Marius Dobilas/ShutterstockLet’s be honest: Air travel already feels pretty invasive. Between the metal detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs, and gloved TSA pat-downs, it’s no wonder we all dread going through the airport security line. (By the way, these four letters will guarantee you a longer wait!) But thanks to this new measure, airport security could get a lot more interesting—and creepy.
If you have flown with JetBlue or Delta airlines lately, you might recall a new program that allows passengers to board their flights with a facial recognition scan. However, you might not have known that these systems were also the first phase of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “Biometric Exit” program, which has been in place since June of last year, Slate reports.
According to Slate, the DHS has partnered with Delta to make face recognition scans mandatory for certain international flights leaving Atlanta and New York. DHS is also working with JetBlue to develop a similar system for travelers flying from Boston to Aruba.
So, how does it work? Essentially, computers “match passport and visa photos of U.S. visa holders to photos taken at the airport from which they’re departing the country,” Mashable says. “This helps the U.S. make sure the people getting on the plane are the same people who hold those visas.”
Still, the two programs are slightly different. The Delta system compares a photo of the passenger’s face, taken by a kiosk at the boarding gate, to photos from State Department databases. It also checks passengers’ citizenship or immigration status. If you’re flying with JetBlue, you can voluntarily get your face scanned instead of using a physical ticket.
And these systems aren’t going away anytime soon; in fact, the program is expected to expand in the coming years. Homeland Security is currently negotiating to make face recognition a common feature across all American TSA security checkpoints, says U.S. Customs and Border Protection executive John Wagner.
If you ask us, facial recognition scans seem kind of fun… and futuristic. But before you even step foot in an airport, make sure you’re not making these mistakes before your next flight.