Delta Airlines Begins Using Facial Recognition Scanners To Replace Boarding Passes

“Delta Air Lines announced it will give passengers who fly out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport the option to use facial recognition to board their flight instead of a standard boarding pass,” reported a CBS affiliate this week.

The facial scanners will be installed this week at 16 gates, with availability on all international flights through Delta beginning in July. The airline is working with Customs and Border Protection on the process. The way it works is gate agents use facial scans for boarding passengers so that they don’t need to manually compare their faces and their passport photos. They can skip to using the facial technology. Delta says the process saves about two seconds per passenger or about nine minutes for a plane with 270 people.

Delta says 72% of its customers have said they prefer facial recognition to standard boarding procedures. But James Lileks, a columnist for the Star Tribune, explains some of the ways this makes him uncomfortable:
Here’s the thing. You don’t sign up for the facial recognition. You don’t send them your face. They already have it. This part is just… glided over in the news reports, waved away like a minor detail you needn’t worry your silly little head about.
The picture they probably have is my passport photo, taken in 2010… So I guess I’ll have to stuff my cheeks with cotton before I lean into the machine that connects to a database of everyone’s mug, and hope it doesn’t go off

“I don’t know what they do with people who grew a beard,” Lileks adds, “but there’s probably the option to shave on the spot.”

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