Delta launching facial recognition tech trial at Atlanta airport

A facial recognition program being launched by Delta is intended to speed up the check-in...
A facial recognition program being launched by Delta is intended to speed up the check-in process.
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 8:31 AM EDT
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(CNN) - With more people flying, airport travelers are once again seeing delays, cancelations and long lines, but new technology could cut down waiting times at security checkpoints.

For the first time, your next flight could be unlocked by facial recognition technology, starting at bag check, going through security and all the way to the gate.

The partnership between Delta and the Transportation Security Administration aims to save passengers time as people are flooding back to airports “and really hopefully reduce stress and increase the speed at which people traverse to the airport,” said Ranjan Goswami of Delta.

Goswami said bag check, which typically takes 2 minutes and 30 seconds, is down to 30 seconds with the facial recognition technology.

He said the process of verifying a traveler’s identity at the TSA checkpoint is down to only six seconds with the new technology.

“I think the timing could not be more perfect, in many ways, because you’re right, more and more regular travelers are coming back to travel,” Goswami said.

The trial will start at Delta’s busiest hub, Atlanta, next month ahead of the busy holiday travel season, at first only for those in Delta’s Frequent Flier program who also have TSA Precheck.

Passport and visa photos in a federal database are compared with your live photo.

The TSA insists that file is immediately destroyed, upping security from cyber threats and hacks.

“We’ve definitely taken privacy considerations into account the whole way,” said Jessica Mayle, a TSA spokesperson. “If somebody does not want to participate, they do not have to opt in and participate. They really have that choice that they want to have the experience.”

American Airlines is also trying facial recognition at its Dallas-Fort Worth terminal lounges.

Industry experts think using the technology from the moment travelers arrive at the airport could cut the time they spend waiting in half.

“If we see TSA get that kind of increase in their productivity, long airport security lines could be a thing of the past,” travel industry expert Henry Harteveldt said.

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