What could possibly go wrong?
But as the Electronic Frontier Foundation told Bloomberg, there are significant privacy and security concerns. As fast as cybertechs create supposedly secure systems, hackers find ways to get around them. This thumbprint system converts the print to a digital sequence, but hacking the encryption code could leave the person at the other end of the thumbprint vulnerable.
So far the airline has added the system at four airports to let travelers access luxury waiting areas. To use it for the boarding process will take some time, and approval by the federal government.
Smartphones are already moving to a variation of this, using the owner's fingerprint to unlock phone access and to make payments via Paypal. So in many ways, the horse has probably left the barn, even though a fingerprint is as easily hacked as any other security measure. As my colleague Jon Healey pointed out, the underlying vulnerability here has less to do with Internet security - how's that for an oxymoron? - than it does with trust. When we expect personal data loaded into the Internet to remain private, we expect too much.
Those nervous about providing hackers - both criminals and the federal government - with ever more private information have reason to be skeptical about claims of cyber safety. And we should all think twice about willingly submitting fingerprints via electronic devices, because you know somebody somewhere is figuring out a way to retrieve them.
And when the reason to cough up the data is to save a few seconds boarding an airplane, you have to wonder where our priorities lie.