Facial recognition could speed passengers through airports

(Kris Van Cleave - CBS News) -- Your face may soon be the only thing you need to board a flight. Some airlines are testing facial recognition technology with the federal government.The idea is to ditch boarding passes.

A trial of facial recognition technology is being conducted by U.S. Customs and Jetblue. The airline wants to see whether it makes the boarding process faster.

The technology is supposed to be quick. It just snaps a photo, compares it to a government database of passport pictures, and if you're approved, you just board the plane.

"That is revolutionary in the airline industry, and Delta is right at the front of it," said Delta Senior VP Gareth Joyce.

Joyce tested a facial-recognition bag drop at Minneapolis' airport. Passengers will also be able to check luggage without an employee verifying their identity.

The airline is also testing facial-recognition at boarding gates in New York and Atlanta.

"You can literally go from curb to plane without having to interact with a human being if you so desire," said Joyce.

But even as the technology speeds passengers through the airport, some fear it's moving too fast.

"Implementation of the use of biometrics need to be scrutinized very closely," said Jeramie Scott of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Scott worries about the use of personal identifiers that cannot change.

"Increasingly as we consolidate biometric data into big databases and we use it more and more those databases will become targets and the risk of data breach increases greatly."

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports it's not using these devices to store photos of u-s citizens and insists privacy is a priority.

As for those long lines at security checkpoints, the TSA is not testing facial recognition but they are trying out fingerprints, instead of ID checks, at two airports.