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‘Fast and Seamless Travel’ options using facial recognition technology being tested at Singapore Changi Airport’s new terminal

Automated Immigration Gate at Singapore Changi Airport T4 (Photo credit: CAG)

The Changi Airport Group (CAG) is testing a suite of Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) options to be introduced at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4.

CAG commenced operational readiness trials in October last year, working with its airport partners to prepare for operations at T4. It started with table-top exercises, which were designed to refine standard operating procedures, and progressed to ground deployment exercises which focused primarily on staff familiarisation with the new terminal and its processes.

In recent months, volunteers have played the role of passengers to test airport systems and processes. Altogether, more than 100 trials have been conducted, involving over 2,000 volunteer participants and 1,000 airport staff. Flight trials were conducted recently with military chartered flights. Trials will be extended soon to include selected commercial flights, providing opportunities to simulate real flight situations with actual passengers and enabling CAG and its partners to identify gaps which might have been missed earlier.

Along with security screening, GST refund, baggage reclaim, ground transport, way-finding, passenger and baggage transfer and vehicular movements in the apron, the testing would include the suite of Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) options to be introduced at T4. The FAST initiative offers passengers self-service options at various stages of departure - check-in, bag drop, immigration and boarding.

Automated Check-In Kiosks (left) and Automated Bag Drop (right) (Photo credit: CAG)

Automated Check-In Kiosks (ACK)

Depending on the airline, passengers enter their booking reference or scan their passport to retrieve the flight booking, select seat (where available), print boarding pass and bag tag(s). They then tag their luggage to be checked in.

Automated Bag Drop (ABD)

A photo of the passenger is captured and matched against the photo in the passport before the luggage is accepted and inducted into the baggage handling system.

Automated Immigration Gate (AIG)

The AIG is an enhanced version of the automated immigration lanes currently being used at existing terminals. The AIGs at T4 will use a dual facial and thumbprint biometric recognition system. The passenger’s photo is captured and matched against the one in the passport. Only Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and travellers who have registered with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority can use the AIG. They must also be at least six years old.

Facial recognition technology is being introduced for the first time at T4. The technology is integrated in the FAST process to authenticate each passenger’s identity. This automated process replaces the need for manual identity verification by staff. At the existing terminals passengers’ identity checks are carried out manually by the airlines and security personnel, at T4.

Automated Boarding Gate (ABG)

Photo credit: CAG

Passengers only need to scan their boarding pass at the boarding gate, and authenticate their identity by taking a photo. The facial recognition system matches this photo against the photo taken earlier at the AIG.

Phased rollout of FAST at three existing terminals

Changi Airport has conducted a phased rollout of FAST at its existing three terminals since 2015. The design of user interfaces was improved to make it easier for passengers to use, in view of challenges posed by integration of FAST with airlines’ systems and human-machine interaction.

Two airlines moving to T4, Cathay Pacific and AirAsia, have been providing FAST options to their passengers at Terminal 1, where they currently operate, since February this year. The press release states that the response has been positive with over half of the airlines’ passengers choosing the FAST option in the past three months.

The date of commencement of operations at T4 will be determined later, after all the trials show that T4 is ready for operations. Nine airlines will operate at T4 when it opens – the Air Asia Group (of four airlines), Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, Korean Air, Spring Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. Together, they serve an estimated eight million passengers at Changi Airport each year.

Read the press release here.

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