SAS extends fingerprint ID system for domestic flights
All voluntary - for now
Swedish airline SAS is extending a biometric security program on national flights from Stockholm and Gothenburg and will roll it out to international flights in the near future.
Approximately 50 per cent of all passengers on SAS's domestic flights travel will be able to use the biometric solution, the company announced this week.
The scheme is supposed to help match luggage with passengers. Airlines are obliged by law to match passengers with bags, a measure intended to make it harder to sabotage an aircraft. SAS also hopes it will solve the problem of rogue bags getting onto planes.
Under the scheme, passengers will have to have their fingerprints scanned when they check in luggage and also when they board the plane. The security check is not mandatory, at least for now.
However, SAS insists that the fingerprint technology is more secure and easier than other methods. When passengers use biometrics, no further ID is needed. Personal data is protected because the fingerprint is erased at the end of the flight, Susanne Dahlberg, Commercial Director for SAS Sverige, said.
SAS started its biometrics program in 2006, when it selected Precise Biometrics as the overall supplier for the technology. Precise Biometrics, which attracted international attention as one of the main suppliers of national ID cards for the 60 million-plus inhabitants of Thailand, developed the solution solely for SAS. However, it sees a large global market for its Precise BioFlight product, such as internal security checks.
SAS Sverige has previously used the system at regional airports around Sweden. The complete biometric solution is now in operation on flights from Arlanda to Luleå and Gothenburg and from Gothenburg to Arlanda.
Sweden is the first country to introduce fingerprinting on such a large scale. No other airlines have announced similar plans. In the US, air carriers were fighting a federal proposal last year that would require their personnel to digitally scan foreigners' fingerprints at check-in areas before departure. This would hamper the check-in process significantly, the airlines feared. ®
Not as reliable as theyed like
A couple of weeks ago I was on an SAS domestic Norway flight and lady at the check-in gave up trying to scan my fingerprint after the 3rd try. They see an image on their screen and have to decide/get told? if it's a good scan, I'm not sure what was wrong on this occasion, it's worked in the past.
It meant I had to queue at the gate whereas most others were able to stick their finger to the scanner and go straight through.
What happens if it's compulsory? surely they have to have a backup option.
GUMI (Give Us More Icons)!
If the Home Secretary is listening...
...and still has the faintest hope of getting ID cards to fly, this is how you go about 'non-compulsorily' sneaking them in. I'm as biometric-sceptic as the next Vulture, but when flying back home from northern Sweden the other month, I found myself dutifully pressing my digit on the pad when requested. Followed shortly by a 'what the hell did I just do?' moment, but when you're holding a toddler in one arm and a variety of coats and bags in the other (having just been made to check his lightweight folding pushchair into the hold because SAS don't want to pay someone to collect it from the gate any more) while your wife sets about the critical task of rounding up everything you own that is or might possibly be a liquid in order to cram into the regulation plastic bag the ones that are security-acceptable and neck the ones that aren't (it was water, honest), then holding the whole process up in order to discuss a point of principle about the creeping erosion of privacy with an unimpressed checkin operative doesn't always seem that wise.
It didn't in any way help them to match us up with our luggage, which was still on the ground at Luleå 24 hours later because the (compulsory) automatic checkin machine had apparently got out of sync with its label printer.
I want to believe, I really do
"Personal data is protected because the fingerprint is erased at the end of the flight"