- Delta Air Lines is launching facial recognition technology at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
- The program will be offered to Delta’s TSA PreCheck passengers traveling domestically from Atlanta.
- The technology will allow passengers to check luggage, pass through security, and board the aircraft hands-free.
The US is reopening its borders to fully vaccinated travelers on November 8 and airlines are preparing for the busiest holiday season since the pandemic.
To quicken the curb-to-gate process at its hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Air Lines has partnered with the Transportation Security Administration to create an all-new airport experience for domestic travelers.
In November, Delta will roll out a one-of-a-kind facial recognition technology dedicated to domestic travel out of its Atlanta hub, building upon its biometric systems already in place for international passengers.
The facial recognition program allows Delta’s TSA PreCheck passengers to use a dedicated bag drop lobby, pass through the security checkpoint, and board their aircraft all using their “digital identity,” allowing eligible travelers to move through the airport hands-free and device-free.
The digital identity is made up of the passenger’s SkyMiles member number, passport number, and Known Traveler Number, which is received after enrolling in TSA PreCheck.
“We want to give our customers more time to enjoy travel by unlocking simplified, seamless, and efficient experiences from end to end,” said Delta’s vice president of brand experience design Byron Merritt. “The launch of Atlanta’s express lobby and bag drop is the latest step in our commitment to listening and innovating for our customers.”
The new facial recognition system starts at Delta’s unique bag drop lobby, which is the first of its kind and set up with automated, self-serve bag drop machines. The lobby is located next to the ride-share drop-off area at the lower level of the Domestic South Terminal.
To participate in the program, TSA PreCheck passengers must save their digital identity information to their profile and opt-in on the Fly Delta app when checking into their flight. This enables them to use any touchless facial-scan kiosk in the bag drop lobby.
According to Delta, once a passenger looks at the camera, “their image is encrypted, stripped of biographic information and sent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) facial biometric matching service via a secure channel.”
Once the CBP verifies the traveler’s identity, it will send a message back to the kiosk allowing the customer to continue. It will also print a bag tag for them to attach to their luggage.
The traveler can then drop their bag on the conveyor belt. According to Delta, the process quickens the time it takes to check a bag by more than two minutes by allowing passengers to skip the line at the main check-in area.
After dropping off luggage, passengers can make the short walk to the domestic security checkpoint and use facial recognition to pass through, negating the need to show a boarding pass or ID.
Passengers will use the dedicated TSA PreCheck line and maintain the benefits of the trusted traveler program, like keeping liquids and laptops in carry-on bags.
At the gate, the customer will scan their face for the last time to board the plane, with no boarding pass required. In Atlanta, gates T1-T8 will be the first to offer the facial recognition scan at Atlanta.
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport rolled out a similar program in February, with its dedicated bag drop lobby opening later this fall. Face-enabled boarding will be available at gates A10 and A12 at the airport.