YVR Cuts Wait Times for Fliers to USA

Photo credit: iambents | Flickr

Photo credit: iambents | Flickr

Frequent fliers know the drill.  You’re already late for a flight out of YVR to the U.S. when you find yourself stuck in a massive lineup waiting to clear U.S. customs and immigration.  As the minutes tick away, the line crawls forward.

Those days may soon thankfully be a thing of the past.  Self-service kiosks for Canadians traveling to the U.S. are scheduled to be introduced at the Vancouver International Airport by the end of May.  The service is already available for Americans flying to the U.S. out of the airport.

The automated kiosks are similar to those already in place for Canadians returning to Canada, according to an article in the Vancouver Sun.  Those were introduced in 2009, during airport overhauls prior to Vancouver’s Olympic Games, and have succeeded in significantly reducing delays.  Passengers simply scan their passport, then feed their customs declaration into the machine, which spits out a copy for display to a waiting border agent.

The new U.S. machines appear to work slightly differently.  After scanning their passports, passengers navigate a touch screen with a series of customs declaration questions.  They then get a receipt which must be shown to a border officer.

Naysayers contend that this just adds an extra step to the immigration process because it’s still necessary to visit a border officer after using the machine.  According to officials, however, the automated system speeds up administrative details, leaving human officers to do a quick risk assessment.

Vancouverites can take pride in knowing that the shiny new blue and polished aluminum kiosks were made in their own backyards.  The hardware and software for the machines are made by a Vancouver company.  Versions have already been sold to Toronto and Montreal, according to the Vancouver Sun.  And a shipment of 32 self-serve U.S. immigration kiosks is expected to go into operation at Chicago O’Hare airport this summer.

Want more updates on Vancouver and beyond? Follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza.


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