On all domestic charter flights, passengers should check-in at least 30 minutes before the agreed upon departure time.
Since all international flight departures and arrivals must conform to the mandates of Customs and Border Protection, to comply with those ever-changing mandates, Island Air Charters requests that all international passengers check-in 60 minutes prior to departure, but no later than 45 minutes prior to departure.
APIS, the acronym for the Customs and Border Protection Advanced Passenger Information System, is a system developed by the Department of Homeland Security after the events of 9/11 that allows the agency to track the movement of every person departing or entering the United States in common carriage vessels such as airliners, charter aircraft or cruise ships, with the intent on apprehending known and suspected terrorists, or other persons of interest to the various agencies within the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.
In order for the system to work, at least in theory anyway, all common carriage companies must gather specific information pertaining to each individual who will be traveling in their aircraft or ship, and then submit that information to Customs and Border Protection via a web portal no later than 30 minutes prior to the vessel's doors being secured closed for departure. With this information in hand, and with the 30 minute notification window, the enforcement arm of the Federal Government will apprehend known or suspected terrorists or other persons of interest prior to their departure on all outbound flights, and at border check points on all inbound flights.
As an incentive, and to keep the various airlines, charter companies and cruise ship companies from omitting required information, Customs and Border Protection fines any company that omits required data, or submits erroneous data - including typographical errors - at a rate of $5,000.00 per error or omission. Additionally, any company that closes its vessel's doors within 30 minutes of a required notification will likewise be fined $5,000.00 per early departure.
Since all times are recorded, the 30 minute window cannot be breached without the airline receiving a $5,000.00 fine, and since each and every passenger's data must be entered, scrutinized for errors and a report generated and submitted, the time it takes to complete this task is a major factor in the implementation of check-in times, especially for outbound international flights affected by this APIS system. Passengers cannot arrive 30 minutes prior to departure and expect the aircraft to depart "on time" knowing that the passenger service agent must enter and review the passenger's data and then generate and submit the required report in compliance with the 30 minute advanced notification and departure rules.
Inbound flights also require 30 minutes advanced notification, however as most international flights inbound to the United States take at least 30 minutes, the required advanced notification is generally assured. On all inbound flights, flight crew are required to inspect the travel documents of each person to be transported on their aircraft prior to boarding to assure the all travel documentation is accounted for, and that the information contained on the passenger manifest (generated by the APIS program) is accurate, complete and up to date.
Patience and understanding is appreciated for this rather daunting, yet required task.