Last week, my wife and I were about to land in Atlanta when the flight attendant announced that all passengers who normally fill out the blue customs and immigration form will no longer need to fill that out in Atlanta. They said that a couple of weeks earlier, the CBP had installed Automated Passport Control kiosks for those passengers so they would fill out all of that information on the kiosk instead of the form. Here is the website talking about the implementation at Atlanta.
Naturally, I was a little curious to see what kind of time savings that presented. I also was curious to see if this had any impact for Global Entry passengers like our family. The good part was that we were traveling with friends who did not have Global Entry so we would be able to at least get an idea of how fast the clearance was with these kiosks vs Global Entry (at least during a very slow part of the day for international arrivals).
When we entered the area, we saw that the kiosks were all over the place, but with plenty of room for travelers to get in to punch in their information. In fact, according to the CBP, up to four travelers with the same address could use the one machine. It seemed that things flowed quite well with passengers filling out the information (that they would have normally filled on the form) on the kiosk. They had to insert their passport, approve a few pieces of information and then their form spit out to take to a CBP officer at the desks. This eliminates the need to have that information submitted and scanned at the counter.
For Global Entry travelers, do not worry. This process is still not faster than Global Entry and travelers (without GE) still need to go to an officer (although for a much shorter stop than before). We beat our friends by a good 20 minutes. Not only that, but we still got to go to the front of the line in the customs area, so that is a little bit extra of a savings in line as well.
But, for those passengers without Global Entry, it does seem that this will make for shorter lines, especially if you can get to a kiosk and fill out the information quickly. It also means less time spent at the immigration counters (which never seemed that long anyway). At the very least, it should provide for slightly better times clearing the passport control area since people will not be taking up valuable time trying to fill out their form at the counter because they forgot to do it earlier.
How many of you have used these kiosks? According to CBP, these kiosks provide a time savings of 20-40% – have you found that to be your experience?