In a groundbreaking move, the UK is set to trial a new border control system that could eliminate the need for travellers to present their passports upon entering the country. The initiative aims to streamline the entry process, offering a more efficient and technologically advanced alternative to traditional passport checks.
The current eGates, initially hailed for providing a faster option at border control, have faced criticism due to frequent technological breakdowns, including issues such as passport rejection and gate malfunctions. The proposed system, utilizing facial recognition technology, intends to address these concerns by identifying travellers through a central database, eliminating the necessity for physical passports.
According to a report by The Times, the UK’s border force envisions a “much more frictionless facial recognition” system with the new eGates. Phil Douglas, the director-general of the UK Border Force, highlighted that the technology would allow for a seamless experience for travellers, who will still be required to queue but can bypass the traditional passport check by simply looking into the camera.
Reactions to the news have been mixed among travellers. Some welcome the prospect of a more reliable and efficient system. Amber Port, audience growth manager at Condé Nast Traveller, expressed support for automation, citing positive experiences at airports like Hartsfield Jackson in Atlanta. Port emphasized the benefits of a seamless airport experience, particularly for those with international connections.
However, some travellers remain cautious about the efficacy of the proposed system. Charley Ward, Commerce Writer at Condé Nast Traveller, acknowledged the convenience of eGates but voiced concerns about the allocation of resources. Ward suggested that efforts and funding might be better directed towards improving airport security gates, addressing the often cumbersome process of unpacking, dealing with liquids, and undergoing extensive security checks.
The new system is set to undergo a trial later this year at a single UK airport, with a limited number of travellers participating. Updates on the proposal and its trial will be provided as they become available.