Lonely Planet Writer

Getting through an airport could become quicker as biometric identification for bag drops is trialled

We’ll be interested to see how biometric identification is going to change the face of flying, now that Delta Airlines is testing out a new self-service baggage drop system at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.

Delta Airlines is testing out a new self-service baggage drop system. Image: Andrew Bret Wallis
Delta Airlines is testing out a new self-service baggage drop system. Image: Andrew Bret Wallis

Biometric identification verifies a person’s identity through fingerprints, facial features or other physical characteristics. It is being increasingly used throughout the travel industry to improve security and speed up travellers’ passage through the airport. This should become even speedier for some travellers now that Delta’s new system is allowing them to check their own bags. The airline has invested in four self-service bag drop machines equipped with biometric technology at a cost of $600,000.

Delta Airlines is testing out a new self-service baggage drop system. Image: Delta
Delta Airlines is testing out a new self-service baggage drop system. Image: Delta

Passengers first enter a kiosk that allows them to print their own baggage tags, which they attach to their bags. Then they move on to the biometric bag drop station and scan their boarding pass. The machine asks for their passport, and once that has been scanned they move to the optical scan, where they are asked to look at the camera. The machine takes a 3D image of the passenger’s face and compares it to a digital image taken from his or her passport.

The idea is to connect a unique baggage pass with a unique individual, so the tag on the bag is scanned at the same time as the customer is going through facial recognition. Once the machine is happy with the person’s identity, it weighs the bag and takes it through.

Delta Airlines is testing out a new self-service baggage drop system. Image: Delta
Delta Airlines is testing out a new self-service baggage drop system. Image: Delta

The testing period at Minneapolis St. Paul will last six months, after which the airline hopes to be able to expand it to other areas. It believes that the self-service bag drop system will free up Delta agents to work with customers who have more complicated travel issues, as well as enhancing the customer experience.