SITA Lab has begun researching how blockchain might be used to improve how passengers are identified at various points in the journey.
The air industry technology specialist is working on a concept that sees passengers creating a 'token' on their mobile phone which stores biometric and other personal information.
The idea is that travellers scan their face and device as a means to verify their identity wherever they go.
Blockchain is used in the background to verify that the biometric data on the phone has not been changed.
The data stays with the traveller and therefore removes privacy concerns around authorities storing biometric data.
SITA Lab has worked on a demo with a company called ShoCard - a digital identity card platform which is built on blockchain data layer.
ShoCard chief executive Armin Ebrahimi describes blockchain as "a publicly shared databased that anyone can check for verification."
"This is the vision of tomorrow when it comes to identity. It's where we think the industry is going to go. It's all going to be defined a lot more by users who will expect to access things that matter to them by simply proving who they are. They will expect it to be fast, simple and secure and work in both the digital and physical world."
He adds that the beauty of using blockchain is that it was built to be secure and once details are put on it, they cannot be modified.
The initiative is part of an "identity community innovation programme" launched by SITA Lab to try to solve some of the issues around identifying travellers such as security and the passenger experience.
A number of projects have already begun under the programme including finding a solution to name matching between boarding passes and passports, enabling verification of visas to be self-service and ways to use mobile devices for landing cards and border control.
Renaud Irminger, director of SITA Lab, says industry standards will be needed for identification on mobile because of all the different equipment involved in airports as well as what technologies will be used - bluetooth, wifi, bar codes, NFC.
He adds that getting the airport infrastructure to communicate with the devices will also be an issue.
Both Irminger and Ebrahimi were on a panel discussing smarter identity management in air travel during the 2016 Air Transport Summit in Barcelona.
They, alongside other panellists say barriers to further development include collaboration between all parties.
Sean Farrell, head of portfolio management, government solutions for SITA, says people need to see developments in action and understand the benefits before it starts falling into place.
SITA chief technology officer Jim Peters says:
"The demo is something to show the stakeholders. We believe we can have mobile technology solve this problem. We believe we can use blockchain and get the feedback from the industry. It's about getting them to engage in a discussion."
He also says it won't be the air travel industry that solves this because many other industries, such as banking and, large companies, such as Amazon also want to work it out.
While research continues in the Lab, SITA is beginning to roll out Smart Path which uses a facial scan at the first touchpoint to enable travellers to move through the airport and board a plane just by presenting themselves for a biometric check along each step.
The technology has been trialled at Doha Airport.
More on blockchain's potential:
Airbnb acquires a team of blockchain techies
Blockchain technology has payments promise for travel companies
NB: Reporters travel and accommodation at the Air Transport Summit supported by SITA.
NB2: Image via Big Stock Photo