Delta Air Lines working to bring facial recognition to Sea-Tac Airport

Delta Air Lines hopes to have facial recognition technology available for its international passengers at Sea-Tac International Airport by the end of the year.

Two Delta Air Lines representatives told Port of Seattle commissioners in September that the company is already using the technology in Atlanta, where international travelers can use facial recognition instead of boarding documents and passports at kiosks, security checkpoints and at boarding.

Supporters of the technology say it’s a time saver and added layer of security.

Customers can opt out,” Delta Air Lines’ Jason Hausner told Port of Seattle commissioners. “There’s no requirement to participate.”

A spokesperson for Delta Air Lines on Sunday did not immediately provide a timeline for the implementation at Sea-Tac.

Privacy and the effectiveness of the facial recognition on women of color were among the concerns addressed at the September commission study session. An expert from Microsoft said there can be issues with using facial recognition on children.

“Facial recognition tends not to work well on very young children because babies in particular have less differentiation in their faces than you do after you become an older child or an adult,” Microsoft’s Jacquelyn Krones told commissioners.

Delta Air Lines said facial images, which are transmitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, are not permanently stored and called the system secure.

“There’s no personal identifiable information that is sent with the digital image,” said Hausner.

CBP is working to make facial recognition technology the norm for international passengers arriving in the U.S. with an eye on domestic flights.

In an October study session with Port of Seattle commissioners, CBP stressed the use of the technology is not part of a surveillance program and said U.S. citizen images are deleted after 12 hours.

Port of Seattle commissioners said they will consider a motion ensuring safeguards at a December meeting.


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