Digital ID expected to be the next leap for more convenient air travel


The use of digital identification by passengers would help streamline the boarding process at airports, according to many aviation experts, even as statistics show travellers expressing dissatisfaction with current airport operations like baggage drop, security, airport transfer and immigration control.

People from the aviation and travel industry were speaking at a conference hosted by online travel service provider, Group, on Wednesday.

A digital ID would allow people to store their personal data on their device of choice to facilitate access to digital services, such as identity verification and electronic payment systems.

Air travel passengers can present a digital ID from their digital wallet, which may be developed by state agencies.

Kat Morse, IATA’s senior manager of innovation and partnership

“A digital ID enables passengers to selectively share preference data to airlines and online travel agencies to obtain personalised offers and facilitate their journey,” the International Air Transport Association senior manager of innovation and partnership Kat Morse said at the conference. 

Henk van der Velde, Group’s regional director Group’s regional director, Henk van der Velde, said differences in interoperability and airport procedures also posed challenges in implementing digital identification. 

“Creating trust among users is important if providers want them to trust in their digital solutions,” he said.

To accelerate digital transformation in the aviation sector, experts advised digital service providers to ensure consumer protection, build trust, keep data updated and to not be afraid of innovation.

Gokhan Dolek, aviation development manager at Istanbul Airport

Gokhan Dolek, aviation development manager at Istanbul Airport in Turkey, expects digital solutions to replace the traditional ways of airport operations, and predicts digitalisation will change the aviation industry. 

“If we do not adopt digital solutions, we cannot create difference [in our service],” he said.

According to group’s statistics, travellers were satisfied with travel agencies’ booking and travel optimisation, as well as arrival at airports. They were, however, not satisfied with airport operations like baggage drop, security, airport transfer and immigration control. 

Thailand’s leap towards digital ID 

Thailand started allowing air travel passengers to use their digital ID for verification when boarding domestic flights last year, according to the government.

This move follows the rollout of the D.DOPA mobile application, known as ThaID, a Thai digital ID verification mobile application developed by the Department of Provincial Administration. 

Apart from identity authentication, the application enables users to access government services like online tax payment, public health service and vehicle registration booking. 

This is in line with Section 14 of the Digital Public Service Act, which focuses on encouraging the use of digital ID instead of physical documents.

Thailand’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) came into effect in 2022 to prevent the misuse of personal information. Under the PDPA, websites of governments and businesses worldwide are required to seek permission before collecting, using or revealing the personal data of anyone in Thailand.

The Digital Economy and Society Ministry is in the first phase of promoting digital ID among citizens and business entities in a bid to drive Thailand towards the digital era.

To achieve the goal, the ministry has implemented strategies that include encouraging people to access government and private services online, reducing complexities when applying for digital ID and implementing standards on data exchange between government and private agencies.