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Delta Rolls Out Digital ID Trial for Domestic Travelers

The voluntary pilot program at Detroit Metropolitan security checkpoints will soon be extended to bag drop and boarding

February 3, 2021

Delta Air Lines has launched a pilot program to use facial recognition for selected customers on domestic flights to verify their digital ID. The technology is being tested Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

Delta customers traveling through DTW can opt into the voluntary trial at check-in, provided they have their passport information and TSA Pre Check Known Traveler Number stored in their Skymiles profile in the Fly Delta app.

Facial recognition technology can then be used in place of the customer’s physical ID and boarding pass to go through the dedicated domestic TSA Pre Check security lane at the airport.

Delta says it plans to extend the technology to bag drop and boarding in early 2021, making Detroit the first airport to offer a facial recognition option from curb to gate.

Delta explained the process this way:

“Once a customer reaches a camera at the airport, their image is encrypted, stripped of biographic information and sent to US Customs and Border Protection’s 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.”

The carrier stressed that participation in the trial is voluntary, and that it “does not save or store any biometric data, nor does it plan to.”

The initiative builds on Delta’s existing biometric options for customers, including the launch of its “end-to-end biometric terminal” at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport in 2018.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has only deepened the importance of providing a touchless experience for our customers,” said Bill Lentsch, Delta’s chief customer experience officer “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.”