Emirates takes the biometric route to contactless travel in Dubai


Emirates passengers passing through Dubai International Airport can enroll in its biometric lane, and once that’s done, every passage through the airport after that can be virtually contactless.

More than 100,000 people have already done it, including me. At one of the airport’s check-in stations, a camera scans my face, specifically recording my unique retinas.

Camera iconThe Emirates biometric camera captures retinal and facial features. Credit: Stephen Scourfield/western australia

I accept the conditions for storing this information and I am on the biometric path.

As registrants walk towards a check-in counter, they are recognized and their contact details appear on a screen in front of them.

And after this contactless registration, I then head to the biometric tunnel. It’s not the usual Smart Gate, but a short walkway, in which you are scanned and recognized when you cross. This replaces the old passport control offices. Immigration requirements are met with a short walk.

Those who have access to the lounge also enter through a contactless door, which uses retinal and facial recognition.

Upon boarding the flight, a biometric gate recognizes passengers and they walk through – again, contactless.

The integrated biometric path at Dubai International Airport is part of Emirates’ commitment to continuous innovation – a huge, long-term project, whose timing has fallen perfectly as travelers who have endured the pandemic are more aware of contact reduction.

Ultimately, with widespread adoption, it should also improve passenger flow through the airport, with fewer document checks and reduced queues.

Adel Al Redha, Chief Operating Officer of Emirates, said: “It is more vital than before to use technology, implement products and introduce processes that not only focus on accelerating customers, but especially on health and safety during their trip. .

It has been rolled out at Dubai International Airport’s first business and economy class check-in counters in Terminal 3, but the project is expanding to the entire airport.

An Emirates biometric access door in a business class lounge.
Camera iconAn Emirates biometric access door in a business class lounge. Credit: Stephen Scourfield/western australia


The Smart Tunnel was a world first for passport control.

And it was a collaboration between Emirates and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners in Dubai.

An Emirates spokesperson points out: “Passengers simply walk through a tunnel and are ‘cleared’ by immigration authorities without human intervention or the need for a physical passport stamp.

“Emirates is also the first airline outside the United States to receive biometric boarding approval from US Customs Border Protection.

“Customers traveling from Dubai to Emirates destinations in the United States will be able to choose facial recognition technology at the gates.”


Some of the mobile recording ports.
Camera iconSome of the mobile recording ports. Credit: Provided

Emirates also announced on Tuesday the introduction of 25 mobile “check-in ports” at Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport. These portable units will be used in all check-in halls.

A spokesperson explains: “The agents at the check-in ports, which have been developed in the United Arab Emirates, will help check in customers, weigh luggage, tag them and also provide boarding passes. Once tagged, porters will place the baggage on a dedicated mat for each passenger’s aircraft. Each check-in port is equipped with a scale to weigh baggage and Emirates agents will also be present at each station to provide assistance and answer any questions passengers may have.

Passengers with two bags or less checking in Economy, Business and First Class will be encouraged to use the ports to help reduce wait times during peak periods.

Work to be contactless.  Baggage drop off at Dubai International Airport.
Camera iconWork to be contactless. Baggage drop off at Dubai International Airport. Credit: Stephen Scourfield/western australia


Emirates continues to commit to covering medical costs related to COVID-19 free of charge if passengers are diagnosed with COVID-19 during their journey.

Cover is provided with every ticket and is valid for 31 days from the time they complete the first leg of their journey. A spokesperson explains: “This means that Emirates customers can continue to benefit from the added assurance of this cover, even if they travel to another city after arriving at their Emirates destination.”


Emirates flies from Perth to Dubai, usually in less than 11 hours.

Services are initially in 777-300 scaled up to four per week. We are also awaiting the need for the return of the A380.

In Dubai, it connects to the world — around 120 destinations including, for example, London, Manchester and Birmingham. I think flying to the US East Coast (New York, Boston) via Dubai is a good tip.



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