Delta expands biometric check-in for domestic travellers at Detroit Airport


Delta Air Lines passengers in Detroit can now use their passport number and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership as a digital ID.

In partnership with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Delta Air Lines is trialling a facial recognition option for domestic travellers at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

Travellers through the airport need a passport number and a TSA PreCheck membership to be eligible to participate in the programme. Facial recognition technology uses this information as a digital ID to confirm the traveller’s identity at airport touchpoints.

This capability will expand to bag drop and boarding in early 2021, making Detroit the first airport to have a facial recognition option from curb to gate for TSA PreCheck customers travelling domestically.

This builds on Delta’s existing facial recognition option for passengers travelling to an international destination.

“When it comes to pulling forward the future of Delta’s customer experience, we think big, start small and scale fast, letting innovation lead the way as we continuously listen to customer feedback,” said Bill Lentsch, Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only deepened the importance of providing a touchless experience for our customers. 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.”

Participation in the programme is optional, and Delta says that it does not save or store any personal biometric data.

Once a customer reaches a camera at the airport, their image is encrypted, stripped of biographic information and sent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) facial biometric matching service via a secure channel. CBP then verifies a customer’s identity against the CBP image gallery and sends back an indicator to allow the customer to proceed.

Since Delta launched the first biometric terminal in the US in December 2018, the airline has expanded facial recognition capabilities to eight new markets over the next year. Prior to that, Delta tested facial recognition with CBP for over three years in Atlanta, Detroit and JFK.

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