Why your hipster beard could cause delays at UK airports this summer

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Have you checked your face

If you are planning a summer holiday abroad we have some advice for you. Check your face.

According to new research your hipster beard is just one of the common reasons why you may fail the checks at the UK border when using ePassport gates at British airports. Your well tended facial hair could contribute to the delays that amount to almost 380 days over the course of a year.


In essence if what you look like on the day is different to your passport mug shot it could be a problem. Even facial piercings, weight loss or weight gain could be enough to fail this test, causing delays and a potentially embarrassing walk back to visit a Border Force officer.

According to figures obtained from the UK Border Force a staggering half a million arrivals into the UK are believed to have failed the egate check in the last year alone. These figures could increase now that seven more countries including the USA and Australia have now been able to use these gates since early June.

More surprising reasons for a failed egate check include mood, alertness and ‘physical condition’ according to findings by Matt Lewis, research director at cybersecurity and risk mitigation expert, NCC Group. Some passengers have even reported failing these checks after a few too many beers the night before a flight.

Nimesh Shah, Managing Director at Feel Good Contacts, said:

“With the announcement that additional passengers from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA are now able to use the ePassport gates at UK airports, the waiting times for ePassport gates looks only set to rise in the coming months. It’s therefore crucial that passengers are as prepared as possible to avoid creating delays for their fellow fliers.

“Based on the figures from this research* and the assumption that a failed check could cause up to a minute delay – thought it could be more – this equates to an overall delay of 546,800 minutes. This equates to 9,113 hours or just under 380 days per year. Who knew hipster beards would cause so much damage to our holidays?!

“Facial recognition is no doubt one of the most important developments in airport security in recent years, but it’s important to remember that errors can still be made, particularly if a passenger’s passport photo is particularly old!”

Kevin Smith, Head of Technology at facial recognition specialist Credas, adds:

“Improvements in technology now mean that around just 1% of passengers fail these tests, however, this does mount up when you consider the sheer amount of passengers passing through the terminals of the UK’s airports on a daily basis.

“While beards and facial hair in general are typically the most common causes of failure, other factors such as significant weight loss or gain can also have an impact on the technology’s ability to find a match between a passenger’s passport photo and face.”

TIP: If you’re stuck in a long queue after a long flight at the ePassport gate check, be mindful when it comes to choosing a line – you may want to avoid the hipster beard if you want a swift passage through after a long flight.

You have been warned.

Research compiled by www.feelgoodcontacts.com





By Sharron Livingston

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