Self-Service Bag Drop and Facial Recognition Testing has Begun at Delta

Delta Air Lines announced this morning that the airline plans to add biometric kiosks equipped with self-service bag drop at select airports.  The biometric kiosks with self-service bag drop will make their debut at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport in the coming weeks.  When they make their debut, the kiosks will first undergo customer testing.  During the testing period, only four kiosks will be in service.  However, in a press release, it appears that Delta is fully committed to adding more kiosks with biometric capabilities and self-service bag drop.

Delta’s Senior Vice-President of Airport and Cargo Service stated the following in an official press release,

“We expect this investment and new process to save customers time.  And, since customers can operate the biometric-based bag drop machine independently, we see a future where Delta agents will be freed up to seek out travelers and deliver more proactive and thoughtful customer service.”

Full press release

Four kiosks at one of Delta’s largest hubs will certainly do little to free up Delta agents.  However, as more kiosks come onboard, more customer service and ticketing agents will be freed up to assist passengers.  Realistically, if Delta was able to successfully roll out self-service bag drop kiosks, the employees that used to provide that service would likely be relocated or let go.  Automation usually results in someone being let go.  For now, given the limited amount of the kiosks slated to be in service, this won’t have much of an impact on customer service reps or passengers.

Delta’s the first airline in the United States to introduce self-serve bag drop kiosks.  Airlines throughout Asia and Europe have already introduced self-service bag drop kiosks.  In Japan, most of ANA’s ticketing desks have been replaced with self-serve bag kiosks.  Australian airlines have also introduced similar kiosks. When used as the primary method of checking passenger luggage, the kiosks are extremely efficient for both passengers and the airline.

Not only are these kiosks extremely efficient but airlines are hoping that facial recognition and fingerprint scans in the new kiosks will increase security at airports.  Delta’s new kiosks at Minneapolis-St. Paul feature facial recognition.  Passengers are required to scan their passport.  Once they’ve scanned their passport, the kiosk will analyze the customer’s face.  If the customer’s face is recognized, they will be allowed to continue to check-in.

Delta's first American-made Airbus a321 (Image: Delta Air Lines)

Delta’s first American-made Airbus a321 (Image: Delta Air Lines)


I’ve always been a fan of automation and new technology.  However, I’m somewhat old school when it comes to automation in the airline industry.  I like being able to talk to an agent if there’s a problem.  Ticketing agents are better at changing your flights during a delay or locating your lost luggage than a kiosk.  Kiosks are great when you need a boarding pass or need to check a bag.  Moreso, I’m still on the fence about biometric recognition as well.  I guess it’s the way of the future and with heightened security concerns, it’s probably going to become necessary.

What do you think about these new self-service kiosks?