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Pittsburgh International Airport to ease access to travelers' program

| Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 12:07 a.m.

Air travelers will be able to interview at Pittsburgh International Airport in November for a spot in a coveted program allowing them to speed their way through customs.

But people accepted into the Customs and Border Protection's Global Entry program won't be able to get through customs any faster in Pittsburgh when they return on international flights from Paris, Toronto or the Caribbean — at least not right away.

That's because the airport doesn't have the necessary equipment — an automated kiosk that can scan travelers' fingerprints and passports and take customs declarations — to offer the program, airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny said.

“We're on a waiting list,” she said.

Jenny said interviews will be held in Pittsburgh from Nov. 4-6 because of significant local interest in the program, particularly from companies that frequently send employees to foreign countries for business. Otherwise, applicants would have to travel to Philadelphia, Washington or elsewhere, she said.

To be considered for an interview, travelers must fill out an online application on the Customs and Border Protection website, pay a $100 fee and undergo a rigorous background check.

Disqualifying factors include criminal convictions, pending charges or outstanding warrants, along with violations of customs, immigrations or agriculture regulations. Anyone who is the subject of an ongoing investigation by federal, state or local authorities is ineligible.

Although the program is geared toward frequent international travelers, Customs and Border Protection doesn't factor in how much an applicant travels abroad when deciding on an application, Jenny said.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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