It was one of those incidents that reminds everyone just how dependent we’ve become on technology, even when it comes to crossing the border.
A malfunction in Canada’s automated border security kiosks Sunday led to long lineups at airports across the country as international travellers waited as long as 90 minutes or more to get into the country.
Airports in Vancouver and Toronto – two of the country’s primary international gateways – warned of long waits.
The kiosks were back online by mid-afternoon Pacific Time, but not before thousands of people were left waiting in long lines or onboard aircraft, even well after the computers were once again working.
“Due to a national outage of [Canada Border Services Agency]’s Primary Inspection Kiosk & NEXUS, arriving guests have long waits to clear Customs at YVR,” read a Twitter post from Vancouver International Airport. “Our team is working to help arriving guests fill out manual forms and keep people hydrated. We apologize, and we appreciate everybody’s patience.”
“We’ve been in this queue for 90 minutes, and still upstairs,” complained Charlie Cheung on Twitter. “Family are waiting to pick us up, and racking up heafty [sic] car park charges.”
What queue times can be expected, we’ve been in this queue for 90 mins, and still upstairs. Family are waiting to pick us up, and racking up heafty car park charges.— Charlie Cheung (@CharlieCheung17) July 28, 2019
The CBSA has been turning increasingly to automated kiosks as the first point of contact for air passengers arriving in the country. Since 2017, they have been rolled out at Canada’s major airports, allowing people to make an on-screen, electronic declaration before meeting a border guard.
They are deployed in most international airports, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax.
“With a number of Intl aircraft arriving this pm,” tweeted Calgary International Airport, “there will be delays but are doing our best to help guests.”
In its description of the kiosks on its website, the CBSA tells passengers that if the kiosks are not working, “The Customer Service Representatives at the airport will direct you to make your declaration to a border services officer.”
“Agents are working as fast as they can,” said Ottawa International Airport, “thank you for your patience.”