Paperless boarding using biometrics coming to domestic flights

Indian passengers on domestic flights may soon be able to board without travel documents using a “DigiYatra” (DY) based on biometrics, after a technical team made up of representatives from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the four private metro airports finalized its format.

Travellers can obtain an optional DY ID from aviation ministry Airsewa portals, which were established in 2016 to handle grievances, by enrolling fingerprints and iris biometrics.
“We are soon going to launch an updated version of AirSewa portal for which tenders have been issued. AirSewa-II will have a link for Digi-Yatra,” AAI Chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra said. “Passenger will (individually) enrol themselves on this link to get a unique DY ID number. At the time of registration, they will give some ID proof like Aadhaar or four-five other things like driving licence. The details will be matched for verification.”

The first time the DY is used, the traveller will also need to present photo ID, but thereafter boarding will be processed with the airline ticket barcode or QR code or biometric verification. Public-private airports in Hyderabad and Bengaluru have already implemented similar processes, and the AAI has selected the first three airports which the system will be rolled out to.

Perhaps most noteworthy about the DY scheme is the absence of Aadhaar in the process, except for use in enrollment. This may have been decided on due to the uncertainty of Aadhaar’s legal status pending a decision from India’s Supreme Court. SITA Vice President for the Indian Subcontinent, Eastern and Southern Africa, Maneesh Jaikrishna recently suggested his company’s Smart Path technology could enable paperless air travel within India, possibly in combination with Aadhaar.