Waiting in line at the airport is seldom a pleasant experience. But Delta Air Lines is hoping to ease those traveling pains by cutting down wait times at baggage drop-offs by using facial recognition technology.
The new program, announced May 15, will allow Delta passengers to check their baggage through new self-service machines that match faces to passport photos. The stations will debut this summer at Minnesota's Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Company officials are hopeful that their investment in the technology will help create more pleasant traveling conditions. By freeing up the employees who are busy checking bags, more time can be spent helping customers with more complex travel issues.
“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,” explained Gareth Joyce, Delta’s senior vice president for Airport Customer Service and Cargo in a release.
The airline will gather feedback during the trial process and run analyses to ensure that the technology improves the overall customer experience. According to the release, the self-service machines have the potential to process twice as many customers per hour.
This is not the first use of facial recognition technology in airports. In an effort to identify passport fraud or recognize undocumented immigrants, Customs and Border Protection has been testing the Biometric Exit program, which uses facial matching systems to identify every visa holder as they leave the country. The technology has been used in Dulles and JFK airports.
Facial recognition technology has not come without controversy. Privacy advocates argue that the act is invasive and unnecessary. Connecticut recently passed legislation requiring private companies to display information publicly if utilizing facial recognition tech.