LONDON – Dubai Airport has been at the forefront of many engineering marvels over the years with its constant expansion and the need for more Airbus A380 stands, but the one thing the airport has always kept at the forefront of its plans is passenger happiness.

Dubai is one of the few airports in the world where passengers may transit through its terminals in a simple and seamless manner.

Image Credit: GDRFA

Today’s unveiling of the new passport control clearance area will continue to make the passenger flow more efficient. In August, DXB moved over 8.37 million passengers.

According to local media, the new technology will be impelled at Terminal 3, which is currently only serving Emirates fights and, occasionally, its low-cost partner, FlyDubai.

The new passport control system will be implemented for First and Business Class passengers and is currently still in the testing stages.

On Wednesday, October 10, about 20 passengers trailed the new passport control system, and according to local reports, they all passed through with no hiccups.

But how does it work?

Well, the passengers approach the gate and must stand there for a moment while the “smart tunnel” scans the user’s iris.

After that approach, the passenger will continue to walk forward and a ‘biometric border’ walkway takes a 3D scan the passengers’ face. The system then checks the 3D model it has created with a facial recognition database.

Image Credit: GDRFA

The whole process takes only a few minutes and there is no human interaction throughout the experience.

On their first use of the new smart tunnels, passengers must get their passports verified, which it would appear will be done by a human enforcement officer, but the exact details of this remain unclear.

As it currently stands passengers arriving and departing Dubai are able to use the current E-Gates as long as their passports have been verified on their initial entry into the country.

How does it compare with current E-Gates?

Well, that remains to be unclear on how it will compare as the system is still in its early stages, but the lack of need for a passport to be presented is a move in the right direction.

Current systems are not commonly used by the mass of passengers. In London-Heathrow, for example, the E-gates always seem to be empty—this is normally down to passengers, not having E-passports.

The software for the current E-Gate is also quite temperamental, there is what appears a constant need for human interaction for troubleshooting issues with passports not scanning correctly.

The use of facial recognition will be a useful tool the battle of stopping people for forging fake passports. While the technology will only be available in Dubai, there is a clear market for such gates to be rolled out to airports around the world.

So what does this all mean for the future of travel?

The introduction of the E-Gate saw the amount of time travels spent at passport control checks drop, but this new system is clearly going to revolutionize the way we travel, as it currently stands only business and first-class passengers will be able to use this technology at Dubai. 

It is also important to note that while the AI is fast and takes half the time to complete the process there will always be a need for the human touch.

As we move more and more towards a world of automated airports, it is clear to see the best way to combat the increasing number of passengers is to bring in new technology.

The introduction of these new passport control gates at Dubai will change the way we travel, and with a triumphant test of automated bonding systems at airports such as London-Gatwick, it looks as if it will not be long before you are all traveling through fully automated airports.