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United Now Offers TSA PreCheck Facial Recognition at O’Hare and LAX

United is introducing facial recognition for bag check-in and security clearance at Chicago O'Hare and LAX

by Lauren Smith

February 28, 2024

Photo: Courtesy of United Airlines

United Airlines passengers with TSA PreCheck can now skate through security at Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) simply by scanning their faces, as the airline joins rivals in using TSA’s new facial recognition systems.

As first spotted by The Points Guy, United’s website states it is now offering “TSA PreCheck Touchless ID” at the two hubs, the fourth and fifth busiest airports in the U.S.

The technology allows enrolled travelers to verify their identity at the airport by scanning their faces rather than presenting their boarding passes and IDs.

Where and how?

At O’Hare and LAX, United customers can now clear PreCheck security using facial recognition. However, the system at O’Hare is still in its testing phase, and agents will continue to check IDs until May.

In Chicago, United is also trialing using facial recognition at bag drop counters, a feature that will also be introduced at LAX sometime in March.

To take advantage of the facial recognition shortcut, travelers need to be members of the expedited airport screening program TSA PreCheck, which requires a background check, an $85 fee application fee, and annual renewal costs.

Photo: Overhead sign showing security check point lanes designated for first class and TSA Precheck / Photo: RYO Alexandre/Shutterstock

Then, to participate in United’s Touchless ID program, eligible passengers must upload scans of their passports to their United MileagePlus account using the airline’s mobile app. When checking their flights online, they must opt into the Touchless ID program, giving the airline permission to use facial scans as identification.

Upon arrival at the airport, participating travelers should head to the bag drop shortcut area, where an agent will scan their face at a designated kiosk. The scans captured by the technology won’t be kept by TSA “except for a limited period of time for testing and evaluation purposes.”

From there, travelers can proceed to a special Touchless ID lane at the security checkpoints, which they’ll find next to the PreCheck lane.

Photo: Courtesy of Denver International Airport

United’s Touchless ID program is only available for travelers 18 and older on single-passenger reservations. It currently can’t accommodate passengers using airport wheelchairs or traveling with pets.

United said it plans to introduce Touchless ID at bag drop counters, security checkpoints, and boarding gates at its hubs this year.

Competitor Delta Air Lines offers a similar program, branded Digital ID, using the same TSA Touchless Identity Solution. Delta passengers can now use their faces to check bags and pass through security at five airports: Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW), Los Angeles (LAX), and New York’s LaGuardia (LGA) and John. F. Kennedy (JFK) airports.

American Airlines program, Mobile ID, is similar but has only been implemented at security checkpoints at one airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in D.C.

Even more futuristic developments are coming to airports soon. In November, the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of TSA, announced that self-screening pods are in the works for U.S. airports. These kiosks will harness facial recognition and automated gates and baggage conveyance systems to process travelers with little or no assistance from staff. The self-screening kiosks are being trialed at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas (LAS).