Delta expands use of facial recognition for boarding

Airlines says it is optional

Delta Air Lines, in partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is introducing biometric boarding at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) and Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).

Facial recognition boarding is starting at 49 new gates and all international flights at ATL Concourse E, MSP and SLC.

This means that passengers flying direct to an international destination on Delta and its partners can use facial recognition technology to board at these airports.

Delta says using the biometric boarding is optional. If passengers do not want to use the biometric system, they let a Delta gate agent know and board as they always have, using their boarding pass and passport.

Delta has produced a useful graphic showing how biometric technology works at its airports.

Gil West, Delta’s COO:

“We are already seeing improvements in satisfaction scores from customers moving through the airport in Atlanta. The expansion of facial recognition at boarding enables more customers to take advantage of this seamless, time-saving process – an important step as we implement facial recognition in our hubs across the country and define the experience for the industry. At Delta, we have the best people in aviation, and technology like this frees them up to spend more time helping our customers.”

Delta supplies some data from recent, third-party customer insight research at ATL Concourse F:

  • 70 percent found the curb-to-gate facial recognition experience appealing after moving through it at ATL F
  • 72 percent prefer facial recognition to standard boarding at ATL F
  • 93 percent of customers had no issue using the technology at boarding

Delta says that less than two percent of passengers opt out of the facial recognition and CBP has a match rate of more than 97 percent. Biometric boarding can save an average of nine minutes when boarding a widebody aircraft, or two seconds per passenger when compared with traditional boarding.

The expansion of the use of biometrics follows the launch of the first biometric terminal in the U.S., which built on several years of optional facial recognition boarding tests at ATL, DTW and JFK with CBP.

In addition, Delta has tested a self-service biometric bag drop at MSP for international passengers. Delta has also tested biometric boarding at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and has launched optional biometric check-in for all domestic Delta Sky Clubs.

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Delta (DL)