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January 20, 2016

Flying Into Fort Lauderdale? There's an App for That

It's one of the great clichés of our day, but “there's an app for that” seems to apply to just about everything under the sun. Now, there’s another app to add to the long lists in the App Store: Mobile Passport Control, from Florida's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Those making the trip to Fort Lauderdale—especially for those planning to attend this year's ITEXPO event located in Fort Lauderdale, set to run January 25 – 28 at the Broward County Convention Center—will now be able to take advantage of the new app, Mobile Passport Control, to help speed users through various security processes. Travelers need only download the app—available on Apple and Android devices—and then set up a profile containing all that relevant passport information. The app will then generate a quick response (QR) code that users present to the relevant customs officer.

With Mobile Passport Control, users can submit passport information and customs declaration forms to U.S. Customs and Border Protection from smartphones or tablets on arrival. That means no need to fill out the paper customs form, and allows those customers who would have been filling out such forms to instead move through a security lane specifically set up for such users. Better yet, since there's an increased focus on digital processing, that means lines move faster since there are fewer people filling out customs forms.

Fort Lauderdale joins just five other airports to offer such a service, including a second Florida airport, Miami International Airport. That number is expected to reach 20 by the end of 2016, though, so fast app travel may be coming to an airport near you soon.

It's been one of the great laments of air travel, and it's been going on since just after the events of September 11, 2001: air travel has gotten a lot more complex, difficult, and generally unpleasant for pretty much everyone who isn't flying a private plane since that day. Fast forward almost 15 years, and we're starting to hear about technology making things a little smoother. That's good news by any stretch—no one wants to hear about a new process that's making air travel even more cumbersome—and hopefully we can see more of this kind of thing as days go along. If air travel gets too complex and unpleasant, after all, people will start looking into alternatives like virtual reality, teleconferencing, and drone delivery systems to take the place of actual travel. That's going to do terrible things to large chunks of the economy, so certainly, more effort in this line is welcome.

We all want safer air travel, but we also want to be able to get on board a plane without enduring a multi-level, multi-hour check-in process. Technology can certainly be a help here, and further development might mean the difference between air travel carrying on and a lot of laid-off pilots.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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