New facial recognition-enabled experience in Atlanta provides hands- and device-free convenience for travelers from curb to gate.

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Traveling through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport will be even easier for Delta customers enrolled in TSA PreCheck® starting next month with the expansion of new facial recognition capabilities and the opening of the first-ever Delta-TSA PreCheck express lobby and bag drop.

A passenger uses TSA facial recognition technology.
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Delta’s digital identity experience is expanding to Atlanta, offering customers a more efficient way to navigate the airport – without showing a paper boarding pass or a physical government ID.

Customers with both the Fly Delta app and a TSA PreCheck membership will soon be able to visit a new dedicated bag drop lobby on the lower level of Atlanta’s Domestic South Terminal, pass through the security checkpoint, and board their plane at the gate using only their "digital identity" (made up of a customer’s SkyMiles Member number, passport number and Known Traveler Number). Customers are free to travel from curb to gate, completely hands- and device-free.

TSA Facial Recognition
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Delta customers in Detroit can use their passport number and TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry membership as a digital ID.

“We want to give our customers more time to enjoy travel by unlocking simplified, seamless and efficient experiences from end to end,” said Byron Merritt, Delta’s Vice President of Brand Experience Design. “Delta has been a leader in testing and implementing facial recognition technology since 2018 as part of our vision for building airports that are effortless. The launch of Atlanta’s express lobby and bag drop is the latest step in our commitment to listening and innovating for our customers.”

Here’s how Delta’s new experience will ease transit through three airport touchpoints in Atlanta:

1. Bag Drop

Bag Drop

Delta is setting a new standard for the industry as the first and only airline to build a dedicated bag drop space for TSA PreCheck customers. In Atlanta, a sleek new facility features fully automated self-serve bag drop machines – allowing for a quick and easy drop.

After checking in on the Fly Delta app, customers can enter the dedicated lobby area, conveniently located next to the rideshare drop-off area on the lower level of Atlanta’s Domestic South Terminal. They’ll quickly verify their identity via a hands-free facial scan, print and attach a bag tag from a self-serve kiosk, and place their bag on the conveyer.

Not only does the new experience streamline steps required to check a bag, but it also saves customers an average of more than two minutes (and more during peak travel times) by allowing them to skip the lines inside the main airport lobby.

The space will open next month ahead of the holiday travel season. In Detroit, eligible customers will be able to enjoy self-serve bag tagging and a dedicated Delta bag drop queue at the Delta check-in counter later this fall.

2. Security Checkpoint

Security Checkpoint

After a short walk from bag drop to security, eligible customers will once again use a quick facial scan to pass through the domestic checkpoint in dedicated TSA PreCheck lanes – no need to show a government ID or boarding pass.

In Atlanta, customers will also have the benefit of industry-leading, more efficient security scanners that allow travelers to keep electronics and approved liquids in carry-on bags. As always, CLEAR remains a good choice for members who prefer to use its services.

​computed tomography-automated screening lane systems
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Atlanta’s domestic terminal south security checkpoint will be the first in the U.S. to be converted to upgraded, high-tech screening lanes.

3. Boarding

Boarding

When it’s time to board, customers will swap a facial scan for a boarding pass, just as they did at bag drop and the security checkpoint. One photo, and they are ready to board.

In Atlanta, T1-T8 gates will be the first to offer a facial recognition option for domestic boarding. Gates A10 and A12 will offer the same digital identity-enabled boarding in Detroit.

“This element of the customer journey is possible thanks to our strong partnerships with TSA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and airport leadership, which were built over years of testing and perfecting facial recognition options for international customers,” said Greg Forbes, Delta’s Managing Director – Airport Experience. “Delta is writing the playbook for the industry as the first and only carrier to test this experience with TSA and TSA PreCheck.”

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Since Delta launched the first biometric terminal in the U.S. in 2018, the airline has advanced its position as the industry leader in biometrics.

“We are glad to support self-service technologies that enhance security and reduce physical contact for passengers and TSA employees,” said Atlanta’s TSA Federal Security Director Robert Spinden. “This is one of many such pilots at domestic airports, and we look forward to continuing to test new initiatives with airline and interagency partners.”

Customers with an active Delta SkyMiles membership, Known Traveler Number and passport details saved to their profile can opt in when checking in for their flight using the Fly Delta app. If a customer does not want to participate in this option, they can choose not to opt in and proceed through the airport as preferred – participation is voluntary. Delta does not save or store any biometric data, nor does it plan to.

Delta teams are working to expand the airline’s facial recognition-enabled offerings both in scale and scope so more customers can experience a hands-free journey in the future.

With ongoing enhancements to the customer experience both in the air and on the ground – and even more destinations on the map in 2021-2022 – Delta is giving customers more to look forward to as they continue returning to the skies.

Delta Digital ID