Check your own bag at MSP this summer – by letting them scan your face

Delta will test technology that compares your passport photo to your face as you check your own bag.
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Delta Airlines has chosen the Twin Cities to test out its new self-service baggage drop system, including a machine that will scan a traveler's face to make sure it matches their passport photo.

Delta announced Monday it's spending $600,000 to install four baggage drop machines at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for this summer's trial run. While other carriers are using automated bag checks, Delta says it's the first airline to use facial recognition technology.

How it will work

Travelers are already using kiosks to print out their boarding passes. Once the new machines are ready, they'll also be able to print a tag they can attach to their luggage.

When your bag is ready, take it to one of the four machines that'll send it off to your plane. As the Business Journal explains, three of those machines will be set up to scan your boarding pass. Then you'll still have to show your ID to a Delta employee. The other machine is for passengers who have a passport. It will scan the photo on your passport, then scan your face to make sure they match.

Delta says it's twice as fast

Delta says it will collect feedback from its Twin Cities customers about the new system and will analyze how well the process is working.

But the airline has some expectations about how it will go. "Studies have found that self-service bag drops have the potential to process twice as many customers per hour," Delta says in its statement. They also expect it to make their lobby area less congested, which the company says improves customer satisfaction.

Lots more tech

There's been a recent surge of automation at Delta and at MSP. Besides checking in with an app and printing your own boarding pass, Delta flyers can also track their baggage in real time on a map.

And passengers who sign up and pay a fee can bypass the TSA security line at the airport by using their fingerprint and an eyeball-scan to verify who they are.

Does the new technology mean fewer human beings will be working at the airport?

We'll see. But for now Delta is putting a positive spin on things, saying self-service baggage check means "...agents will be freed up to seek out travelers and deliver more proactive and thoughtful customer service.”

There's more on how facial recognition technology works here. The Washington Post reported a couple years ago that some stores are already using it to spot known shoplifters, though privacy rules and laws about its use are still getting hashed out.

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