A new airport experience with Star Alliance Biometrics
Creating A Seamless Customer Journey with Star Alliance Biometrics, Powered by NEC I:Delight
Launched in November 2020 at Frankfurt Airport and Munich Airport, Star Alliance Biometrics was the
latest initiative from the world’s largest global aviation alliance, Star Alliance, to create a
seamless airport experience that is simple, touchless and secure. Built on the NEC I:Delight
platform, Star Alliance Biometrics employs best-in-class Digital ID technology to address key
concerns of passengers travelling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
The existing airport experience has long been a common customer complaint. From long queues
to the need for physical documents, customers desire a seamless and more efficient way to
travel. Heidrun Holin, Senior Project Manager, Lufthansa Product Management Ground, said
that the evolution to the new solution was "not only wanted, but also expected."
In addition, Star Alliance has to constantly adjust to the ever-evolving customer needs,
which changed dramatically due to the pandemic. Jeffrey Goh, Chief Executive Officer of Star
Alliance, shared, "As we were developing a more seamless experience for our customers, we
were hit by the [COVID-19] crisis. Safety and security became paramount for our customers,
and we had to deliver on their hygiene expectations, such as less contact in the customer
Finally, Star Alliance had to ensure that the new solution would protect its customers’
personal data and privacy. Torsten Maus, Director, Services & Innovation at Star Alliance,
said, "One of our main challenges in developing our platform was the General Data Protection
Regulation (GDPR), one of the key terms of data protection within Europe to which we had to
In partnership with NEC, the Star Alliance Biometrics identity verification platform was
November 2020 at Frankfurt Airport and Munich Airport. Built upon NEC I:Delight biometric and
identity management platform software, the solution provides a fast, secure and touchless travel
experience at all checkpoints. Members of the Lufthansa and SWISS frequent flyer program who
opt-in to Star Alliance Biometrics are
able to pass through both security access and boarding gates in a touchless manner. This is made
possible utilizing NEC’s facial recognition technologies to enable biometric identification of
passengers to ensure high-precision certification.
Ranked number one in the world for accuracy, NEC’s facial recognition engine provides quick,
accurate and secure biometric verification, even when face coverings or masks are present.
Contactless thermal screening that is precise and autonomous also enables airport workers to
safe distance away from passengers without compromising health and safety protocols. Jens
Sanner, Passenger Process at Fraport AG, which operates Frankfurt Airport, said, "The main
benefits are speed and
convenience for our customers. NEC is doing a great job with biometrics - you don’t have to
you can keep your masks on, [NEC] will get you through the airport."
To enroll in the Star Alliance Biometrics platform, passengers follow just a few easy steps
using a mobile device. Upon completion, passengers immediately have an interoperable Digital ID that
significantly improves the travel experience. Holin said, "What makes the Star Alliance Biometrics
platform special is that, as a passenger, you can enroll wherever and whenever you want, and you
can use it on any Lufthansa or SWISS flight without having to enroll again."
The Star Alliance Biometrics platform is opt-in and designed with user-centric data protection in
mind. Travelers can customize how and where their data is used, with only the necessary data being
collected by the system and stored securely. Christian Draeger, Vice President Customer Experience at
Star Alliance, said, "Users have the ability to provide consent in a structured manner. While you
will have the ability to provide consent so that your Digital ID can be used across the globe,
you can also be more restrictive and say that you only want it to be used in certain airports or
regions. We minimize the data that is stored and encrypt the whole data for use in your future
travels, and you will also have the ability to opt-out at any point of time and request that
your information be deleted."
Partnering With NEC
Through this partnership, NEC was able to create an end-to-end solution that fit the needs of
Star Alliance and its customers. Maus shared, "In NEC, we have a partner that has the ability to
deliver such a solution, while adhering to the GDPR guidelines and requirements. They have expertise to
help us, guiding us through the process of implementing such a solution."
Maus also complimented NEC’s nimbleness and ability in adapting to Star’s Alliance needs during
ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic. "NEC showed its strength and experience when dealing with new
requirements. The solution turnaround to develop a new algorithm that could identify people even
when wearing a mask was tremendous, allowing us to deliver one of our core promises, which is to
provide a seamless customer experience."
Additionally, NEC’s expertise in biometrics identity management made it the clear partner for
Alliance Biometrics. Goh explained that "Star Alliance’s partnership is a reflection of the
credentials of NEC. It is important that [we select] partners that understand our business to
us to build long-term and enduring partnerships that are nimble, agile and flexible, and this is
what we believe our partnership with NEC will deliver."
With a network of 26 member airlines, the Star Alliance Biometrics platform can work across
different locations while delivering a consistent travel experience. Raffie Beroukhim, Senior Vice
President and Chief Experience Officer at NEC Corporation of America, said, "So often, we see an
identity management system in one terminal, but when you arrive or depart to come back home, it’s
another experience. The scalability and interoperability of this platform are key to the expansion
of Digital ID and biometrics in the aviation field."
Through the partnership with Star Alliance, NEC is also fulfilling its long-term vision of
identity management using the NEC I:Delight platform. As Beroukhim explained, "Adding more terminals
with biometrics through our partnership with Star Alliance will generate a buzz that will enable
more enrollments and more use of the technology. NEC I:Delight is a trusted independent partner
with our providers to ensure travelers have a safe, secure and verified Digital ID. Having multiple
touchpoints throughout the customer
journey is very important to the continuous growth of the platform for aviation and beyond."
Looking ahead, NEC and Star Alliance are excited about opportunities to expand upon this
technology and improve the entire passenger journey. The use of a Digital ID can also extend beyond the
airport experience to provide a truly personalized experience for passengers at VIP lounges, retail
shops, hotels and more. As Draeger shared, "We want to extend biometric features because the
customer will expect to have a similar service not just for air travel but also when he
rents a car or accesses his hotel room. The customer will expect to have a holistic experience from an
identity management perspective."