Bag tags, iris scan could soon come to U.S. airports

Just days before Christmas, Reagan National Airport is already teeming with travelers. For frequent fliers, the question isn't if they'll wait - it's how long?

"Saving time is important, but consistency is probably more important. I need to know what to expect when I get to the airport," said John McMahon, a frequent flier and resident of Minnesota.

That's where Mark Cohn of Unisys Federal Systems comes in.

Cohn, who works as the chief technology officer, said, "We build systems for airports and airlines that allow them to check in passengers with a variety of new methods.

Unisys Federal Systems is unveiling a technology that would allow travelers to print bag tags at home, saving time and making travel more predictable for passengers.

"The idea is that you spend less time on the road, and more time doing what you want to do," Cohn explained.

It comes at no cost for fliers and is a money-saver for airlines. Fewer employees would be needed for bag checks; Cohn says that could save airlines millions of dollars.

"One of the nice things about this is that it requires no change to the airport infrastructure," Cohn added.

Unisys is also debuting 3-D facial recognition, eye scan and fingerprint technologies. The idea is to have frequent fliers submit their unique identifiers then verify those biometrics at security check points.

Tami Thompson of Atlanta said, "Why not? We live in a world where we want to be as efficient as we can. I think it's the wave of the future anyway."

If some of these programs sound familiar, they probably are. In the early 2000s, many airlines and airports explored similar methods, but those efforts were put on hold after 9/11.

Cohn said the bag tag technology could be adopted by U.S. airlines within days.