Recently-installed automated passport U.S. Customs kiosks at John F. Kennedy International Airport have significantly reduced wait times for arriving international passengers, according to a new survey by Global Gateway Alliance (GGA) today.
The survey also found that Newark International Airport now has the shortest wait-times among the five busiest U.S. airports for international passenger traffic.
In light of the data, GGA -- which put together the data based on publicly available information from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol -- is calling for the automated kiosks at all international terminals at New York area airports and for U.S. Customs manpower additions to continue focusing on driving wait times down.
Specifically, the new automated passport control kiosks, 40 of which were installed in October 2013, helped cut average wait times by more than half at Terminal 4 at JFK International Airport – from more than 36 minutes to just 17. This result came even though the total number of international passengers arriving through the terminal jumped by more than 300,000 over the same period last year.
Just last year, Terminal 4 had the worst wait times of the surveyed airports, with average maximum lines of 2 hours and extremes of 3 to 5 hours. Average wait times at the other JFK terminals were also reduced year over year, but by substantially smaller amounts. Terminal 1 received 16 automated kiosks in January.
JFK’s Terminal 4 also witnessed a major reduction in wait times when the greatest number of flights arrived. In fact, wait times when eight or more flights were arriving at the same time dropped by an estimated 29 minutes compared with last year, and maximum averages were cut by 60 minutes.
GGA’s analyses demonstrate that additional staffing during these influxes of heavy passenger traffic helped alleviate wait times. "It's good news for millions of passengers that the public pressure brought on CBP is driving down wait times, but the federal government has to make our airports a real priority to fix the problem for the long term," said Joe Sitt, GGA's chairman.
He said that means bringing new technology to automate the passport process to all of the terminals in the New York market and providing adequate staffing to serve the biggest international arrivals airports in the country.
"Our airports are too important to the region’s and the nation’s brand to allow the horrific wait times passengers endured last year," Sitt said.
Key GGA Findings
Overall, average wait times at JFK were down more than 10 minutes since the installation of the new automated kiosks in October.
Newark Airport had the shortest average U.S. Customs wait time at nearly 17 minutes while Miami International Airport had the longest wait times at more than 26 minutes.
While every terminal saw a small reduction in wait times, JFK's Terminal 4 with the new kiosks had the greatest reduction in wait times -- down more than 19 minutes.
Maximum wait times still range at nearly an hour at both JFK and Miami airports.
Newark Airport saw a reduction of more than six minutes in average wait time over last year
GGA's methodology taps into available public data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This data shows the number of passengers processed on flights arriving in each hour of each day based on time to clear Passport Control.
GGA was established to address the major challenges facing the New York metropolitan region’s airports and related infrastructure.