My experience trying out Facial Recognition at Hyderabad Airport

Earlier this month, Hyderabad announced they were conducting trials for the eventual launch of facial recognition to be used across the airport. I wanted to check out this live in action, as the first facial recognition implementation in India, so I booked myself a ticket to fly to Hyderabad to check this out live in action. However, as it turned out, just yesterday, Bangalore announced a full-scale trial along with Vistara as well (more on that later).

The facial recognition system implemented is developed with equipment from NEC, and is a very simplistic implementation to start. Like mentioned in our earlier post, there are two outposts for the facial recognition system registration, one on each side of the airport entrance which work from 8 am to 8 pm every day.

I walked over to the kiosk near Gate 1 for enrolment. Here, a couple of service agents as well as a couple of CISF personnel were stationed.

Facial Recognition at Hyderabad Airport


I was asked to present a photo ID proof, which could have been your PAN Card, Aadhaar Card, Passport or some other proof which establish your identity. I presented my PAN Card to the agents. They punched in my name, email address, phone number and PAN Card number into the kiosk and took a picture. On the other side of the kiosk, the CISF personnel physically verified my photo identification and signed off on the identity verification.

Immediately, I received an email with the DigiYatra ID for me. While the email calls it my DigiYatra ID, I am not sure if this will work pan-India for me or just at Hyderabad airport.

Next, I arrived at the fast track gate which was now equipped with a camera for facial recognition. Here, my face pulled up my identity, and from there on, I needed to link my boarding pass with my identity still. So, I had to scan my boarding pass from my phone to have the gate open and from there the CISF again had a look at my picture and ID to be able to authenticate myself as being a bonafide passenger.

Then, at the hand baggage security screening, I had to again scan my boarding pass. However, at the security check step, where I walked through the metal detector and was then frisked with a hand held detector, I did not have to pull up my boarding pass, and I was able to just use my face as my boarding pass here.

From here on, I needed to use my boarding pass to access the lounge, as well as to open the boarding gates.  Here is my excitement turning into disappointment quick.

In my experience, this trial then is to only check if facial identification works or not in the first place. Without linking it to the Departure Control System of any airline, the system is bound to not be able to make a seamless assessment of how things are going to proceed from entry to security to boarding, and hence is not the passenger experience that is desired to be developed for the passengers.

Here was GMR’s reaction to my views:

I sure do hope that the full system rollout is not going to take long after this then. The first round of implementation would be for domestic passengers, and perhaps stay that way for the time being. For international passengers, the facial recognition system will need to talk to the immigration systems which will be a while away as of now and perhaps out of the ambit of DigiYatra.

Have you tried out the facial recognition systems of Bangalore or Hyderabad Airport and checked out how the whole experience works end to end for you?

About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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