Bye-bye Boarding Pass: Delta Will Offer Curb-to-Gate Facial Recognition

by John Harper

This is the future. Starting later this year, your face will be all you need to catch an international flight at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Delta Air Lines sent out a news release Thursday about end-to-end biometric facial recognition that will allow passengers to access all parts of the airport, and board flights, using just their face.

The airline is partnering with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, meaning facial recognition will be used at every stage of passage.

Delta AIr Lines Facial Recognition Biometric

Delta has experiemented with facial recognition devices at several of its hubs, here Detroit Metropolitan (DTW). Image by Delta Air Lines

Specifically, your face will be good enough to:

  • Check in at the self-service kiosks in the lobby
  • Drop checked baggage at the counters in the lobby
  • Serve as identification at the TSA checkpoint
  • Board a flight at any gate in Terminal F
  • Go through immigration processing for international travelers arriving into the U.S.

Passengers on Delta and SkyTeam partners Air France, Aeromexico and KLM will be able to use the biometric facial recognition service at baggage check, TSA security checkpoints, boarding and customs at Terminal F in Atlanta.

The system requires passengers to enter all passport information at online checkin. Those using the facial recognition system for the first time will need to have their picture made upon arriving at the airport.

The travelling public is nowhere near doing away with passports, of course, and travelers will still need to carry their passport to clear any other airport on the planet. Still, Delta brags that the biometric facial scanning will save passengers an average of about 9 minutes, though I’d imagine that savings could be much greater when ID and immigration lines are long in Atlanta.

Facial recognition technology isn’t unique to Atlanta, although Hartsfield will be the first place its implemented from curb to gate. A U.S. Customs facial recognition camera busted a Congolese man using a fake passport at Washington Dulles Airport last month.

Hong Kong International Airport also announced plans to deploy curb-to-gate facial recognition technology in “two to three years” according to the South China Morning Post.

Camera shy? Don’t fret, Atlanta passengers will have the opportunity to use the old  eyeball and paper method if they wish. It might be a bit more difficult to avoid those border prection cameras, though.

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