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A new airport experience with Star Alliance Biometrics

Creating A Seamless Customer Journey with Star Alliance Biometrics, Powered by NEC I:Delight

Introduction

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.

Challenges

Heidrun Holin

Senior Project Manager,
Lufthansa Product Management Ground

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."

Jeffrey Goh

CEO of Star Alliance

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 experience."

Torsten Maus

Torsten Maus

Star Alliance Director,
Services & Innovation

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 adhere."

Solutions

Torsten Maus

In partnership with NEC, the Star Alliance Biometrics identity verification platform was launched in 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.

Jens Senner

Jens Sanner

Fraport AG
Passenger Processn

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 keep a 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 touch, you can keep your masks on, [NEC] will get you through the airport."

solution-phone

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."

Christian Draeger

Christian Draeger

Star Alliance Vice President,
Customer Experience

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

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 the 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 Star 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 allow 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."

Looking Ahead

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."

Raffie Beroukhim

Raffie Beroukhim

NEC Corporation of America,
Senior Vice President and Chief Experience Officer

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-img-1

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."

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