Sea-Tac Airport’s international arrivals area can be cramped and frustratingly slow, with tired passengers snaking through long lines and sometimes waiting more than an hour for passport clearance.
But the Automated Passport Control kiosks that have been set up in Seattle and some other major North American airports can speed entry into the United States for U.S. and Canadian citizens (and certain visa-waiver travelers).
Sea-Tac Airport has 14 of the self-serve kiosks, which let travelers bypass the long passport-control lines. U.S. and Canadian travelers also submit their customs declarations through the automated machines, meaning there’s no need to fill out a paper customs form on the plane before landing. There also are Automated Passport Control kiosks in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York-JFK, Newark and other major U.S. airports, plus at airports in Vancouver, B.C., and Toronto.
The kiosks are funded through a public-private partnership between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and airlines, with Delta Air Lines and United Airlines being major players.
The automated clearance system can cut an arriving passenger’s wait time by 29 to 45 percent, said Delta, citing CBP statistics. Coming into Sea-Tac Airport recently on a Delta flight from London, I was cleared in about 10 minutes through one of the automated kiosks – a welcome change from previous long waits to get through passport control.
Passengers get on-screen instructions on how to display their passports and submit customs declarations through the kiosks, and are issued a receipt confirming their information which they then hand to a CBP officer.
The BorderXpress Automated Passport Control kiosks were pioneered in 2013 at the Vancouver (B.C.) International Airport. See the Customs and Border Protection website for more information on the kiosks.