Delta Air Lines has revealed that it will test facial recognition technology in the next couple of weeks for flyers using the self-service bag drop facility. Initially this will be done at the MSP – Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and will involve matching the faces of customers with that of the photos on their passports via identification verification.
At Delta’s MSP hub, the airline will put up four self-service bag drop facility machines, one of which will be equipped with the facial recognition technology. The equipment will cost Delta approximately $600,000 and will make the airline the first one in the United States to make use of the self-service bag drop facility that is based on biometric data.
“We expect this investment and new process to save customers time. And, since customers can operate the biometric-based bag drop machine independently, we see a future where Delta agents will be freed up,” Delta’s cargo and airport customer service senior vice president Gareth Joyce, said in a statement.
The self-service bag drops are targeted at flyers who check in through the self-service check-in booths Customers will be required to affix to their luggage a bag tag which they will obtain from the self-service booths. Flyers will then carry that luggage to the drop-off point.
For the three machines or facilities that will not possess the facial-recognition feature, the identity of a customer will be verified by a human agent. At the lone facility equipped with the facial-recognition feature, flyers will be required to pass their passports through the machine for scanning. The facial-recognition tool will then try to determine whether the individual checking in is the actual person on the passport.
Currently, the facial-recognition tool only works for flyers who possess passports. Flyers with other forms of identification will be required to use the facilities that are manned by human agents.
At the luggage drop-off points all flyers will have to do once their identities have been confirmed is to place their bags on a conveyor belt that will deliver them to the next point where they undergo security checks and eventual loading onto the plane.
As this is a trial phase Delta has indicated that customer feedback will help the airline evaluate the success of the new technology. This comes at a time when the airline is renovating its lobby at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport with a view to improving the customer experience.