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New airport kiosks offer sweet deal for international travelers

Too much money for those quick NEXUS lanes over the region’s international bridges?

Ditto for that card to breeze through airport security?

Now travel officials are offering a sweet deal for NEXUS cards at two new “Trusted Traveler” kiosks unveiled Tuesday at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, making easy passage through security at airports and bridges affordable for more travelers.

By spending $50 for a NEXUS pass and quick lanes to and from Canada, officials say, travelers can also gain TSA PreCheck for expedited security passage at the airport –usually $85 – and the Global Entry program for easy customs clearance upon return to the United States – usually $100.

“What a great deal,” said William R. Vanecek, director of aviation for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, adding the program also works for international air travelers returning to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport from overseas.

“Here you get all three for just $50,” he said. “It’s really a no-brainer.”

Kenneth A. Manning, Peace Bridge Authority vice chairman, explained that bridge officials have always encouraged NEXUS cards for quick clearance through customs, with about 50,000 local residents taking advantage. But they wish more travelers would apply to ease the crossing experience and relieve congestion.

“Now we’re making it easier,” he said.

Kenneth Manning of the Peace Bridge Authority and William Vanecek of the NFTA unveil airport kiosks expediting application for NEXUS, TSA PreCheck and Global Entry programs. (Robert J. McCarthy/Buffalo News)

Within a few days, Buffalo air travelers will encounter the kiosks upon clearing security, adjacent to the Transit Police booth. They can then electronically apply for the NEXUS card that expedites security clearance for low-risk, preapproved travelers. Officials say the kiosks offer step-by-step application information to create an account with the Department of Homeland Security’s online Trusted Traveler Programs.

Vanecek and Manning emphasized during an airport news conference on Tuesday that passengers waiting for flights can take advantage of the new service, which also will require background checks and a personal interview that can be scheduled through the new portals. The interviews take place at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, Ont., or the Whirlpool Bridge in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

“Instead of sitting and waiting to board flights at the Buffalo airport,” Manning said, “we hope people will take advantage of their time and utilize these kiosks to apply for NEXUS.”

NEXUS usage at the region’s four international bridges accounts for almost 30 percent of auto movements at the Peace Bridge. The card also allows passage over the “NEXUS only” Whirlpool Bridge at Niagara Falls, used by nearly 520,000 travelers in 2017.

NEXUS is a binational program jointly administered by the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. More information is available at nexusniagara.com.

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