Local News
5:45 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

CLT Airport Installs 24 New Passport Kiosks To Shorten Lines

Two dozen automated passport control kiosks were installed at Charlotte Douglas International Airport last week.
Credit Tasnim Shamma

International passengers going through Charlotte Douglas International Airport should now spend less time in line. 

The airport installed 24 new automated passport control kiosks last week. It's expected to reduce wait times by half, from 25 minutes to just under 10 minutes.

CBP Area Port Director Patty Fitzpatrick shows off how to use a kiosk at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Tuesday.
Credit Tasnim Shamma

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Area Port Director Patty Fitzpatrick shows off how to use the new kiosks: "The screen will pretty much prompt you for what questions you need to answer. It says what language do you speak. It's programmed with ten languages; we might get a few more. The picture's going to show you exactly what to do – you're going to slide your passport into the machine."

After it snaps a photo, it asks a few customs questions:

"Are you bringing anything over $10,000? Duty Free? Anything you want to declare? Do you have any fruits or vegetables? Have you ever been on a farm? Have you touched or handled any animals?" 

You hit submit, it prints off a receipt...

"If it has an X on it, that means we want to talk to you and ask you a few more questions, so you're going to go to one line," Fitzpatrick says. "If it does not have an X they're going to ask some enforcement questions and determine that this passport really does belong to you. And then you're free to go and get your luggage. Takes about 30 seconds for the machine, takes about 10 minutes in line. That's it."

She says the system helps her officers work more efficiently.

"There's probably 80 or 85 percent of the population -- you know they're law-abiding, they're not bringing in anything they're not supposed to," she says. "For enforcement purposes, it allows us to spend more time with the people that we do want to talk to."

Charlotte is the sixth U.S. airport to install these kiosks, which cost $2.5 million to install and maintain. Currently, only U.S. citizens and Canadians can use the machines. Next month, citizens from about 40 countries -- mostly in Europe – will also be allowed to use the self-service kiosks.