Better airport security, shorter passenger waiting times – We can have both

Gone are the days of making a trade-off between security and speed when it comes to processing passengers. In the emerging new generation of technologically empowered airports, better security and faster processing times are no longer an “either/or” choice, they are now mutually supportive.

Spending surge on security around the world’s leading airports

The most recent estimates from aviation industry expert analysts suggest that the airport security global market size will reach US$26 billion by 2030. Driving the expansion of the market is the widening diversity of threat types – ranging from drone and cyberattacks to more conventional concealment of explosives and firearms – but also the need to provide security that enhances the passenger experience, rather than compromising it.

As leading airports race to achieve (or retain) travel hub status, they understand that the expectations of today’s air travellers are higher than ever. Nobody wants their personal safety compromised, but neither are they willing to put up with unnecessarily long waiting times shuffling between one queue to another before they can relax and begin to enjoy their travel experience to the fullest.

Here are just a few of the airports that are proactively introducing advanced technologies and new practices that help boost security without adversely impacting on processing times or the invasiveness of security measures overall.

Exemplar Airports with next-gen security setups

Dubai International Airport (DXB): As the world’s busiest traveller hub, DXB needs to get the security/service formula just right. Security improvements are a central part of its planned $2.7 billion revamp occurring over the next 5-7 years. DXB is already introducing the latest generation of 3D scanners that mean passengers no longer have to remove liquids or personal electronic devices from hand luggage when passing through security. Additionally, the introduction of facial print biometrics means that passengers can access any checkpoints, business and first-class lounges, and boarding without showing any travel documents. Preloaded identity forms connected to the passenger’s facial print means that fumbling for tickets, passports and other ID is consigned to history.

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH): Playing host to a key scene in the latest film in the Mission Impossible franchise, AUH has been putting its best foot forward by integrating a suite of AI video analytics solutions that aid security and operational efficiency across the airport. The system is capable of optimising queue management and crowd control by analysing video feeds to determine queue lengths and potential bottlenecks. It also provides security staff with the means to quickly and accurately identify unattended baggage, tightening security while cutting down on false alarms.

John F. Kennedy International airport (JFK): Currently undergoing a huge $19 billion overhaul, JFK has begun to test its biometric passenger and baggage checkpoints, as well as airport management systems, in preparation for the completion of the New Terminal One (NTO) project in 2026. The vision for NTO is to give passengers a biometrics-based security experience that minimises and in places eliminates paperwork, queuing, removal of clothing or hand baggage items, as well as any additional checks beyond the initial biometric scan and single scan for baggage.

A whole new airport security architecture

To simultaneously achieve two crucial ends, greater passenger processing speed and security, future-facing airports are deploying the latest in security technologies while rethinking the very structure and layout of their passenger security processing protocols. Providers such as Saudi Airport Exhibition exhibitor Middle East Tasks Company (METCO) are at the forefront of integrating advanced security scanners, detectors, robots, smart cameras, and more, all in the name of creating security setups that boost efficiency alongside convenience.
The ultimate goal is for airport security to be effective yet invisible, where passengers are greenlit for travel without having to queue for a single moment. Reliably providing this outcome to millions of passengers may be some years away from realisation, but leading airports have the building blocks in place already.