Boston Logan International Airport - Rolling out the high-tech welcome mat | SITA

Boston Logan International Airport - Rolling out the high-tech welcome mat

As the number of international passengers continues to rise, it is important that we use technology to help keep Boston Logan International Airport an efficient, safe and secure gateway to the United States. We purchased and installed SITA’s APC kiosks to keep the wait times at Logan among the lowest in the country for major international airports.

Thomas P. Glynn , CEO, Massport
02 October 2015

Nobody likes a long wait after a long flight

Automation is transforming the travel experience, and nowhere is this more evident than at international borders. Over the past decade, e-passports, biometric readers and secure document scanners have allowed travelers to self-process through border control at an increasing number of airports, seaports, and land borders across the globe. 

In the US, the number of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-approved Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks is expected to grow nearly four-fold from 2015 to 2018*. And for good reason. According to projections from the U.S. Department of Commerce, international travel to the United States will reach 88.3 million visitors by 2019. This is more than 18 million additional visitors compared to 2013 – an increase of 27 percent.

In response to this ever-growing volume of international travelers, longer immigration queues and limited space in its Federal Inspection Service areas, Boston’s Logan International Airport introduced APC kiosks in July 2014 to help speed travelers through the arrivals process while maintaining the highest standards of security. “As the number of international passengers continues to rise, it is important that we use technology to help keep Boston Logan International Airport an efficient, safe and secure gateway to the United States,’’ said Thomas P. Glynn, CEO, Massport. “We purchased and installed the kiosks to keep the wait times at Logan among the lowest in the country for major international airports.’’

SITA’s own Passenger IT Trends Survey found that U.S. air travelers rank time-consuming security procedures among the top two areas for improvement.  Since the initial deployment, BOS has moved to the next generation APC 4.0, which increases eligibility from  the 38 “visa waiver” countries outlined by Customs and Border Protection to virtually all international arrivals, including those traveling on a business or tourist visa, border crossing card, and airline crew members. 

Not just kiosks, SITA iBorders®

SITA’s APC Kiosks enable the clearing of large numbers of passengers in record time – a crucial factor for Massport’s Boston Logan International Airport which has at times had to hold passengers on arriving aircraft until its immigration hall had cleared. Massport has been a SITA customer for more than 12 years as a satisfied user of airport solutions, including the AirportConnect Open platform which enables airports, airlines and ground handling agents to access their respective IT applications in real time on shared, common-use equipment. So it comes as no surprise that they once again turned to SITA for a turnkey solution to improve resource efficiency at the border.

Enter the APC Kiosk – SITA’s secure, self-service alternative to traditional resource-intensive manual border control solutions. For the US CBP, automating the border control process ensures high standards of security by combining biographic and biometric identity verification with checks against watch lists and risk assessment data while improving efficiency by moving some manual tasks away from immigration officers.

As a long-time SITA customer, Massport also knows it can rely on SITA’s support infrastructure, including extensive management and monitoring tools provided for border supervisors and SITA's extensive onsite and remote maintenance and support services. SITA experts proactively monitor infrastructure, identifying and resolving problems often before they impact services – ensuring Massport’s automated border is always available and operating at maximum capacity.

Travel is up, but wait times are down

Despite a 23-percent increase in traveler volume at Boston Logan, wait times have decreased by nearly 5 minutes or 19 percent.**  This is due in large part to the jump in automated border entry usage – nearly half of all international arrivals are now processed through APC (43%) and Global Entry (5%) – up from a mere 3% in 2014.

A unique end-to-end solution

APC Kiosks are part of the “Interaction” layer within SITA’s iBorders® border security portfolio.  This unique, end-to-end SITA solution optimizes traveler interactions at the border, identifies high-risk travelers, reduces document and identity fraud and lowers the cost of dealing with unwanted and inadmissible persons. It also improves the facilitation and speed of processing low-risk passengers, enabling skilled immigration officers to put their focus where it is most needed.   SITA’s iBorders® portfolio possesses four (4) foundation layers:

  • Information - comprehensive traveler information from airlines and other carriers, as well as integration with external data sources such as government databases
  • Intelligence - powerful risk assessment tools combined with travel document and identity verification transform traveler data into actionable intelligence
  • Interaction - pre-clearance for passengers in advance, secure risk-assessed self-service border clearance for travelers holding biometric travel documents
  • Insight - comprehensive metrics on border performance combined with predictive analytics to enable risk-based allocation of resources and management of border operations

SITA solutions

The APC Kiosk is a multimodal biometric system that utilizes three simple steps to speed up processing at the immigration checkpoint and alleviate capacity issues: capture and validation of passport data, capture and verification of biometric data and capture of any required immigration declaration data. It is designed to be intuitive, ergonomic and easy to use, even for individuals who travel infrequently. Its extensive security features are layered to ensure that only travelers whose identities and low-risk status have been reliably verified go through to the next step. It is low maintenance, has a small footprint and is easy to deploy and operate. Key features include:

  • Quick biometric verification. Automatic face finder with automatic height adjustment of illumination and camera module. System detects ideal height for face capture, ensuring compliance with ICAO recommendations. Allows field-of-view coverage of people in wheelchairs without use of tilt or wide-angle lens to avoid distortion.
  • Quality assured biometric data collection. Facial and fingerprint recognition engine to ensure correct authentication against credentials on passport chip or central databases, allowing for 1:1 (One to One) and/or 1:N (One to None) matching process.
  • Ergonomic usability to the traveler. Supports user through all stages of verification, providing instructions and feedback such as configurable text, pictures and animations.

Global - and growing

In addition to the 40 APC Kiosks at Boston Logan International, many other international airports in the USA – including JFK New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia and San Diego – and abroad have biometric immigration kiosks provided by SITA.

SITA’s iBorders® portfolio has been developed in partnership with our government customers over the past 20 years. With around 30 governments globally using SITA’s iBorders® systems and capabilities to keep their borders secure and transform their border security operations, iBorders® is the most widely deployed border security portfolio available anywhere in the world.

For further information, please contact us at or visit SITA for airports.

*Acuity Research: The Global Automated Border Control Industry Report: Airport eGates & Kiosks

** Customs and Border Patrol Airport Travel & Tourism Dashboard, May 2015

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