Delta Is Testing the First Facial Recognition Check-in Process for Domestic Flights

Got face?

Delta A350

Courtesy of Delta

Starting this month, domestic Delta passengers traveling out of Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport will have the option to go contactless at check-in. In partnership, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Delta have launched the first biometric digital ID verification for domestic flights.

For this, passenger digital IDs are constructed from your TSA Pre-Check number and passport, plus something no one should ever leave home without—your face.

Using the new biometric ID verification method is not mandatory, but it does come with attractive perks to court travelers. For one, there will be a dedicated TSA Pre-Check line for travelers using the new digital ID process with expansion to dedicated bag drop and boarding perks in early 2021. It also offers travelers a seamless curb-to-gate experience that is completely contactless, a huge plus in the COVID-19 era of travel.

In addition to several other airlines, including British Airways, Delta has already been providing a facial recognition ID option for international travelers. However, this is the first time it’s been tested for domestic travel.

“When it comes to pulling forward the future of Delta’s customer experience, we think big, start small and scale fast, letting innovation lead the way as we continuously listen to customer feedback,” Bill Lentsch, Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Offer said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only deepened the importance of providing a touchless experience for our customers. We plan to expand curb-to-gate facial recognition and digital ID beyond the Detroit test so that all of our customers can enjoy a seamless, touchless travel experience across our network.

Not ready to completely let your identity be at the hands of technology? No problem. The program, now in its testing stages, will be optional. Passengers who want to stick to what they know can still bring hard copies of documents and check-in as usual.

Passengers who are curious about what the future might look like or want to buzz through the process a little faster will need to do a few things to get started: securely store your passport information and TSA Pre-Check number (so, sign up for that if you haven’t yet) in your SkyMiles profile on the Fly Delta app; actively opt in to the program via the app at check-in; and, once at the airport, look into the cameras located at bag drop, the security checkpoint, and the boarding gate—no physical ID or boarding pass needed.

“Once a customer reaches a camera at the airport, their image is encrypted, stripped of biographic information, and sent to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facial biometric matching service via a secure channel,” Delta explains. “CBP then verifies a customer’s identity against the CBP image gallery and sends back an indicator to allow the customer to proceed.”

For what it’s worth, Delta states that the digital process does not currently store any biometric data, “nor does it plan to.” 

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