People who fly Air France-KLM at Bush Intercontinental Airport can choose to have their face scanned, instead of using passports and boarding passes. If the scan matches the photo on file with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, travelers don't have to show documents to board.
Mary Hasket is the CEO and co-founder Blink Identity which developed a sensor that uses facial recognition technology to identify people at a full-walking speed in any lighting condition. It's used to eliminate standing in line at large stadium-type events.
She said while traveling last week, this type of technology was used at JFK airport in New York. Also, in Atlanta.
"Other airlines have already adopted it. I think there's 15 or 16 airports in the United States who are using this technology right now. And, they're expecting it will be deployed to 99 percent of US airports within the next four years," said Haskett.
Michigan State University facial recognition expert Anil Jain said he's personally used similar technology with Delta airlines at the Detroit airport on an overseas flight.
He says the reason why airlines will use it, is to confirm the person issued a boarding ticket is actually the person who is boarding the flight.
He said there's no real way for an airline agent to know who's who among hundreds of passengers boarding a flight.
"Instead of somebody manually checking the boarding card, you simply scan the boarding card, present your face in front of a camera and then they pull up your photo from the flight manifest, and then they compare the two photos and if you get a green light you can board the flight," said Jain.
Despite being in the industry, Haskett said she’s on the fence about how facial recognition technology is deployed because it's so easy to abuse.
"They know who I'm consorting with and you can start to put together, sort of a very telling-privacy invading dossiers of everybody's daily life," said Hasket.
She said you want to be careful about mass surveillance no matter what format is used (including fingerprints or iris) to track people. As long as it's voluntary and opt-in, she's ok with it.
Air France-KLM passengers can opt out and have a boarding agent manually process them.