Dallas/Fort Worth installs self-bag-drop and biometric photo-matching solution

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Spirit Airlines has installed an automated self-bag-drop and biometric photo-matching system at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in Texas.

The software that operates the self-bag-drop system can analyze key physical features on more than 50,000 forms of ID from nearly 200 countries that a passenger could use when traveling in the US. Combined with the unit’s scanning hardware, the software confirms the authenticity of an ID and rejects fraudulent documents.

The biometric photo matching works by asking passengers to tag their own checked bags after checking in at the kiosk and then proceed to the automated self bag drops. Customers are advised of the biometric option after scanning their boarding pass at the self-bag-drop unit. They may either opt out for agent-assisted service or opt in and continue unassisted. Those who opt in are instructed to scan their ID on the built-in hardware. Here, the unit uses its camera to compare its facial scan of the passenger with the scan of the photo on the ID. The system then compares this identification information with the passenger’s reservation details. A successful match initiates the rest of the automated bag check-in process, where the passengers are instructed to place their bags on the conveyor belt attached to the unit for bag scanning, weighing and payment.

The airport’s ticket lobby has been redesigned to limit face-to-face interaction, streamline flight check-in and get passengers to their flights more quickly. Spirit Airlines’ testing data reveals that the new procedure drops average processing time to just 70 seconds per passenger, reducing time spent at bag check by approximately 30%.

Spirit began developing its biometric photo-matching solution for domestic air travel in 2019 with Materna Intelligent Passenger Solutions (Materna IPS) North America. The airline combined 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 is intended to eliminate the need to stop and hand government-issued identification to an agent when checking baggage.

Spirit’s self-bag-drop system is also currently operating at New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Chicago O’Hare. It was recently recognized for two awards – the 2021 Best Airport Innovation in the APEX/IFSA Awards, and a Gold Stevie Award for the Best New Transportation Product or Service in the 2021 American Business Awards.

Mike Byrom, vice president of airport services for Spirit Airlines, said, “We’ve been on a mission to find opportunities to continue improving every facet of the guest experience, to include investing in automation and self-service to streamline the travel journey so guests spend less time in lobbies. Our guests are tech savvy and they appreciate options. Also, limiting touchpoints and unnecessary face-to-face interactions is currently changing the way airports operate.”

Jodie Brinkerhoff, vice president of innovation at DFW Airport, said, “Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is committed to identifying and testing innovative solutions that deliver secure, efficient and frictionless customer experiences. 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 provides the customer with greater control and fewer requirements for face-to-face processing and document exchanges.”

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