More than three million British Airways passengers on UK domestic flights from Heathrow have used new biometric facial recognition technology to board flights.

Self-service boarding gates have now been installed at the Terminal 5, allowing travellers to scan their own boarding cards to gain access to their flight.

This is the first step towards biometric boarding on international flights from the UK, according to the carrier which is the first to use the technology on domestic services.

More than 250,000 BA passengers have used their face as their identity to board a flight from the US in the last 18 months.

The streamlined boarding process halves the amount of time it takes to board an aircraft for those flying from Orlando, Los Angeles and New York, JFK.

Passengers no longer need to present their passport or boarding pass at the departure gate – only when they check in and go through security.

Instead they look into a camera prior to boarding, wait for their biometric data to be verified and then walk onto the aircraft.

BA claims to be boarding almost 240 passengers in 10 minutes at Orlando – becoming the first carrier to set up permanent facial recognition gates at the airport.

It was the first UK airline to use biometric technology to board flights from the US, working with the US Customs and Border Protection to implement the technology, which has enabled the airline to speed up the boarding process.

BA was also the first UK airline to use the technology on UK domestic flights.

Senior digital design manager Raoul Cooper said: “We are continuing to pioneer the use of technology and automation to enhance the airport experience and ensure that our customers’ flights depart on time.

“The airport of the future will be built upon biometric technology, from check-in and baggage drops to security checks and boarding. These days, automation is a part of everyday life, as is biometric technology via our mobile phones.

“We’re working with our technology partners and the US government to explore how we can use this technology in new and innovative ways to give our customers the stress-free, easy airport experience they tell us they want, while ensuring security is always our top priority.”

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