It was discovered that automated passport kiosks helped reduce wait times by a full third at New York’s JFK airport.
Perhaps the most annoying thing about traveling to a foreign country is the actual process of getting there. Waiting in customs on your way to a foreign country sometimes feels like it takes longer than the actual flight. And dealing with customs back in your own country can feel like an unbearable waste of time.
Thankfully, some airports are beginning to do something about that problem. USA Today recently reported that automated passport kiosks at New York-area airports have helped reduce wait times for flyers passing through customs. The study analyzed wait times for flyers over the first six months of this year and found that the automated kiosks helped reduce wait times by a full third at New York’s JFK airport. Likewise, wait times went down by more than 15% at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty Airport.
The kiosks help utilize the technology already found in US passports — RFID chips. Hopefully we will start seeing systems like these pop up at airports around the world, but until then, there are a few things you can do to help diminish your wait time in customs lines.
When you’re going through customs in a foreign country…
- Make sure you have your declaration forms properly filled out. In most cases, you should receive a declarations form from a flight attendant near the end of your flight. Use black ink and fill out the card as honestly and completely as you can to avoid any delays.
- Make sure you have your hotel information handy. If you can’t remember exactly where you’re staying off the top of your head, get out your reservation papers while you wait in line so you don’t have to fumble with them once you’re talking to a customs officer.
- Be honest. Avoid the temptation to make jokes, particularly when it comes to questions about illegal substances or firearms. You may think that one about pretending to be a coke dealer is a real hoot, but we can guarantee that the custom officers in China won’t agree.
- Make sure your visas and passports are up-to-date and safely packed before you get on the plane. Whatever you do, don’t put your passport in a checked bag, and don’t put it anywhere that it could easily get lost or stolen.