Think air travel is abysmal these days? Well, if you haven’t flown internationally lately, you’re in for quite the cumbersome surprise: record-long wait times..
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that John F. Kennedy airport leads the nation with an average 36-minute customs line, up eight minutes (22 percent) from last year due to cuts in staff, according to a study by Global Gateway Alliance
And although U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to succumb to federal budget cuts, this hasn’t stopped people from traveling—and even more so. More than 3.2 million passengers went through JFK’s customs last year, up 12 percent from 2009.
The problem isn’t solely on the East Coast, either. Los Angeles International Airport has a 31-minute customs wait time while passengers out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport will wait for about 23 minutes on average.
But, this wouldn’t be America without the notion that money can buy you an Express Pass through the dreaded customs line. And why not? The same principles are applied at the security checkpoint for a mere $10 with JetBlue’s “Even More Speed” and expedited lines for Business and First Class flyers.
About one dozen businesses, including Miami airport, the city of El Paso, Texas and Jay Peak ski resort, have applied for a pilot program under the Cross Border Enhancement Act, which encourages alternative sources of funding to ease border delays, according to TravelMole.
The money contributed by these businesses will go toward hiring more staff, allotment in the budget for overtime pay and other services. After reviewing the applicants, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will choose five this summer.
A statement from the agency read:
“CBP is aggressively working to transform its air passenger processing efforts by automating travel documents, integrating mobile technology and advanced biometric solutions,” and is “working with the carriers and airport authorities on operational enhancements to shorten wait times.”
At least, in this case, the money won’t come directly from the passengers’ pockets.
That’s something the air travel industry hasn’t heard in a while!