Benefits of online identity verification for airlines
By Dmitri Laush, CEO of Get ID
The global pandemic has hit the global aviation industry hard. According to Statistical, in January 2021, the number of scheduled flights worldwide was down 43.5% from January 2020. However, countries have now started to open up and international flights are back. As COVID-19 has brought many services online, online passenger check-in is now being implemented by more and more airlines. In this article, we’ll take a look at online check-ins, explain why they are needed, and how airlines benefit.
Why do airlines verify the identity of passengers in the first place?
Any airline may require a valid photo ID and visa from any passenger if it is required to enter a certain country. Passengers must provide all identifying information including number, expiration date, place of issue, date of birth, etc.
This is necessary to ensure the safety of those on board and to ensure that no criminals or accused persons attempt to flee the country or engage in other illegal activities. It is also necessary to ensure that a passenger has the right to enter a particular country. Of course, this is the responsibility of the customs officer, but the airlines can make it easier for themselves and prevent some citizens from even buying a ticket.
What are the benefits of online identity verification?
First, online identity verification saves time. If you ever see long lines at the airport, it usually comes down to signing up for a flight. Online check-in before arrival at the airport can save a lot of time not only for the passenger but also for the airline staff.
Second, it’s cheaper for the airline. This is why many low cost airlines require online check-in and charge the passenger if they prefer to check-in at the airport. If everyone has entered their personal details online and received the boarding pass with the QR code to scan, airlines no longer need to pay staff working at check-in desks and do not need to rent these offices at the airport.
Third, COVID restrictions still exist in many countries, and new variants of the coronavirus continue to emerge. Therefore, to comply with the existing rules, it is safer and more convenient to check in passengers online than to have them stand side by side in the queue at the airport check-in desk.
Additionally, to save passengers time and facilitate online check-in and identity verification, airlines can trust third-party identity verification providers, who are able to extract data from pieces of identity. The extracted identification data (for example, first and last name, date of birth, document number, etc.) is then used to pre-fill the registration form. Since a large portion of online check-ins are done using mobile devices, form pre-filling is a great feature to improve the customer experience and increase booking completion rates.
What are the pitfalls?
Despite the fact that online check-in is cheap, quick and convenient, there are pitfalls for both the airline and the passenger.
First of all, it is easier to perform any kind of identity theft or identity theft online. If you don’t look like your passport photo online, no one will ever know because it is only detectable in front of the registration office / customs officer. Thus, fraudsters can obtain airline tickets online with forged or false documents, especially if the flight is domestic and there is no customs office. How can we prevent this? Airlines simply need to use identity verification providers capable of detecting identity and identity fraud.
Second, scammers can access the passenger’s personal account and reissue the boarding ticket to another person or spend the miles and bonuses earned. How can you stop this? Again, using a suitable identity verification provider and multi-step verification before accessing the account. The airline’s cybersecurity department should also be on a very high alert level to spot any unusual connection attempts. Since the airline stores the vulnerable personal data of each passenger, this data must be strictly protected.
The third threat to passengers is to provide the sensitive data not to the actual airline website, but to mirror the websites of scammers or some other online scam service. How to avoid this? There are a number of ways including memorizing the spelling of the airline’s website and checking it once you are on the website, not to buy from some online ticket aggregators you don’t know, and always check if the connection is secure (there should be a small lock to the left in the address field).
However, online check-in can present some risks, but it is also wrong to think that if you check-in offline at the airport, scammers have no chance of stealing your personal data. Many boarding passes, which careless passengers leave on the plane or elsewhere later, can be used to hack the airline account and spend miles, or in some cases (if the credit card is linked to the airline account) even steal money.
So don’t think there is a quick fix for anything. Passengers should be careful, but also trust airlines if they request personal data online. On the other hand, airlines need to maintain a perfectly clear reputation and only trust highly respectable identity verification services that can help protect their passengers and data.
Hopefully a bright post-pandemic future will bring a new spike in global tourism and air travel.
About the Author
Dmitri Laush is CEO of GetID, part of the Checkin.com Group, the tech company that is reshaping the way people around the world register with online services.
DISCLAIMER: Biometric Update Industry Information is submitted content. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Biometric Update.
airports | aviation security | biometrics | digital identity | fraud prevention | GetID | identity verification | passenger handling | remote authentication