Lonely Planet Writer

Delta is testing facial recognition technology to create a speedy self-service baggage-drop

If waiting in long lines to check in luggage at the airport drives you crazy, there’s good news – Delta is testing self-service baggage drops that use facial recognition software to speed up the wait.

Renderings of two automated bag drop stations at the airport.
Delta is testing facial recognition technology that would allow for self-serve baggage drops. Image by Delta

Of four new self-serve bag-drop machines, one will use facial scanning data to match customers with their passport photo and confirm their identity. The new bag drops will open at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this summer in a first for US carriers, according to Delta.

The biometric-based drop is designed to save travellers time and to allow airline staff to aid people who need assistance. The airline plans to collect customer feedback during the trial to test whether the system actually improves the baggage-drop experience. And hopes are high that it will, as Delta notes that studies have found that self-service could process twice as many customers per hour, meaning your wait at the airport could become much shorter.

It’s not the airline’s first foray into simplifying the airport experience with technology. Delta has already created radio frequency identification technology that allows travellers to follow their checked luggage on a map as it travellers through the airport.

And while Delta is launching this program in the US, other airlines have started introducing biometric facial recognition to its systems. Biometric technology has already been used at airports around the US at security checks and boarding gates.

Facial scans at Heathrow.
Facial scans at Heathrow. Image by British Airways

British Airways also recently became the first UK airline to bring in three biometric boarding gates for domestic flights at Heathrow Airport in London. The process works by digitally scanning a passenger’s face as they head through security. When they arrive at the gate, they scan their own boarding pass and then look into a screen, which is then matched with the original security lane scan.