August 31, 2009

McCarran joins U.S. airports using Customs kiosks

Nice picture of unit by KIOSK as deployed in McCarran Airport by Department of Homeland Security.

By Richard N. Velotta (contact)
Sunday, Aug. 30, 2009 | 2 a.m.


Travelers registered with the government can use these scanners for quicker entry to the United States at 20 airports.

Airports that now have Global Entry kiosks
Boston-Logan International Airport
Chicago O’Hare International Airport
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
Detroit Metropolitan Airport
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Honolulu International Airport
John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York
Los Angeles International Airport
McCarran International Airport
Miami International Airport
Newark (N.J.) Liberty International Airport
Orlando International Airport
Orlando-Sanford International Airport
Philadelphia International Airport
San Francisco International Airport
San Juan-Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (Puerto Rico)
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Washington-Dulles International Airport
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McCarran International Airport
You’ve seen them in “Mission: Impossible” and the James Bond movies, those facial-feature scanners and fingerprint pads that give people access to high-tech secret stuff.

Now, McCarran International Airport has such a gadget for people to get into the United States.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has installed scanning devices at McCarran’s Terminal 2 as part of a pilot program to expedite low-risk travelers through customs if they’ve been preapproved by the government.

Travelers must first register for the program, be photographed and have their fingerprints scanned, in order to be added to Customs’ database. Then, when they travel, they can walk up to the Customs’ kiosk at the airport, be scanned to confirm their identities through facial recognition technology and fingerprints, and get a pass that allows them through customs. Some travelers will still be selected randomly to be cleared by a customs officer.

The system, called Global Entry, is part of a program overseen by the Homeland Security Department.

Global Entry has been around since last summer at seven major international gateways — Atlanta, Chicago’s O’Hare, Houston Intercontinental, Los Angeles, New York’s John F. Kennedy, Miami and Washington-Dulles international airports.

The kiosks went live Monday at McCarran as part of the second wave of installations at 13 airports.


Travelers who want to use Global Entry must first register with the government, said Cristina Gamez, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Los Angeles.

“It’s for legal permanent residents of the United States, low-risk travelers with no criminal history and no violations” of customs regulations, she said.

Once the application is completed, the traveler will be given an appointment at the airport for a personal interview to complete the application process. That’s when photos are taken and fingerprints are scanned.

And that’s when you have to pay for the privilege of using the system — it’s $100, but it’s good for five years.

With the traveler’s biometrics stored in a database, a Global Entry kiosk can be used upon entry into the United States at any of the 20 participating airports.

Travelers using the kiosk present their machine-readable U.S. passports and have their faces and fingers scanned. Questions about destinations and declared items are prompted on a computer screen.

People who have used the kiosks say the process takes a little over 30 seconds to complete.

Once the scans are complete and the questions answered, the kiosk prints a receipt directing travelers to baggage claim and the exit, unless they are selected to go to a customs officer.

The U.S. Travel Association, which has pushed for a simplified customs process for years, says Global Entry and streamlining through biometric screening should improve the entry process while maintaining a high level of security.

Roger Dow, president and CEO of the association and a frequent speaker at tourism conferences, has said that in addition to providing technological innovations, the United States must do a better job of explaining security policies and providing a more welcoming message to international travelers to keep pace with other countries that are more inviting to travelers.

The association also is encouraging the government to help other countries participate in the program.

Travelers wanting to enroll must submit information in an online application at

As of Wednesday, about 18,000 people had enrolled and 57,000 entries into the United States using the system had been documented.

From January through July, 671,689 passengers arrived in Las Vegas on international flights. Nonstop flights routinely arrive from London; Seoul, South Korea; Frankfurt, Germany; and several cities in Canada and Mexico. A new daily nonstop flight from London by British Airways is planned this year.

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Posted by staff at August 31, 2009 09:07 AM