Delta Launches New Facial Recognition Technology for Security Lines With TSA

Delta's new "digital identity experience" can also be used to check a bag.

Delta Air Lines is expanding its partnership with the Transportation Security Administration with its use of facial recognition technology making getting through airport security even quicker.

Walking past TSA security at Delta airlines
Courtesy of Delta Air Lines

The airline is implementing a "digital identity experience" at its hub in Atlanta, offering customers with TSA PreCheck and a Delta SkyMiles number the chance to pass through security and board their flight without having to pull out a boarding pass or their ID.

The Delta TSA digital id
Courtesy of Delta Air Lines

Delta started trialing the technology for international travel more than five years ago and it was first rolled out in Detroit earlier this year for domestic flights. In 2018, the airline launched the first fully biometric terminal in Atlanta.

"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," Byron Merritt, Delta's vice president of brand experience design, said in a statement. "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."

Beyond seamlessly getting through security checkpoints, facial recognition technology can also be used to check a bag.

To utilize the technology, customers must store their passport information and either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry Known Traveler Number in their SkyMiles profile in Delta's app and then opt-in at check-in. When customers go to pass through security, their image is taken, encrypted, and sent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection's facial biometric matching service, according to the airline.

Delta said participating in the program is voluntary and the airline does not save or store any biometric data.

"TSA appreciates working with industry stakeholders to design, build and test innovative technologies that enhance security and improve the passenger experience," the agency's requirements and capabilities analysis acting assistant administrator Keith Goll said in a statement. "We continue to work ceaselessly to leverage the latest technology and partnerships to ensure that the traveling experience of our PreCheck passengers is as seamless, convenient and secure as possible."

Delta said the program will first be available in Atlanta's South Security Checkpoint in the coming weeks before expanding to select bag drop and boarding areas before the end of the year.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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