Delta Air Lines Leverages Biometric Technology in Atlanta Airport to Ease Travel - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank

Delta Air Lines continues to expand its biometric services with the launch of a new digital identity experience at its Atlanta hub. Travelers with a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck membership and a Delta SkyMiles number will have the ability to use Delta’s new technology for a facilitated airport experience.

Delta Air Lines first implemented biometric security checkpoints at its hub in Detroit Metropolitan Airport earlier in 2021. This technology, which allows for customers to traverse through the airport without presenting a paper boarding pass or a physical government ID, will now be offered at Atlanta Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport. Travelers who select this process will see an expedited bag check-in, security process, and boarding with just one look at a camera.

How it Works

Travelers that do opt to utilize Delta’s biometric screening can expect the following:

  • Enter passport information and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry Known Traveler Number in their SkyMiles profile in the Fly Delta app.
  • Opt in to the facial recognition verification program
  • Look into the camera at the bag drop, the security checkpoint, and the boarding gate to use their digital identity instead of a physical ID and boarding pass.

Delta Air Lines asserts it does not save or store any biometric data. When a traveler looks into a camera at an airport checkpoint, their image is encrypted and directed to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s facial biometric matching service, where it confirms a traveler’s identity with government data and allows them to move onward.

According to Delta Air Lines’ press release, a customer’s digital identity is defined by their passport number and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry Known Traveler Number. This data is further authenticated by facial recognition technology, which confirms a traveler’s identity at airport checkpoints. 

What’s Next for Delta

Delta anticipates implementing the facial recognition technology in Atlanta Airport’s South Security Checkpoint within the coming weeks and later plans to bring the technology to bag drop and boarding areas before the end of 2021. Following Atlanta, Delta will expand its biometric services to other hubs next year.

“The exclusive expansion of digital identity moves Delta one step closer to achieving our vision of creating a more personalized and fully connected travel journey,” said Byron Merritt, Delta’s Vice President of Brand Experience Design. “Our goal in turning pivotal moments like security and check-in into seamless experiences is to give time and focus back to the moments customers enjoy. Innovations like digital identity are implemented with the intention to transform the cohesive travel experience into a journey that our customers can truly look forward to.”

For the past several years, Delta has worked to enhance its customer’s experiences—the airline, for instance, first launched a fully biometric terminal in Atlanta in 2018. Alongside the newly-announced biometric TSA screening, Delta will partner with TSA to optimize automated screening lanes and additional screening technology.

“TSA appreciates working with industry stakeholders to design, build and test innovative technologies that enhance security and improve the passenger experience,” said TSA Requirements and Capabilities Analysis Acting Assistant Administrator Keith Goll. “We continue to work ceaselessly to leverage the latest technology and partnerships to ensure that the traveling experience of our PreCheck passengers is as seamless, convenient and secure as possible.”

Customers traveling through Delta Air Lines’ Atlanta mega-hub from major destinations around the world—Tokyo, Johannesburg, Paris and Santiago, namely—will soon be able to experience this new technology. As demand for flights continues to rebound and restrictions lift, travelers will benefit from facilitated biometric screenings to reduce contact points, both from Delta and its competitors.


Roger Lu is an aviation enthusiast and analyst researching the implications of technology on global travel. He enjoys writing about how data is utilized in the context of aviation security and customer experience.

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