Delta testing facial recognition for self-service bag check-in at Minneapolis airport

Delta Air Lines is planning on installing machines at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to allow customers to check in their bags with facial recognition.

Image: Delta Air Lines

Passengers flying on Delta Air Lines may soon be able to check in their bags by themselves, thanks to new self-service bag drop machines that use facial recognition to confirm a passenger's identity.

Delta announced the initiative in a press release on Monday. The machines, which will be placed at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, will cost a total of $600,000, and will use the facial recognition technology to match a passenger's face with his or her passport photo, the release said.

"We expect this investment and new process to save customers time," said Gareth Joyce, Delta's senior vice president of airport customer service and cargo, in the release. "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."

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The bag drops are the latest self-service tool implemented by Delta. The airline has also rolled out self-service ticketing kiosks, automated screening checkpoints, and its Fly Delta Mobile app to streamline the airport experience, the release said.

Delta also noted in the release that it would be collecting customer feedback during the trial run of the machines, in order to make sure they improve the experience for travelers, the release said. The machines will be deployed in the airport sometime this summer.

The Delta bag machines are one of a handful of facial recognition systems being employed throughout the transportation industry. A US federal program called Biometric Exit will use facial recognition to track visa holders leaving the US, in hopes of curbing illegal immigration.

Facial recognition is becoming a greater part of everyday life, with biometric security programs from companies like Android and Windows that allow the use of a user's face to unlock their device. Additionally, facial recognition programs around the world continue to advance, growing in accuracy.

Still, privacy questions linger. Biometric solutions like facial detection are seen as an invasion of privacy by some, and certain companies have gone as far as to develop glasses and other accessories that aim to disrupt the technology.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Delta Air Lines will be rolling out new self-service bag check-in machines that use facial recognition to identify a passenger against their passport photo.
  2. Facial recognition is also coming to some airports in the form of Biometric Exit, a federal program that checks the identities of visa-holders leaving the US.
  3. Facial recognition is seen as an invasion of privacy by some, with companies creating accessories to block the technology's capabilities.

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