Delta Air Lines Expands Facial Recognition Digital ID To Atlanta

Delta is expanding its digital identity experience to its home in Atlanta, Georgia. Domestic passengers of the carrier passing through its hub won’t have to show a paper boarding pass or physical ID when traveling through the airport.

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Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the United States’ busiest airport. Photo: Getty Images

The requirements

Those with TSA PreCheck membership and a Delta SkyMiles number can make the most of this introduction. Ultimately, the digital ID consists of a passenger’s passport number and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry Known Traveler Number. All fliers have to do is look at a camera to check in a bag, pass through security and hop on a plane.

The new equipment will be seen at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International’s South Security Checkpoint in the next few weeks before spreading to certain bag drop and boarding areas before 2022 hits.

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Participating passengers need to enter information and opt-in using the Fly Delta app. Photo: Delta Air Lines

The wider mission

This move follows on from Delta’s expansion of biometric digital ID testing for domestic travelers at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport early this year. The launch allows passengers to pass through Detroit’s Edward H. McNamara Terminal’s dedicated TSA PreCheck domestic checkpoint with a digital ID verified by facial recognition technology.

The domestic expansions this year follow on from Delta’s international travel facial recognition measures across the United States. Notably, Delta launched the first completely biometric terminal in Atlanta three years ago.

“The exclusive expansion of digital identity moves Delta one step closer to achieving our vision of creating a more personalized and fully connected travel journey,” shared Byron Merritt, Delta’s Vice President of Brand Experience Design, in a company statement this week.

“Our goal in turning pivotal moments like security and check-in into seamless experiences is to give time and focus back to the moments customers enjoy. Innovations like digital identity are implemented with the intention to transform the cohesive travel experience into a journey that our customers can truly look forward to.”

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Delta Biometric
Passengers can choose not to use facial recognition as the process is voluntary – nonetheless, the airline doesn’t save or store biometric data. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Industry motives

Aviation tech powerhouses such as SITA have been working intently with airlines to introduce robust biometric systems in the current climate. On the very basis of these measures, there are significant speed benefits. For instance, SITA’s Smart Path technology has helped over 400 passengers board an Airbus A380 within 20 minutes.

There was a notable facial recognition boarding trial launched at Newark Liberty International just a few months ago. Here, New York and New Jersey officials expressed that this tech is the future of boarding. This notion is backed by several industry stakeholders within the US and across the world.

Airlines were implementing touchless experiences at airports even before the pandemic. However, the global health crisis catalyzed the transformation, adding biosafety to security and efficiency benefits.

What are your thoughts about Delta Air Lines’ partnership with TSA to streamline check-in and security in Atlanta? Do you think that this is a good move by the airline? Let us know what you think of the initiative and its prospects in the comment section.