Eurostar speeds up boarding with new contactless check-in

Boarding at Eurostar’s busy London hub will be quicker and easier thanks to new contactless border checks.

Ever been stuck in an hours-long Eurostar queue at London St Pancras station?

That tiresome experience could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new contactless check-in system.

Rolled out today (18 July), the ‘SmartCheck’ system uses facial biometric data to replace the manual UK exit checks. This is the first time a train company has adopted biometric face verification.

“SmartCheck in St Pancras International station is a solution for a faster and seamless check-in experience,” says Eurostar Group’s CEO, Gwendoline Cazenave.

For now it is just available to Eurostar’s Business Premier and Carte Blanche passengers.

How does Eurostar’s biometric check-in work?

With SmartCheck, Eurostar passengers can bypass the UK exit check.

Before travelling, passengers who opt in to the service must scan their passport and face alongside their tickets on the SmartCheck app – the biometric solution provider behind the system.

On reaching the station, they will then be able to use the dedicated SmartCheck corridor with its walk-past facial biometric checkpoint.

This contactless, ticketless process replaces the existing check-in at gates and the manual UK border exit check.

Passengers will still need to complete baggage inspection and the manual passport check through French border control.

When should you arrive at St Pancras for the Eurostar?

Eurostar advises standard ticket holders to arrive at St Pancras 90 minutes before their scheduled departure.

Business Premier travellers are typically told to arrive 45 to 60 minutes before departure, though SmartCheck is likely to reduce the time needed at the station.

Since Brexit, queues at the busy London hub have been known to take upwards of two hours, forcing Eurostar to sell fewer tickets.

It is hoped the new system will help curb queues and slash travel times for Business Premier and Carte Blanche passengers.

“Providing a seamless station experience to our customers is a priority for Eurostar,” says Cazenave. “We continue looking for solutions to increase capacity in stations and simplify the passengers’ flows.”

It is unclear if or when contactless check-in will be made available to Standard and Standard Premier ticket holders.

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