Last updated: 07:00 AM ET, Tue March 31 2015

GGA Study: Customs Kiosks Improve Wait Times at JFK, Newark Airports

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | March 31, 2015

GGA Study: Customs Kiosks Improve Wait Times at JFK, Newark Airports

Photo by James Tourtellotte

International air travelers familiar with the New York City metropolitan region's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport are likely well aware of the struggle of getting through customs in a timely fashion.

However, a new study by the Global Gateway Alliance comparing wait time data from 2013 and 2014 shows that recently installed customs kiosks (at Terminals 1, 4 and 5 at JFK and Terminal B at Newark) — known as Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks — at the two airports have dramatically reduced lines and waits for arriving international passengers. 

"Wait times at terminals with kiosks dropped dramatically year to year, by 22 percent (6 minutes), whereas terminals without the kiosks held steady, experiencing on average a 0.43 minute reduction, which amounts to a marginal 1.54 percent," states the GGA press release.

While the improvement is encouraging, it isn't all that improbable considering that the New York area's busy airports had the longest customs wait times in the U.S. as recently as 2013.

The study highlights JFK Terminal 4, which was the worst offender, keeping passengers waiting more than two hours on average and more than five hours during peak periods. 

"The bottom line is, the kiosks have worked to dramatically improve a situation that was hurting the New York and U.S. brand," said Global Gateway Alliance chairman and founder Joe Sitt. 

"But the Federal Government needs to step up and bring the technology and manpower necessary to every international terminal," added Sitt. "New York is the leading international gateway to the nation, so it is essential that we create the right first and last impression for every single passenger."

With notable improvements being seen at airports like JFK and Newark, which combine to welcome more than 19 million overseas passengers annually, the APC kiosks are likely to become more prominent across the country and more popular among international air travelers. 

Currently, air travelers can access the kiosks at two dozen different U.S. airports.

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