TSA continues testing touchless checkpoint technologies

Local Press Release
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

DETROIT – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), in cooperation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Delta Air Lines, is beginning a new round of testing of a biometric facial comparison technology at the TSA checkpoint to verify the identity of select Delta Air Lines SkyMiles® members who are Trusted Travelers, which includes TSA PreCheck® and CBP Global Entry, Nexus and Sentri members.

This pilot is the next phase of ongoing testing of CBP’s Traveler Verification Service (TVS) to enhance passenger identity verification at the TSA checkpoint. The testing is voluntary for domestic and international travelers who would like to streamline their travel from curb to gate using secure, touchless biometric technology.

“Particularly now, in the midst of this pandemic, self-service technologies that enhance security and reduce physical contact seem worthwhile to test, and we are glad to support this initiative,” Detroit’s TSA Federal Security Director Steve Lorincz said. “This is one of many such pilots at domestic airports, and we continue new test parameters, this time with airline and interagency partners.”

The TVS technology compares a passenger’s live photo against a pre-staged gallery of photos that consenting passengers provided previously to the federal government for travel purposes, including passports, visas, CBP’s eGlobal Entry, and prior encounters. This pilot will also explore combining TSA’s Secure Flight prescreening results and CBP’s TVS identification results to provide enhanced identity and security information for use by screening officers at the TSA checkpoint.

Participation in the pilot is limited to Delta Air Lines SkyMiles® passengers who use Delta’s mobile app check-in process and are Trusted Travelers. Passengers will be notified of their eligibility and can provide consent by opting-in to participate during Delta’s mobile app check-in process. Passengers who choose to participate in the pilot will have a consent indicator on their boarding pass. 

During the DTW pilot, TSA will collect limited information from the consenting passenger’s identity document, as well as a live photograph of the passenger, passport number and country, flight information, Known Traveler Number, and whether the passenger successfully matched to a gallery photo. TSA will convert the information into an automated format, encrypt it, and transfer it for temporary analysis to the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, which will assess the effectiveness of this biometric facial identification technology.

TSA and CBP are committed to protecting the privacy of all travelers. Per the Privacy Impact Assessment published on January 28, 2021 DHS will destroy the data within 180 days.