Delta Air Lines is testing a new system that will let some passengers board its planes with just their fingertips.
Members of Delta’s SkyMiles loyalty program who are enrolled in the private verified-traveler service Clear, will be able to board flights at Reagan Washington National Airport in D.C. by scanning their fingerprint, instead of a traditional boarding pass, at the gate.
The program, which was first launched in May at the Reagan Washington Delta Sky Club, is now fully integrated into Delta’s boarding process at the airport. Results from the test will be evaluated before Delta decides to improve the process or expand it to airports nationwide.
According to senior executive vice president and chief operating officer Gil West, if all goes well with the testing, a boarding pass-free future isn’t far off.
“Customers throughout our domestic network could start seeing this capability in a matter of months—not years,” he said. “Delta really is delivering the future now.”
The news is yet another way Delta is targeting a streamlined air travel process through the use of new technology.
Last year, Delta became the first carrier to use radio frequency identification technology (RFID) to track bags. RFID scanners use radio waves to capture data stored on RFID chips embedded in the luggage tag.
Delta already was providing mobile app users with information on their bags’ whereabouts—for example, indicating that a bag was scanned planeside at a particular airport—but the real-time information provided by the RFID scanner is much more detailed.
Then, Delta began testing facial recognition software to speed up bag drops at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, spending $600,000 on new specially equipped kiosks that would scan a traveler’s face to confirm their identity before accepting checked baggage.
And later this summer, Delta said, passengers will be able to use the same fingerprint technology during bag checks at Reagan Washington.