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Summary Elimination or Reduction of Baggage Recheck for Arriving International Passengers Overview International flights arriving at U.S. airports transport 180,000 passengers per day on aver- age. Overall, one-third of these passengers proceed to a connecting international or domestic flight. Irrespective of whether passengers are connecting or terminating upon arrival to the United States, they proceed through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspection formalities. While the large majority of passengers have no issues whatsoever, some individu- als are referred to Secondary Processing for a more detailed examination related to immigra- tion, customs, agriculture, or other aspects of import laws/regulations. For connecting passengers, the 2006 CBP Airport Technical Design Standards (1) specify that checked bags are collected during the arrivals process immediately after Primary Pro- cessing. As a result, baggage recheck facilities are typically provided immediately after CBP processing to allow passengers with connecting flights to drop off checked bags for the next flight. However, the multiple times that bags are picked up and dropped off for connections have been cited as a customer service issue, and baggage recheck facilities impose space and operating costs on airports and airlines. Further, limited time is available for passengers to successfully make close connections. New technologies and processes present opportunities to explore ways to better manage border risks and allow international passengers to continue on to connecting flights without the impediment of a baggage recheck process. Therefore, the Airport Cooperative Research Program commissioned this study to examine in depth the potential to reduce or eliminate baggage recheck at U.S. airports. Study Approach Five methods of reviewing the potential to eliminate or reduce the need for baggage recheck for arriving international passengers were used: a detailed market size study, inventory of current procedures, case studies at four airports, alternative procedures definition, and test- ing. Overall, the approach included analyses of solutions based on a thorough risk review associated with primary border security risks. Information used for the study included quali- tative and quantitative analyses, data collection at airport sites, and stakeholder interviews. Current Context for Baggage Recheck To understand the proportions and absolute volume of passengers that use baggage recheck facilities, a detailed review of international traffic arriving at U.S. airports was conducted. It is estimated that in 2009, international connections accounted for some 23 million passengers 1
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2 Elimination or Reduction of Baggage Recheck for Arriving International Passengers carrying 31 million checked bags. The majority of connections are to domestic destinations in the United States (e.g., London Heathrow to Chicago O'Hare to Las Vegas), while a minority of connections are bound for international destinations (e.g., London Heathrow to Chicago O'Hare to Mexico City). With future growth in international traffic, the number of bags to be rechecked could grow to 60 million by 2025. Today's facility and processing model cannot handle the growing demand; new processing options are needed. A review of each step a passenger and bag are processed through at the top 30 inter- national airports in the United States was undertaken. As some airports have more than one CBP operation, a total of 45 Federal Inspection Service (FIS) facilities were reviewed. Of these, 42 of the FIS facilities have associated baggage recheck. The balance of the facilities do not offer this service and instead direct passengers to the regular airline check-in along with other passengers originating in the city. Four sites--HartsfieldJackson Atlanta (ATL), Dallas/ Fort Worth (DFW), Houston (IAH), and Guam (GUM)--already have reduced baggage recheck for a select portion of international-to-international connecting traffic. Airport Case Studies To better understand the impact of baggage recheck on infrastructure, local operating conditions, and current and alternative process flows, and to solicit the input of airlines, airports, CBP, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), four airports were selected as case study locations. The airports--DFW, ATL, San Francisco (SFO), and Seattle- Tacoma (SEA) international airports--represent a cross section of terminal facilities, airline alliances, and operating characteristics. Testing and Evaluating Potential Solutions Following a review of current requirements, operating environments, and best practices, and after consultation with stakeholders, seven alternative procedures were identified. The major criteria centered on the ability of CBP to effectively manage risks without the need for all checked baggage to appear in the FIS area. The alternative procedures are as follows: 1. Exemption of Bags from FIS by implementing procedures similar to existing international- to-international recheck reduction initiatives (i.e., bags are exempt from the FIS area, but processes are in place for on-demand bag retrieval). 2. New Airport/Airline Processes on Arrival that allow bags to be exempt from the FIS area and eliminate baggage recheck, yet provide CBP with additional risk management information. 3. New CBP Processes on Arrival that allow bags to bypass baggage claim and eliminate bag- gage recheck, as CBP officers can conduct a review of connecting bags at the ramp level. 4. Enhanced Pre-departure Information from the originating international airport for CBP review that reduces baggage recheck for those bags with the requisite information and/or X-ray. 5. Information Sharing with TSA Programs, e.g., X-ray images that are obtained from hold baggage screening of international transfer baggage so that bags can bypass the FIS area. 6. Leveraging Other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Programs, such as Global Entry, to reduce baggage recheck reduction for members of trusted traveler programs. 7. Door-to-Door Baggage Service by third-party shippers or courier services (UPS, FedEx, etc.) instead of passengers using airline checked baggage.
