Delta Air Lines ready for fingerprint boarding at Reagan National

WASHINGTON — Delta Air Lines is ready to roll out fingerprint ID recognition throughout Reagan National Airport, including gate boarding.

The airline had been testing fingerprint recognition at its Sky Club for SkyMiles members for the past month.

“Their ability to check in their luggage, their ability to enter the Sky Club as well as at the gates for boarding, all with the simple use of their fingerprint,” Delta’s vice president of airport customer service, east,  Sandy Gordon told WTOP.

Fingerprints are just one of several possible biometric identification methods and Delta has not settled on any single one.

“We are actually working with our technology partners to look at various types of biometric technology and to determine what is the best course to proceed for our customers across the Delta network,” Gordon said. “For example, in Minneapolis we have self-bag drop that uses facial recognition.”

Fingerprint boarding is voluntarily and will only work for passengers who have enrolled in the “CLEAR” expedited airport security program, Delta’s partner in the fingerprint ID program.

Enrollment in CLEAR costs $179 a year and includes recording member’s fingerprints in its database.

Other airlines are experimenting with biometric identification.

Earlier this month, JetBlue said it would begin biometric identification tests on flights from Boston to Aruba using facial recognition at gate check-in. That program verifies images through the Customs and Border Protection database.

“We are rapidly moving toward a day when your fingerprint, iris or face will become the only ID you will need for any number of transactions throughout a given day,” Delta COO Gil West said.

TSA’s PreCheck also collects and stores fliers’ fingerprints through its expedited security program, though it does not use fingerprint scanning at PreCheck lines.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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