CHICAGO - The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Chicago Midway International Airport today to celebrate the launch of the innovative Automated Passport Control (APC) program, which uses BorderXpress kiosk technology developed by Vancouver International Airport (YVR). APC helps travelers move more quickly through the U.S. customs clearance process by entering information at a self-service kiosk - without pre-registration or a required fee. The implementation of this technology at Midway mirrors its implementation at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in July 2013, which has resulted in reduced wait times for passengers arriving at O'Hare's International Terminal 5.
"This technology reinforces Chicago's leading position as a world-class destination for business and leisure travelers and builds upon continued efforts to make Chicago O'Hare the most convenient global gateway in the world," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Having two of the first airports in the U.S. to implement this new technology demonstrates how serious we are about making Chicago the first, best and most welcoming city in the country."
The use of BorderXpress APC kiosks at O'Hare has significantly changed the passenger experience in the international arrivals hall by increasing the flow of passengers through primary inspection, reducing CBP wait times and misconnects for travelers. Comparing CBP data from Nov. 2012-Feb. 2013 (pre-APC) to Nov. 2013-Feb. 2014 (after APC), shows that average CBP wait times at O'Hare have decreased by 27.5 percent and that the average maximum wait time has decreased by about 15 percent. In addition, during the same time periods used, passenger volume at O'Hare's International Terminal increased by more than 100,000 (from 1.1 million passengers up to 1.2 million passengers).
Chicago was the first city in the country to utilize the APC technology. Today's announcement will make Chicago the first city in the country to have this expedited processing technology at two airports. In addition, Midway is the first airport to use the latest version of BorderXpress APC kiosks (Standard size), which provides a smaller form factor to reduce the space required for kiosks by 20 percent, while minimizing capital costs.
"We are very pleased that the APC program is now in place at Midway International Airport to help expedite the re-entry process for international travelers," said CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino. "With the continued partnership between the CDA, CBP and our airline partners, travelers arriving at both of Chicago's airports will experience shorter wait times, less congestion, and faster processing."
There are three carriers serving eight international destinations out of Midway:
Porter Airlines provides 32 flights a week to Toronto, Canada.
Southwest Airlines (through AirTran) flies 27 flights a week to three international destinations that include: Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Montego Bay, Jamaica.
And Volaris Airlines, Mexico's second largest carrier, serves four destinations in Mexico with 17 flights each week to: Guadalajara, Mexico; Morelia, Mexico;León/Del Bajio, Mexico and Zacatecas, Mexico.
More than 20 million passengers travel through Midway annually. And in 2013, more than 270,000 of those passengers passed through the customs area, representing a nearly 40 percent increase over 2012 numbers.
"CBP takes pride in its commitment to improving the passenger arrival experience and working with the City of Chicago and our airline partners," said Steven Artino, the acting director of CBP Chicago Office of Field Operations. "Automated Passport Control is a perfect demonstration of that commitment and partnerships at work."
APC was developed by Vancouver Airport Authority (YVR) and CBP. The APC system offers U.S. and Canadian passport-holding passengers an automated process through CBP's Primary Inspection area. Instead of filling out a declaration card, passengers who are eligible and choose to use APC can proceed directly to a self-service kiosk in the CBP area. Travelers are prompted to answer a series of questions at the touch screen self-service kiosk. Once passengers have completed the series of questions, a receipt is issued. Travelers then bring their passport, travel information and the receipt to a CBP officer for verification, ensuring the appropriate security measures are in place.
"Leveraging our deep history as an airport innovator, YVR's BorderXpress APC kiosks improve the passenger experience while making set-up and management as easy on airports as possible," said Craig Richmond, President and CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority. "We are very pleased to work with Midway to expedite the border clearance process and bring substantial benefits to all: shorter wait times, less congestion, and faster processing."
By removing the administrative responsibilities for a CBP officer to scan a traveler's passport and verify their paper Customs declaration, the time spent with a CBP officer is greatly reduced. At the same time, APC maintains the highest levels of protection when it comes to the handling of personal data or information.