Passengers are now checking out the latest evolution in check-in technology at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). Spirit Airlines unveiled its automated self-bag drop experience with biometric photo-matching system, which represents a new paradigm for the U.S. airline industry. The redesigned ticket lobby is packed with industry-leading technology designed to limit face-to-face interaction and streamline flight check-ins.
Spirit’s self-bag drop system is now currently operating at New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Chicago O’Hare. The airline began developing the nation’s first biometric photo-matching solution for domestic air travel in 2019 with its partner Materna Intelligent Passenger Solutions (IPS). Spirit was also the first to pursue combining it with automated self-bag drop capabilities to reduce face-to-face interaction. Following an initial testing period at DFW with both manual ID check and biometric opt-in, the biometric photo-matching solution will eliminate the need to stop and hand government-issued identification to an agent when checking baggage.
Biometric photo-matching works in this way:
• Passengers start by tagging their own checked bags after checking in at the kiosk and then proceed to the automated self-bag drops.
• Passengers are advised of the biometric option after scanning their boarding pass at the self-bag drop unit. They may either opt in and continue unassisted or opt out for agent-assisted service.
• Once the passenger opts in, the unit instructs them to scan their ID on the built-in hardware.
• The unit compares its scan of the photo on the ID with a facial scan captured by its on-board camera, along with comparing identification information with the passenger’s reservation details. None of the data is transmitted to any government agency.
• A successful match initiates the rest of the automated bag check-in process. Passengers are instructed to place their bags on the conveyor belt attached to the unit, which then scans the bags, weighs them, accepts payment for any additional optional services, and sends them straight into their airport’s checked baggage system without any further action from the passenger.
“Dallas Fort Worth International Airport is committed to identifying and testing innovative solutions that deliver secure, efficient and frictionless customer experiences,” said DFW Airport vice president of Innovation Jodie Brinkerhoff. “We are excited to support our partner Spirit Airlines as it introduces a self-directed, biometrically enabled check-in and bag drop process—which ultimately provide the customer with greater control and fewer requirements for face-to-face processing and document exchanges.”
The self-bag drop system uses software capable of analyzing key physical features on more than 50,000 forms of ID from nearly 200 countries that a passenger could potentially use when travelling in the United States. Combined with the units’ scanning hardware, the software confirms the authenticity of an ID and rejects fraudulent documents. See related column page 50.