Facial recognition technology coming to Sea-Tac Airport as early as the close of 2019

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SEATTLE – Facial recognition technology could be coming to Sea-Tac International Airport as early as the close of 2019.

Delta Airlines is hoping to implement Biometric Boarding for international travel after a December 10 Port of Seattle Commission meeting.

Delta has already launched the facial recognition technology in major cities like Atlanta, Detroit and New York.

The technology uses a person’s biological measurements, or physical characteristics, to identify them. Delta travelers have the choice to opt-in to use the technology where it’s available right now, or use traditional travel documents and boarding passes.

The Commission says it can make travel safer and more efficient during check-in. Locals at the airport said they believe it’s worth bringing to Seattle.

“It was like so simple,” says Margarito Ramirez, who travels to Mexico once a year. “It was like walking through, they check your face.”

“We’re living in different times now, so anything that would be helpful to make the whole process and the airport experience better would be good,” said Philip Strnard of Port Townsend.

During a pilot program at LAX, cameras used biometric facial recognition to match people’s unique features to federal pictures already on file.

The Commission has been discussing the technology in public study sessions since September, also raising concerns that include privacy, racial equity, cyber security and civil liberties.

Kent and Marcia Martin of Sammamish are frequent travelers who say those concerns don’t phase them during travel.

“We’re both clear members so that’s kind of what they use for that now anyways,” said Kent.

“I think all of our information is in a technology cloud somewhere, so does this seem more invasive than any other application that we’re using as a frequent traveler? No, it doesn’t freak me out,” said Marcia.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will start using facial recognition for international travelers flying into Sea-Tac by the end of 2020.

The federal agency says the software is secure.

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