Delta Airways proposes to inaugurate the first facial recognition based “biometric terminal” at many stops of the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) terminal. At this terminal and Atlanta airport’s Concourse F, Delta is going to deploy facial recognition at the security checkpoint, customs processing, check-in, and at point-of-boarding.
Delta claims that international passengers flying to other countries out of Atlanta can utilize the facial recognition to pass through the airport checkpoints, thus, replacing the need of passports. This is comparable to services already being offered at other airports across the world, as well as the biometric terminal started in last fall at Singapore Changi airport.
Currently, the proposal plans to launch the technology in Atlanta at Hartsfield-Jackson’s Concourse F gates by 15th October and eventually all across the international terminal by December1st. International passengers will still be required to carry their passports, and will also be required to reveal their entry tickets at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) point. Initially, Delta will only offer this technology to international travelers, thus the checking process for other passengers will remain the same for now.
Delta also facilitates passengers by giving them the option to withdraw from the facial recognition process.
However, not all travelers are thrilled by this new technology. Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney, claims that she is cautious about this technology as it may pose a privacy threat, “our constitutional ‘right to travel’ and right to anonymous association”. She is more concerned about data breaches.
“We see very few people choosing to opt out of the process, because it makes it pretty easy for them,” John Wagner, Customs assistant commissioner, said. “There’s great potential here to change some of the pain points in the airport process, all based on some security mandates.”
During boarding, Delta claims that up to nine minutes can be saved by using facial recognition for identification. In the Hartsfield-Jackson International Terminal, travelers flying on Delta partner airlines i.e. Aeromexico, Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic can also utilize machine learning based face recognition.
“We’re scaling first in Atlanta at Concourse F, and as we get experience with that we’re going to look to scale it throughout our system ultimately,” Gil West, leading operations officer of Delta, claimed. “We think it will over time become the norm in the travel experience.”
The Atlanta airport is not alone. Delta has also been in collaboration with US Customs, who has been experimenting with facial recognition during boarding at Detroit and John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York. Furthermore, experiments have also been done on bag drop and biometric boarding in collaboration with CLEAR, biometric technologies firm, for advanced security checks, and permits for members of Sky Club to utilize their fingerprints for club entry.
Lastly, at the international terminal, fresh Computed Tomography (CT) scanners will be soon released by TSA for two automatic screening paths, which means that travelers would not need to pull out electronics and other materials from their bags. New scanners have already been released by TSA at other airports across the country.