Delta Expands Optional Facial Recognition Boarding to New Airports and More Customers   

Over the next month, Delta Air Lines, in partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) and Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) will install optional facial recognition boarding at ATL Concourse E, MSP and SLC – expanding the technology to 49 new gates and all international flights.

This means that customers flying direct to an international destination on Delta and its partners can use facial recognition technology to board at these airports. And, if customers do not want to participate, they just let a Delta gate agent know and board as they always have, using their boarding pass and passport.

“We are already seeing improvements in satisfaction scores from customers moving through the airport in Atlanta. The expansion of facial recognition at boarding enables more customers to take advantage of this seamless, time-saving process – an important step as we implement facial recognition in our hubs across the country and define the experience for the industry,” said Gil West, Delta’s COO. “At Delta, we have the best people in aviation, and technology like this frees them up to spend more time helping our customers.”

The expansion to ATL E rounds out the curb-to-gate biometric experience for international travelers in Atlanta. Based on recent, third-party customer insight research at ATL Concourse F:

  • 70 percent found the curb-to-gate facial recognition experience appealing after moving through it at ATL F
  • 72 percent prefer facial recognition to standard boarding
  • 93 percent of customers had no issue using the technology at boarding

In addition, less than two percent of customers opt out of this process and CBP has a match rate of more than 97 percent. At boarding, this technology can save an average of nine minutes when boarding a widebody aircraft, or two seconds per customer when compared with traditional boarding.

“With facial recognition technology, we are simply taking a picture and matching it against passport photos, replacing the manual comparison process,” said John Wagner, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, CBP. "Built on years of testing and partnership with Delta, expansion will bring a more efficient travel experience to more passengers, while meeting the federal requirements for international passenger verification that have been in place since 1996.”

The expansion of the facial recognition option with Delta Biometrics is a natural next step following the launch of the first biometric terminal in the U.S. and upcoming curb-to-gate experience at DTW, which built on several years of optional facial recognition boarding tests at ATL, DTW and JFK with CBP. In addition, Delta tested a self-service biometric bag drop at MSP for international customers. Delta has also tested biometric boarding at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and has launched optional biometric check-in for all domestic Delta Sky Clubs, facilitated by Delta Biometrics.

Over the past several years, Delta has led the industry on a number of customer solutions like RFID baggage handling, automatic check-in and bag tracking via the Fly Delta mobile app, a cross-industry alliance that will empower customers with a seamless in-cabin connectivity experience, more efficient and high-tech automated screening lanes, and a groundbreaking app that helps Delta pilots avoid turbulence for a more comfortable flight. Delta was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies Worldwide for two years running, climbing to the No. 2 spot among travel companies this year.

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