back to article Trial for T5 mandatory biometrics kicks off at Heathrow

Quietly on Friday, Heathrow Airport recruited quantities of involuntary lab rats to test fingerprint-based security/traffic control system planned for Terminal 5. The luckless pioneers were selected at Terminal 1, where biometrics are now being deducted from any domestic passengers wishing to visit the international lounge. …


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  1. Paul

    Why do we always over-complicate everything?

    Why can't we simply do what most of the rest of the world does, and have seperate terminals/departure lounges for domestic and international flights? No amount of jiggery-pokery can ever have the same effectiveness as full segregation.

  2. censored

    Finding the most expensive solution....

    As you say, if passport and boarding card are checked at both security and the gate, there is no problem. But passports aren't always checked at security. This is only a loophole with online check-in, but it's still a big one. Cheap, easy solution? Boarding passes are only valid when shown with photo ID. At EVERY stage.

    At Gatwick, everyone is photographed as they enter security. Before you get to the gate, you show your boarding card and the photo stored for that card is checked. Also a quick and relatively easy check, but pointless since I'm supposedly carrying the gold-standard of ID.

  3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    This country is beginning to feel like a ghetto

    Yes, that is does.

  4. Nomen Publicus
    Dead Vulture

    Just more security theatre?

    History tells us that the most likely attacker will be someone that nobody has previously identified as a threat. This system won't discover such people. It may have some use in detecting ticket switching, but that is revenue protection not security.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Iris vs Fingerprints

    Equipment costs aside, the benefit of fingerprints presumably extends to other agencies potentially to be granted access, whereas an iris scan only has identification benefits?

  6. Mark

    "Security" BS

    This isn't for security, it is so that they can sell return tickets and if you only want one-way, you'll have to BUY one-way rather than sell the return stub to get back the difference plus a little extra.

    It's all about keeping profit levels up.

    This is why the airlines don't see this as an expensive version of security: it is, to them, a cheap version of post-sale control.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    No customs or immigration

    This amazed me when I flew in from Oz a few years ago. I arrived at Heathrow then was bussed across to a different terminal for a domestic flight to Manchester. On arrival there I was off the plane and out of the door. At no point did I pass through customs or immigration checks.

  8. A

    Just refuse

    You can (as I found out recently) simply refuse the (digital) picture at security and they (at least at Manchester) will escort you directly to the gate. This was fine by me, as I informed the staff I was one of the old fashioned type passengers who came to board a flight (not shop in support of the airport company).

  9. Paul Banacks

    @Why do we always over-complicate everything?

    Indeed. Why do we?

    Someone has to fund these IT companies selling "security solutions" to government officials with cloth between their ears!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It's all about SHOPPING

    Hence the Paris icon.

    It's about retail space. Split the lounge and therefore retail space in two (as is needed now due to the ticket swapping risk) and BAA makes less money from retail. If there's some way to mix domestic and international travellers, and therefore open up the full retail space to all passengers, BAA gets to increase rent etc on the shops. The way to do that is by securing the departure lounge with biometrics, so you know the person attached to a given boarding pass left on the associated flight (you don't even care who it is, just that they checked in and weren't in transit). If you look at the figures it works out that the cost of deploying such a (simple) system is more than made up for in having a terminal where all travellers can access the shops (increased rent) and the flexibility of any gate being usable by any flight (better use of capacity, more flights, greater number of gate charges paid to BAA). BAA wouldn't even think about it unless there was a good business case. Also, this idea has been pursued by IATA for a number of years (SPT) and is very likely to be deployed in many international airports in time.

    There are other approaches, such as having better security at each gate (which is done in other locations) but this tends to cost the airport operator, i.e. BAA, more money.

  11. David Neil

    So let me get this straight...

    If I'm stuck in terminal 1 on a wet saturday I don't have to stick to one crappy WH Smiths, i can wander through to the international lounge and splurge my hard earned on union jack ties and overpriced shortbread as well?

    If so I'll be glad to see the back of that rancid muck they call cofee down in the UK & Ireland lounge.

    Poison - if you've tasted what they call an espresso you'll understand

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Our travel dept tells me it is TERMINAL 1 - who is correct?

    Hmm we just had this internal company bulletin saying it is TERMINAL 1 - who is correct?

    As follows:

    BAA is introducing a common departure lounge that allows International and domestic customers to use the same space and facilities airside in London Heathrow Terminal 1.

    Customers transferring onto a UK domestic flight will be required to use the common departure lounge.

    Customers commencing their domestic journey at London Heathrow Terminal 1 will continue to proceed through the usual route.

    Who is affected?

    All customers transferring through London Heathrow Terminal 1 onto a UK domestic flight with any airline.

    What happens at boarding?

    As the customers proceed to board their flight in the domestic area, they will be asked to verify their biometrics at the point of entry.

    After this point, only domestic customers will be mixing together. Verification requires the passenger to present their boarding card and

    represent their fingers to allow the guard to ensure that it is the same customers that presented at biometric capture.

    What happens if a passenger refuses to have their biometric captured?

    If a passenger refuses to have their biometric captured, they will be required to land themselves through the international channel, proceed through Terminal 1

    up to the departures level where they will rejoin the departures process as a direct departing customer. From here they will proceed to the domestic departure lounge.


    Friday 01 Feb 2008 to 26 March 2008

  13. Michael

    re "Security" BS

    I take it they wont be doing long haul flights from stanstead soon then? eh?

    Ryanair's share price could use a boost .Oh , and by the way... when is the pilot going to be put into this security loop? I'd like to see some pilots kicking some chavs off the malaga flights.

  14. Martin Budden
    Dead Vulture

    deducted, or measured?

    " Terminal 1, where biometrics are now being deducted from any domestic passengers wishing to visit the international lounge"


    Owwww! He cut my fingers off!!!


    Arrrghhhh! My eyeeeessss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (the bleeding and eyeless icon, obviously)

  15. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: deducted, or measured?

    Deducted. And in taking the so-called 'digital photograph' of you, they are of course stealing your soul.

  16. PH

    No Future

    "God save the queen

    The fascist regime

    They made you a moron

    Potential H-bomb"

    Glad I migrated to Oz!

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