Delta prepares the “Digital Identity” experience for Atlanta

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The facial recognition equipment at the gate scans to allow the passenger to pass, without the need to show an ID or boarding pass.

Many of Delta Air Lines’ domestic passengers will soon have the ability to pass through the airport using a “digital identity”: a combination of their SkyMiles member number, passport number and known traveler number.

Delta’s new facial recognition path in Atlanta, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, includes a dedicated baggage storage area away from the general check-in area, on the lower level of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport near the drop-off area of ​​the rideshare. There, self-service kiosks confirm the identity of passengers with a facial scan and print baggage tags, which passengers can attach to their bags, then load them onto a conveyor belt.

From there, passengers can go through the security checkpoint which has a second camera for face scanning. A third device at the gate performs another facial scan to let the passenger through, without the need to show identity documents or boarding passes at any time.

To participate, travelers must be members of both Delta’s SkyMiles program and TSA’s PreCheck program. About a quarter of Atlanta-based Delta’s passengers are currently members of both, said Greg Forbes, managing director of Delta’s airport experience. These passengers will have the option to join at check-in via the Delta app, an option that will reappear on every trip from Atlanta.

While traveling to the airport, those passengers will have the ability to take their own route, Forbes said. If they are members of Clear, which uses biometric identifiers such as fingerprints and iris scans, they can still use that line, for example. The staff is available throughout all aspects of the process in case of problems with the technology.

Ultimately, however, the TSA sees facial recognition as a much more effective security method than standard identity checks, Forbes said. “Facial recognition is much harder to fool than to forge a driver’s license,” he said.

Delta has been working on its biometric technology for several years, including its similar program in Detroit which will soon also have its own dedicated baggage claim area and is working to expand to more of its hubs. Byron Merritt, Delta’s vice president of brand experience design, said facial recognition is a “core capability,” similar to Wi-Fi on an airplane, which will open up other experience opportunities for passengers in the future, such as the lounge access.

“Having the ability for a customer to move more smoothly through the airport will unlock a better way for us to serve you more broadly,” said Merritt.

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