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Delta Airlines to roll out facial recognition software in Detroit next year

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The company says Detroit was a natural second place to install new facial recognition software because it's an important international hub.

Delta Airlines will officially introduce facial recognition software for passengers on international flights at Detroit Metro Airport in early 2019.

The airline rolled out the software at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Thursday.

Trebor Banstetter, a director of communications at Delta, says the decision to make Detroit the second place to use facial recognition was a natural one. They've been testing it out at the airport since July.

“Detroit is a very important international hub for Delta, and you know, from Detroit, we connect passengers to points really all over the world,” he says.

The software saves time at airports by eliminating the need for people to show their passport over and over again. Passengers will be able to register online with their passport number when they check into their flight. Then, they simply have to approach a camera screen and show their face at checkpoints where they would normally show their passport.

“In addition to making the travel process a lot more smoother, it actually is a security benefit as well, because it's very good at matching the face to the photograph that's on file with the passport,” Banstetter says.

Passengers can opt out of the program, but Delta estimates that during testing phases only about 2% of people flying out of Atlanta each week chose not to participate.

Banstetter also emphasized that the new software does not mean passports are no longer necessary; passengers will still be required to have their passport with them while boarding international flights.

Maya Goldman is a newsroom intern for Michigan Radio. She is currently a student at the University of Michigan, where she studies anthropology and writing. During the school year, Maya also works as a senior news editor and podcast producer for The Michigan Daily.
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