After a tumultuous few years due to the pandemic, airports are seeing a resurgence in passenger numbers. With the return to pre-pandemic levels, the demand for frictionless, efficient experiences has never been more urgent. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is coming into focus as a viable solution to many challenges in modern airport operations.

Passenger Flow Management: The Eye in the Sky

One of the most significant aspects of airport management is passenger flow. Traditionally dependent on manual surveillance and data analytics, this area is ripe for innovation. AI, through computer vision, has proven to be a game-changer. Not only can it track passengers from arrival to boarding with high accuracy, but it also enables real-time interventions. For instance, if bottlenecks occur at security or check-in counters, additional staff can be quickly deployed, improving efficiency and passenger satisfaction.

Virtual Queuing: A Face Worth a Thousand Boarding Passes

AI’s application goes beyond operational aspects; it impacts the revenue side as well. Facial biometrics for virtual queuing allows passengers to swiftly move through security, giving them more time in duty-free areas. With concessions contributing over 30% to US airports’ non-aeronautical revenue, faster security processes could translate into more time for passengers to shop, thereby increasing airport revenues.

Biometric Boarding: Faces over Passes

Replacing paper boarding passes and manual identification by air stewards, biometric boarding is another AI-enabled innovation. The technology compares a live capture of the passenger’s face against a pre-scanned passport photo, offering a more secure and rapid boarding experience. Some airports are even exploring the idea of entirely eliminating the need for displaying boarding passes and passports.

AI Bag Scanning: The Automated Security Guardian

Security is the cornerstone of air travel, but also its most frustrating aspect. AI bag scanning technologies can accurately and quickly identify prohibited items, reducing the need for manual searches and speeding up the entire process. This not only boosts efficiency but also improves the allocation of human resources within the airport.

What’s on the Horizon?

AI is likely to be a key component of future airport operations, and its applications will continue to expand. The promise is not just efficiency but an enhanced, frictionless experience that could redefine what air travel feels like in the post-pandemic world.