International passengers arriving in the United States and connecting to another destination collect their baggage after they clear U.S. Immigration and before clearance by U.S. Customs and Agriculture with the exception of pre-cleared passengers. Non-cleared passengers reclaim their baggage before carrying it through to an area for inspection. At the same time, passengers are potentially monitored or questioned by federal officials with respect to various issues relating to their trip purpose and duration. During this process, the airline handles the passenger baggage several times. In reality, only a very small percentage of passengers are subjected to secondary processing. If the baggage for these passengers could be quickly identified and retrieved at the request of federal officials, this would permit other passengers to continue their journey unimpeded through the terminal without having to wait for and recheck their baggage. If this streamlining were possible, there could be a potential for improving operations with cost savings.
The objectives of this research are to (1) identify potential alternative procedures that could be implemented to reduce or eliminate the need for the recheck of baggage for arriving international passengers at U.S. airports; (2) describe in detail the benefits and costs associated with these alternative procedures to airports, airlines, and federal agencies; and (3) compare and contrast potential alternative procedures with current practices.