Delta aims to replace boarding passes with fingerprints

It's currently testing a biometric ID program with its SkyMile members.

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Delta is expanding its biometric check-in feature that allows some customers to use their fingerprints instead of a boarding pass. The service was first launched at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in May and let Delta SkyMiles members enter the Delta Sky Club with their fingerprints rather than a physical ID. Now, those members can use their fingerprints to board their plane.

The airline is partnering with Clear for this service and SkyMiles members just have to enroll with Clear in order to take advantage of the feature at DCA. "It's a win-win program. Biometric verification has a higher level of accuracy than paper boarding passes and gives agents more time to assist customers with seat changes and other skilled tasks instead of having to scan individual tickets – and customers have less to keep track of as they travel through the airport," said Delta COO Gil West in a statement.

Earlier this year, Delta began testing a facial recognition system for checking luggage at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. And it's not the only group looking to use biometrics for airport identification. The US is looking at a widespread facial recognition-based security plan and Australia is working on equipping all of its international airports with facial, iris and fingerprint recognition to remove the need for passport checks.

Delta says the next step for its DCA fingerprint rollout is to allow passengers to use their prints for baggage check. "Once we complete testing, customers throughout our domestic network could start seeing this capability in a matter of months – not years. Delta really is delivering the future now," said West.