Delta is to become the first US carrier to trial a self-service bag drop machine equipped with facial recognition technology.

The machine will be one of four self-service bag drops to be installed at Minneapolis St Paul International airport this summer.

The airline says that the biometric self-service machine will enable it to “match customers with their passport photos through identification verification, a first for US carriers”.

Commenting on the initiative Gareth Joyce, Delta’s senior vice president – airport customer service and cargo, said:

“We expect this investment and new process to save customers time. And, since customers can operate the biometric-based bag drop machine independently, we see a future where Delta agents will be freed up to seek out travellers and deliver more proactive and thoughtful customer service.”

The technology is one of a number of innovations by the carrier, aimed at streamlining airport processes. Last year Delta introduced a luggage tracking service to its mobile app, and the airline recently implemented a new system of boarding lines at Atlanta airport.

Delta says it will collect customer feedback during the self-service bag drop trial, and “run process analyses to ensure that this lobby enhancement improves the overall customer experience”. The carrier points to studies showing that self-service bag drops “have the potential to process twice as many customers per hour”.