Will Your Face Be Enough to Get You on a Plane?
Facial recognition may soon be coming to an airport security line near you.
Earlier this week, the Transportation Security Administration released a 23-page report outlining changes it is proposing on how passengers are screened before boarding their flights. Key among those changes is the proposal that passports and other forms of identification will eventually be replaced by biometric technology.
“With the threat to aviation evolving every day, developing the next generation of security technology with our industry partners is critically important,” David Pekoske, the T.S.A. administrator, said in a statement. “By expanding our use of biometrics, TSA secures its position as a global leader in aviation security and advances global transportation security standards.”
Early this year, the agency began testing facial recognition technology for international travelers at Los Angeles International Airport. The biometric technology matches facial images to photos in government databases, such as photos obtained from passports or visa applications.
And in 2017, the T.S.A. tested fingerprint technology at the T.S.A. PreCheck lanes at the Atlanta and Denver airports. The technology matches passenger fingerprints provided at the checkpoint to those provided to the T.S.A. by travelers who have enrolled in the PreCheck program.
Biometric technology is also being evaluated by individual airlines. Delta Air Lines announced in September that it is building a dedicated biometric terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The technology, to be installed at Terminal F, would allow passengers to check-in at the self-service kiosks, drop off their checked baggage at the counter and then be used as identification at the terminal’s T.S.A. checkpoint.
“Launching the first biometric terminal in the U.S. at the world’s busiest airport means we’re bringing the future of flying to customers traveling around the globe,” Gil West, Delta’s chief operating office, said in a statement.
Face-recognition technology is not only supposed to speed up security lines, but is also less susceptible to fraud then the manual checks of IDs.
“By testing biometrics technology in the airport environment, T.S.A. hopes to increase security effectiveness and stay ahead of the threat,” Mr. Pekoske said. “We will continue to leverage our partnerships to deliver enhanced capabilities to checkpoint lanes throughout the country.”