Delta launches first domestic digital identity test

09/02/21

Delta customers at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport now have the option to move through the airport faster and more easily. In partnership with Transportation Security Administration, Delta is launching the first facial recognition option for domestic travelers using a digital ID made up of a customer’s passport number and TSA PreCheck membership. 

Beginning February, customers traveling in the U.S. will be able to use that digital ID – verified by facial recognition technology – to move through the Edward H. McNamara Terminal’s dedicated TSA PreCheck domestic checkpoint. 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 traveling domestically – an important step on the path to an easier and more touchless airport experience. This builds on Delta’s existing facial recognition option for any customer traveling to an international destination.

To be eligible to participate in the Detroit test, customers need a passport number and a TSA PreCheck membership. Facial recognition technology uses this information as a digital ID to confirm a traveler’s identity at airport touchpoints. 

“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.”

If a customer does not want to use facial recognition, they can simply not opt in at check-in and proceed through the airport as they always have - as participation is completely voluntary. Delta does not save or store any biometric data, nor does it plan to.

Participating customers can look forward to an easier and less stressful airport experience. Here’s how it will work:

Store your passport information and TSA PreCheck Known Traveler Number securely in your SkyMiles profile in the Fly Delta app
Opt into the program at check-in using the Fly Delta app
At the airport, you can look into the camera at bag drop, the security checkpoint and the boarding gate to use your digital identity in place of a physical ID and boarding pass

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 U.S. in December 2018, the airline 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 New York-JFK – refining the experience along the way.

 

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