Posted on November 25, 2019
Delta Airlines is hoping to bring biometric boarding to the Sea-Tac Airport in the State of Washington before the end of the year. A five-person Port of Seattle commission will meet in mid-December to vote on a security motion related to the new technology.
The program will cover international travelers on Delta flights, leveraging facial recognition cameras to allow passengers to board flights and pass security checkpoints without a boarding document and a passport. The tech will match someone’s face against the passport photo stored in the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) database to ensure that that person is indeed supposed to be on the flight in question.
Participation in the new system would be voluntary. The photos gathered through the program would be transmitted to CBP, but any images of US citizens would be deleted after 12 hours.
“There’s no personal identifiable information that is sent with the digital image,” said Delta Air Lines representative Jason Hausner.
Of course, that alone may not be enough to assuage people’s security concerns. At a separate Port of Seattle commission meeting in September, experts noted that facial recognition has had documented cases of racial biases and often struggles with specific segments of the population.
“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,” said Microsoft rep Jacquelyn Krones.
Delta nevertheless expects to install biometric boarding technology at Sea-Tac sometime in late December, arguing that it will save time for airport employees and passengers alike. The airline has already installed biometric tech at six US airports, including Boston Logan Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.