US Airports Implement New Technology For Boarding China Bound Passengers

There are now new measures in place for any U.S. citizens wishing to travel to China. The Chinese government has imposed even stricter checks to see whether passengers are eligible to travel to the East Asian country.

US Airports Implement New Technology For Boarding China Bound Passengers
U.S. passengers on all China-bound flights will face new security measures. Photo: American Airlines

What is the new system?

According to View From The Wing, the National Immigration Agency in China will now require additional security checks for any U.S. citizens with flights booked to China. A new Interactive Advanced Passenger Information system is being used by airlines to ascertain extra passenger details to say whether a person can enter or leave China.

After passport data is entered, the IAPI system will tell airlines whether the passenger is allowed to board. However, there will be no forewarning of the verdict. It will be given on the day of travel.

The decision will come from Chinese government officials. Once the Chinese immigration authorities have the passenger’s details, they will then provide one of four verdicts. Only one of the decisions will see passengers board without delay.

These are the following options that the National Immigration Agency can provide:

  • OK to board – no additional procedures required and check-in will be as normal
  • Selectee – travel documents must be verified and then check-in will continue as normal
  • Insufficient data – travel documents will need to be swiped in order to ascertain a status
  • Do not board

In the last instance, the National Immigration Agency will need to be contacted to obtain clearance.

US Airports Implement New Technology For Boarding China Bound Passengers
Passengers will be told before leaving their destination if they are allowed to fly. Photo: 王之桐 via Wikimedia Commons

American Airlines’ new system

According to an internal notification obtained by View From The Wing, American Airlines started operating this system on 20th September 2019. The notification said:

“The iAPI program is designed to interactively provide passenger and flight information to China’s National Immigration Agency (NIA) for security screening purposes… the NIA will evaluate the information and provide authorization to board the passenger travelling on flights arriving into and departing China.”

Even though the demand comes from China, it’s a welcome change. Having systems which can determine if a passenger can enter a country or not prior to departure negates the hassle of turning them away when they arrive.

But more than this, the United States has recently had a spell of passengers bypassing immigration after their flight. This happened once to a Parisian passenger and once to passengers arriving in Chicago. Examples like this show that human security measures are not rigorous enough.

US Airports Implement New Technology For Boarding China Bound Passengers
The new measure hopes to prevent passengers being turned away when they arrive. Photo: Yusuke Kawasaki via Flickr

Australia and New Zealand already have similar systems in place. It is certainly a good idea in theory, but how many passengers will it really affect? Passengers are already required to get a visa to travel to China, which is an authorized legal document. What more does the immigration agency think might be missing?

What’s the importance of the system?

It is currently unclear as to specifically why the National Immigration Agency in China has ordered this regulation on U.S citizens.

Speaking more generally, the IAPI was introduced as a way to tighten security post terror attacks in 9/11. But measures like the ones China is sanctioning suggest that it fears security threats from U.S. citizens. The timing for the policy is unclear. Either way, airlines don’t seem to be taking offense.

What do you think of the latest security measures for entry to and departure from China? Let us know in the comments below!