Delta first introduced the technology in 2018 at its headquarters at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Detroit is one of its hubs, acquired when Delta purchased Northwest Airlines in 2008.
Facial recognition is not mandatory nor for everyone. Provided in partnership with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the technology is only available for TSA PreCheck members who have a passport number, according to the announcement. It is also voluntary, so passengers can opt out of the service.
Passengers who choose to use the service won’t have to show their physical ID or boarding pass to get through security. Instead, they just have to look into a camera and their photograph will verify their identity, along with their other passport and TSA PreCheck information.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has only deepened the importance of providing a touchless experience for our customers,” Bill Lentsch, Delta’s chief customer experience officer, said in a statement. “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.”
When that happens, it will make Detroit “the first airport to have a facial recognition option from curb to gate for TSA PreCheck customers traveling domestically,” Delta’s announcement said.
Delta said that passengers’ images “will be encrypted, stripped of biographic information and sent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) facial biometric matching service via a secure channel.”
The airline added it does not save or store any biometric data and it has no plans to do so.
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