Delta pilots digital ID in Detroit, CBP biometric arrival expands to Houston

Amadeus surveys passenger biometrics demand
Delta pilots digital ID in Detroit, CBP biometric arrival expands to Houston

Delta Airlines launched a new biometric identification program for domestic travelers that matches facial recognition with a digital ID made up of a customer’s passport number and TSA PreCheck membership, which it says is the first of its kind in the U.S.

Developed together with the Transportation Security Administration, the new service will be deployed at the Edward H. McNamara Terminal in Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

A dedicated TSA PreCheck domestic checkpoint will be set up at the terminal to allow customers to take advantage of the new initiative.

Customers willing to take advantage of the digital ID will need to have a valid passport and a TSA PreCheck membership.

While passing through the terminal, biometric facial recognition is used to confirm a traveler’s identity at airport touchpoints. The service is also expected to be available to Global Entry members soon.

Commenting on the news, Bill Lentsch, Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer, said the new program has also been developed to facilitate travel during the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has only deepened the importance of providing a touchless experience for our customers.”

Moving forward, the company intends to expand the reach of the system to integrate it across its whole network.

“We plan to expand curb-to-gate facial recognition and digital ID beyond the Detroit test so that all of our customers can enjoy a seamless, touchless travel experience across our network,” Lentsch added.

Delta passengers can store their passport information and PreCheck Known Traveller number in the Fly Delta app, which also allows them to opt into the system at check-in. Bag-drop, security checks and boarding can then be completed with digital identity instead of physical credentials.

However, Delta also clarified that participation in the test is entirely voluntary, and confirmed the company will not save or store any biometric data, during the test or in the future.

Houston first U.S. city to launch Simplified Arrival

Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport has joined William P. Hobby Airport in deploying face biometrics for international arrivals through U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) Simplified Arrival program, according to a Houston Airports press release.

William P. Hobby implemented the program in February.

“At Houston Airports,we want to create a touchless environment at every step of the air travel experience,” Houston Airports Director of Aviation Mario Diaz says in the announcement. “With this technology,we not only drastically reduce wait times at immigration checkpoints for international passengers, but more importantly, we minimize direct contact between passengers and CBP officers, which makes the entry process touchless, safer and faster for everyone.”

The biometric technology is also being used for flight boarding at multiple international gates, with the goal of reaching 90 percent of gates at terminals C, D and E by the end of this year, and 100 percent by the end of 2021’s first quarter.

Amadeus report highlights necessity of biometrics for travel amidst Covid-19

Travel technology company Amadeus has been following the effects of the pandemic closely during 2020, releasing a number of reports on how technology can be used to facilitate traveling in these challenging times.

A Rethink Travel Global Survey conducted by Censuswide between September 14 and 22 in the U.S. and published by Amadeus echoes the release of the new system by Delta.

Of those surveyed for the report, 38 percent showed interest in touchless and contactless payment solutions to be accepted globally, in order to reduce the spread of the virus.

Moreover, 26 percent of the respondents expressed an interest in using biometrics when traveling to remove physical checks as well as reduce queuing.

The number rose to 32 percent for travelers who had been on long-haul flights in the last 18 months.

The survey’s results also showed how Amadeus is trying to address these concerns by providing biometric and self-service solutions to help reduce physical contact, together with contactless payments, remote and self-service bag drop solutions, and mobile or voice activated kiosks.

Reports are also available for the UK, German, French, Indian and Singaporean markets.

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