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United Kingdom

Why hipster beards are holding you up at the airport: Trendy face fuzz blamed for long queues

Hipster beards could be the difference between you making or missing your flight, a new study has found.

The study, completed by UK facial recognition specialists, has looked into ePassport terminals at airports and why passengers are failing their border control checks and banking up airport queues.

Before using an ePassport terminal, passengers are required to remove any hats, glasses and other items before being scanned to ensure they can be read using Smart Gates facial recognition technology and allowed entry into the country.

However, some additions on a person's face cannot be so simply removed, with beards, piercings, tattoos and other inclusions making it difficult for scanners to identify travelers with the person in their passport photo.

A new study has shown that hipster beards may cause you to miss your flight because facial recognition scanners cannot identify the person (stock photo)

Tattoos, piercings, plastic surgery and other additions can falter facial recognition technology

This is causing severe delays with passengers repeatedly trying to use the new technology and failing, before queuing up multiple times in different queues and putting themselves and other passengers at risk of missing their flights.

Nimesh Shah, who completed the study, said that even with the advanced technology, mistakes can still be made when recognising passengers.

Smart Gate scanners (pictured) use facial recognition technology to identify passengers

'Facial recognition is no doubt one of the most important developments in airport security in recent years,' Mr Shah said. 'But it’s important to remember that errors can still be made, particularly if a passenger’s passport photo is particularly old.'

One percent of people fail these tests, with other reasons for failure including plastic surgery, weight gain or loss, tiredness, age, and even being hungover.

A list of potential attributes (pictured) that can falter the Smart Gate scanners

Your mood, alertness and physical condition can also play a factor in being recognised by the technology.

Experts are asking travelers who have old or different looking passport photos to skip the ePassport terminals altogether, and check in the old fashioned way at the border control desk.

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