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Facial recognition: Coming soon to an airport near you

·2 mins

On a recent Thursday morning, travelers at La Guardia Airport’s Terminal C experienced a new and efficient way of going through security. Instead of the traditional process, some passengers were able to use a facial recognition system to verify their identity. The system quickly matched their face with a photo from a government database, allowing them to bypass the usual ID and boarding pass requirements. The use of biometric technology, such as facial recognition, is becoming more prevalent in air travel, promising quicker processing and improved security. However, concerns over privacy and ethics have also arisen. Despite this, major airlines and government agencies in the United States are investing in facial recognition technology, while international airports are implementing biometrics-enabled gates and self-service kiosks. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been experimenting with facial recognition since 2019, and their screening verification system will be available at around 400 more airports in the future. Additionally, Delta Air Lines and other airlines are introducing programs like Delta Digital ID, allowing PreCheck travelers to use their faces instead of boarding passes and IDs at various stages of their journey. Other airlines, such as American Airlines and United Airlines, are also testing similar systems for PreCheck travelers. The use of facial recognition technology also extends beyond security checkpoints, with airports exploring its application in various aspects of air travel, such as boarding and purchasing items within the airport. Internationally, airports in Singapore, Germany, and China have already implemented comprehensive facial recognition systems. Experts predict that facial recognition will become ubiquitous in air travel, with the majority of global airlines and airports expected to adopt some form of biometric identification by 2026. While this technological advancement offers convenience and efficiency, questions remain about the training and evaluation of these systems, the implications of opting out, and the potential issues arising from discrepancies between documents and appearances. Despite privacy concerns, the future of air travel seems heavily reliant on facial recognition technology.