When one thinks about airline travel, ease and efficiency are perhaps not the first things that come to mind. More than likely, a prospective passenger dreads the long lines at security, longer lines at baggage check and the interminable wait for the plane.
But for busy travel hub Midway International Airport in Chicago — which accommodated more than 1 million passengers in January 2014 alone, according to airport data — the recent implementation of automated kiosks will undoubtedly help speed and simplify travelers’ terminal experience. And in an age when many border security threats exist, the citizen eID kiosks will also help keep airports safe.
Automating Kiosks to Deal with Influx of Passengers
With an ever-expanding clientele bustling through its doors, Midway was having some difficulty both meeting the passengers’ needs and keeping things moving at a quick pace.
This proved especially true in customs, which witnessed a 40 percent increase in serviced passengers between 2012 and 2013, according to Chicago Business Journal.
For customers standing in lines at customs, the wait can be a long and brutal one. After all, the duties of a customs officer are more cumbersome than for domestic passengers, since the need to ensure things like immigration status and the lack of prohibited goods can take longer. If a passenger is found, for instance, with undeclared food, the customs response can slow others in line down.
But by automating a process at the beginning of the customs line — before passengers ever meet with an agent — the whole process promises to get faster.
Beginning this week, Midway unveiled a series of automated control kiosks at the start of its customs gate, Airports International reported. Whereas before now passengers would have to wait in a line to pre-register — which came with a fee — the machines will now efficiently authenticate the identities on passports and improve border security.
“We are very pleased that the [kiosks are] now in place at Midway International Airport to help expedite the re-entry process for international travelers,” said Rosemarie Andolino, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation.
Of course, at an airport, border security is of foremost importance. But the machines will not infringe on that, since in addition to authenticating their identity with the kiosks, all customs passengers will then have to proceed to customs agents.
A Proven Track Record of Automated Kiosk Success in Chicago
The move to install automated kiosks may seem like a bold one for a smaller airport like Midway, but the enterprise is only following in the footsteps of its much larger counterpart, O’Hare International Airport, whose recently automated machines have been largely successful.
According to a separate Chicago Business Journal piece, since their installation last year the kiosks have proven effective at speeding up operations at O’Hare. Whereas previously it took the average international customer 50 minutes to clear customs, that number has been reduced to 42 minutes since the kiosks were introduced.
While eight minutes may not seem like a lot, multiply eight by the number of international passengers to pass through O’Hare’s doors, and you have significant time saved.