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Information Technology: Automated Passport Control Kiosks Cut Airport Waits Up to 40%!

Airlines and Aviation

Detroit Metropolitan joins the growing list of North American airports with automated passport control kiosks. In their first month of operation, they cut waiting times at customs by as much as 40%.

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Check-in kiosks at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. Photo Credit: Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport Authority.

Automatic Passport Control (APC) is described as ‘an easy-to-use self-service kiosk that allows passengers to submit their declaration and biographic information electronically, and reduce the time they spend with a CBP [Customs Border Patrol] officer’.

Passengers arriving at the airport from another country that are eligible to use the system can go directly to a self-service APC kiosk in the passport control section of the airport terminal.

After having their passports scanned, arriving passengers have their photographs taken electronically.

Then they answer a few questions about themselves, their flight, and the things usually asked on Customs Declaration forms.

They are issued a receipt, which they take to a customs officer, who can focus on identity verification, admissibility, and their purpose of travel.

“These new APC machines help maintain the safety and security of our airport while improving efficiency,” says Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport Authority CEO Tom Naughton.

“With international passenger traffic increasing 23% the last 5 years at DTW, it is important that we stay ahead of the curve, and these new kiosks are a great example of how working together with our partners, we continue to improve our travelers’ airport experience here in Detroit.”

Thirty APC kiosks were installed at one of the airport's 2 terminals in June 2014. Another 30 APC kiosks will be installed at the airport's other terminal before year's end.

Hong Kong Smart ID Cards

Smart ID cards were introduced in Hong Kong in mid-2003, and there has been no looking back.

HKIDs serve as travel documents, and they have drastically reduced wait times at customs checkpoints for those that are eligible to use them, and I’m not just talking 40%.

Before smart HKIDs were introduced, it could take as long as 4 hours to cross the border between Hong Kong and China at the beginning and end of key holiday periods.

Now it rarely takes more than 30 minutes, and most of that time is spent walking across the border frontier that separates Hong Kong from China.

HKIDs are also valid for travel to and from Macau.

Why the difference? APC kiosks simply do on a computer screen what used to be done with pen and  paper.

Smart HKID cards, however, are embedded with information about the holder so no questions need to be asked. The required information is embedded in the card.

Traveler identity is electronically verified by thumb print. So passport control effectively takes roughly 30 seconds to complete.

I look forward to the day when electronic passports modeled after smart HKIDs are introduced! Only then can we finally say goodbye to long lines at airports.

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