Iberia Introduces Facial Recognition In Madrid

Spanish flag carrier Iberia is taking part in a facial recognition software trial at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport. The pilot project will allow passengers at the airport’s Terminal 4 to pass through security and boarding gates using just their faces.

An Iberia jet
The biometric security system will only be available on two Iberia routes. Photo: Bene Riobó via Flickr

Today, Iberia announced its participation in a pilot project which will test the viability of facial recognition systems for use in airport security gates. Using the new system, Iberia passengers flying from Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport’s Terminal 4 will be able to use a biometric profile to pass through the various stages of security.

The pilot project is a collaborative effort between a number of different parties. Iberia is joined by Aena, the owner of Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport’s Terminal 4 and the database which will store passengers’ biometric information, and IECISA, Gunnebo and Thales who all supply different pieces of technology for the project.

How do passengers sign up?

The facial recognition pilot project will only be available for Iberia passengers traveling from Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport Terminal 4 to either Austria or Brussels. Passengers who are interested in taking part in the pilot project can either register at kiosks inside Terminal 4 or via the Iberia app.

Passengers then need to take a picture of their photographic ID, as well as a video selfie which enables the system to analyze their facial structure. Once this has been done, the biometric information is linked to their boarding pass and they can pass through the biometric security control.


Iberia has set out a few prerequisites for anyone wishing to participate in the project. These include being of age, having a v. 3.0 Spanish National Identity Document (DNI) issued since 2015 and having an Android OS phone with an NFC reader.

Why is Iberia taking part in the pilot project?

Iberia has recently focused its attention on new technologies as part of its digital transformation program. Last month Iberia released its Spanish language WhatsApp passenger support service as part of the program.

Discussing the new facial recognition pilot project, Iberia’s Chairman and CEO, Gabriel Perdiguero, said:

“Facial recognition and the recording of biometric profiles via our application are a part of our project of connected operations and will enable our customers to have a better experience in T4, which is the main reason behind Iberia’s commitment to innovation.”

Iberia biometric
Iberia hopes to improve the passenger experience. Photo: Iberia

Although the facial recognition system will only be available to passengers flying on two Iberia routes, it could lay the groundwork for a wider roll-out if successful. According to Iberia, the project is the first biometric project of its kind, which allows “passengers to identify themselves via a mobile device app instead of appearing at a physical location.”

Given the sensitive nature of biometric data and passenger information, it will undoubtedly be of paramount importance that the data is stored and transferred securely.

Simple Flying has reached out to Iberia for clarification on how it intends to ensure its passengers’ biometric data is held securely and will update the article once we know more.