These four letters inspire, if not dread, stress among those who are responsible for its transmission.
APIS stands for “Advance Passenger Information System”, for which US carriers must transmit to US Customs information about passengers and crew on international flights. The penalty is $5,000 per passenger with untransmitted or inaccurate information. (If you’re wondering, the required data includes your name, date of birth, gender, passport number and expiration date, country of residence, country of citizenship, country where passport was issued. Additionally, if you’re a foreigner visiting the US, they must also know the address where you’re staying.)
The old requirement was that an APIS manifest needed to be transmitted no later than 15 minutes after flight departure. That’s been changed to 30 minutes before departure. If there are any last-minute changes (and you never know with mechanical issues, weather, crew legality, etc.) this means that the airlines must delay their flights to comply with APIS. Which airports, airlines, and passengers alike can ill-afford.
On top of this, the “sufficiency rate” for APIS transmissions has also been raised from 97% to 100%, a sufficient record being defined as transmitted and without system errors (ie, the information must be accurate). This means there is now zero room for error whatsoever. Looks like the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has finally realized the beings working at airports are cyborgs, not humans.
(As a side note, the sufficiency rates are calculated per flight. Which means for the company I work for, which flies 19- and 30-seaters, the sufficiency rate has essentially been 100% the whole time, so we’re already used to it.)
My co-worker believes that these changes were implemented simply to make it easier for the TSA to levy fines on airlines. I can’t really argue it. These new requirements are literally impossible to comply with and do little or nothing to improve security.