The future is here…

There’s a special hatred reserved for the snaking, never ending maze known as immigration at a major US airport. And when you finally make it to the end after a long day of flying, it doesn’t get much better. Agents aren’t particularly known for their enthusiasm or sense of humor. A new and improved biometric system is being trialled, which may soon make US immigration a true breeze, that is, if you don’t already have Global Entry

a blue passport on a tableWhat’s Happening

US Customs and Border Patrol are partnering with airlines to trial biometric boarding and immigration procedures. Last year saw successful biometric boarding trials with Delta, JetBlue and British Airways in airports across the country, where customers no longer needed boarding passes to board a plane. Photos were taken at check in, and passengers could then walk right onto the plane, without flashing ID. The program was such a hit, it’s being expanded to arrivals as well.

a group of people walking with luggageHow It Works

Passengers arriving into the US would have their photo taken at their departure point check in. The photo would then be transmitted to the CBP in the US and matched up with their current relevant passport photo. After landing in the US, a passenger would head to immigration without needing to pull out their passport. You’d simply walk through a biometric scanner to confirm your identity, then answer a few simple questions from immigration. And no – you wouldn’t have to wrangle with the finicky finger print scanner either. Early reports indicate the new system could screen 10 passengers per lane, per minute.

30 Rockefeller Plaza skyline at sunsetWhere It’s Happening

The US Customs and Border Patrol Agency (CBP) hopes to offer this at 20 major airports by the end of 2018. For now, British Airways customers traveling on BA 117 from London to New York will experience the first early trial. Presuming all goes well, safety is ensured and wait times are significantly decreased, it’s widely expected this will roll out shortly thereafter in more and more airports. Early airports are said to include New York JFK, Los Angeles International, Boston Logan, Houston Hobby and more. We can only hope!

What do you think of these new trials?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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    1. Clear only covers departures and is only for permanent residents or citizens. This is for everyone arriving regardless of origin or country.

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