint scanner for identity verification. They will just have to look into the iris and facial scan cameras.
"Only when identification via iris and facial scans is unsuccessful, or if the passengers have yet to enrol their iris and facial biometrics with ICA, will they be prompted to scan their fingerprint instead," said CAG.
The fingerprint scanner has been sprayed with a disinfectant coating. Hand sanitisers are also available.
ICA has been enrolling iris images of customers during their transactions - such as the collection of passports - at service centres since 2017. Those with passport numbers starting with "K" will also have had their iris scans registered by ICA.
The Straits Times understands these passports have been issued since October 2017.
Singapore residents and foreigners who have yet to have their iris or facial scans registered by ICA can just go through the manual immigration process once for the data to be registered.
CAG said more than 160 contactless check-in and baggage drop machines had been fitted with proximity touch screens and infrared sensors to track finger movements.
This allows travellers to have their fingers hover over the screens to select options as opposed to tapping.
Mr Albert Lim, senior vice-president of passenger experience at CAG, said: "For the majority of these innovations we have put in place, I think it will become a way of life of how we manage the airport. It will be here to stay."