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Summary 3 A high-level evaluation model was compiled and evaluated through a peer review pro- cess composed of key stakeholders. Twenty-two independent criteria organized under four categories--CBP risk management, airport issues, airline issues, and market factors-- emerged as the key criteria to evaluate whether an alternative solution presented a net gain over the current system. Recognizing the difference between theoretical and operational application, the following five on-site tests were conducted to further evaluate the alternative procedures: · Radio frequency identification (RFID) timing of passengers and bags · Information sharing by TSA and CBP on connecting bags · Expansion of international-to-international recheck elimination processes · Minimum connect time modeling · Simulation modeling Findings and Conclusions The business case to eliminate or reduce baggage recheck is a highly complex and subjec- tive issue that requires assessment at the local and national levels. Airports and airlines need to assess the cost of introducing a new baggage flow and CBP must evaluate the trade-off between facilitation and risk assessment capabilities. Opportunities There is an opportunity to eliminate or reduce baggage recheck because both industry and government are receptive to the idea of change. An immediate solution exists for reduc- ing baggage recheck for international-to-international processes through the expansion of current programs at DFW, IAH, and ATL to other U.S. airports. The potential solutions for international-to-domestic processes are likely to follow as the risk assessment capabilities of CBP are augmented, likely through greater cooperation with TSA or enhanced pre-departure baggage information, to offset the value CBP would no longer receive from observing pas- sengers and baggage together in the FIS area. Challenges A reduction or elimination of international-to-domestic baggage recheck is much more challenging because of the potential for contraband to be introduced into the United States. This finding is primarily based on CBP's need to manage risks as people/goods enter into the United States versus transit through the United States. It is imperative of course that any newly designed and implemented processes, technologies, and/or procedures remain resilient to future threats. Pilot projects, similar to the international-to-international sector reduction, may help develop the best operational approach to providing new long-term solutions to baggage recheck while preserving the strong security initiatives that address risk management. Table 1 summarizes the impact of the alternative procedures on each of the four catego- ries and assigns an overall assessment value for sustainable baggage recheck elimination or reduction. In closing, baggage recheck elimination/reduction can be implemented in a risk-managed way. The implementation and further assessment of findings and conclusions of this report will help airports and CBP to deal with the growing amount of connecting traffic through major U.S. hubs, and further increase the time savings and satisfaction of passengers.
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4 Elimination or Reduction of Baggage Recheck for Arriving International Passengers Table 1. Assessment of each alternative procedure by category and overall. Management Assessment CBP Risk Demand Airport Overall Market Airline Alternative # Analysis Procedure In the near term for international-to-international transfers, this option is the best for airports and airlines to pursue with CBP. 1 Exemption of There is also existing precedent at four U.S. airports as well as Bags from Preclearance locations. However, the solution does not currently FIS provide CBP with the necessary capabilities to manage potential introduction of contraband to the United States. Introducing new processes presents major challenges to airport New Airport/ operators in terms of space, cost, and overall ability to deal with Airline 2 exceptions. Generally, airlines could incrementally deal with Processes on alternative processes on arrivals to meet most CBP requests for Arrival risk managing connecting flows. Although CBP recognized the risk mitigation value of a new alternative process for transfer bags, it questioned the utilization of New CBP the officers in a satellite location/process. This issue is particularly 3 Processes on pertinent at airports with a high variability of "eligible" transfer Arrival passengers throughout the day. All stakeholders emphasized that a reduction in bag claim/recheck should not be achieved at a net cost to the international arrivals process. To date, there are few examples of advance baggage information being shared for the purpose of border inspection. Augmenting this to include X-ray images, weight, and/or bag pictures could Enhanced provide CBP with additional capabilities to evaluate an Pre- elimination of baggage recheck for onward international 4 departure connections and potentially for onward domestic connections. Information Significant implementation issues remain, however, due to the types of technologies (e.g., international standard for multi-view X-ray image, CBP specific algorithm) and process evaluation needed to enable this process. In the short to medium term, CBP recognizes the potential for improved risk assessments with access to TSA X-ray images. However, improved X-ray image assessment (i.e., algorithm) Information capabilities are required, which is likely to push this procedure to Sharing n with a medium- to longer-term solution. Once resolved, this solution 5 TSA presents a significant opportunity to address all international Programs arrivals connecting onward, regardless of final destination. For airports, proximity of the TSA baggage matrix and the FIS area will facilitate an expedited retrieval process for bags referred to CBP Secondary. Although the use of Global Entry or other DHS programs to provide baggage recheck reduction is a good idea in concept, the major problem is the inability to confirm membership at point of Leveraging origin. The new Global Entry card with RFID technology is a 6 Other DHS positive step but electronic verification during check-in is still Programs challenged. The potential of having a non-Global Entry bag accidentally or intentionally inducted into a through-check process was cited as a risk by CBP for introducing a separate bag process for Global Entry members. Using express delivery has major benefits to reducing the actual demand on foreign airport systems for baggage reception and Door-to-Door delivery. However, a sizable market is not expected to be present 7 Baggage n/a n/a to take advantage of this capability. Airports and CBP are Service inconclusive in terms of this alternative procedure--primarily because it will not remove or reduce the need for a baggage recheck facility. = Positive Impact = Moderate Impact = Negative Impact