Your Beard Might Be Slowing Down Airport Security

If there's no beard in your passport photo, don't bring one to the airport

Sir, your hipster beard is holding up the line
Sir, your hipster beard is holding up the line
Unsplash
By Kayla Kibbe / July 19, 2019 9:58 am

If you’re traveling outside the U.S. this summer, you may want to consider shaving first.

A new study found that passengers are failing security checks at ePassport gates thanks to beards, weight gain and anything else that may alter facial appearance.

The U.K.’s ePassport Smart Gates are supposed to speed up airport security using facial recognition technology and eliminating the need for face-to-face interaction with border officials. Unfortunately, when passengers don’t look like their passport photos, the system can end up having the opposite effect.

While passengers are reminded to remove hats, glasses and scarves before entering the Smart Gates in order to avoid hold ups, other less controllable physical factors can cause the facial recognition technology to fail. Any developments since your passport photo was taken, including age, new tattoos, piercings, weight gain or loss, and even tiredness and hangovers can alter your appearance to the point of being unrecognizable at the Smart Gates.

“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,” Nimesh Shah, the conductor of the study, told Escape, adding that particularly old passports are especially likely to cause delays. “It’s crucial that passengers are as prepared as possible to avoid creating delays for their fellow flyers.”

Whether that means shaving, getting a new passport or just foregoing the Smart Gates and interacting with an actual human who can tell that you’re still the same person behind your hipster beard, please get it taken care of before you head to the airport.

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