Delta Air Lines said it is introducing four self-service bag drop machines at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this summer – including one that will test facial recognition technology.
According to a release, the facial recognition component will match customers with their passport photos through identification verification. It was not immediately clear whether this technology will be used to link passengers’ faces with their bags, but Delta noted in the release the test is a first for US carriers. (In October, Delta introduced RFID technology that allows passengers to keep tabs on where their bags are).
Face tracking is becoming increasingly widespread in airports. In March, British Airways said it is introducing self-boarding gates with facial recognition for domestic flights in the UK.
“We are always looking for innovative ways in which to create a smoother journey through the airport for our customers,” a rep said in an email.
In addition, The Verge reports face scanning may soon be at every international airport in the US thanks to a project called Biometric Exit that has been fast tracked by the Trump administration.
For its part, Delta said the new kiosks – including those without facial recognition technology – mark a $600,000 investment that it hopes will “[allow] customers to quickly, securely and easily check their own bags”.
Delta also cited studies it said have shown self-service bag drops have the potential to process twice as many customers per hour, and the airline will collect feedback during the trial and run process analyses to see if the experience is indeed enhanced.
Delta said facial recognition technology is a “natural next step” after self-service innovations like ticketing kiosks and check-in via the Fly Delta Mobile app as it seeks to streamline airport processes.
"We expect this investment and new process to save customers time," said Gareth Joyce, senior vice president of airport customer service and cargo at Delta, in a statement. "And, since customers can operate the biometric-based bag drop machine independently, we see a future where Delta agents will be freed up to seek out travelers and deliver more proactive and thoughtful customer service.”