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I regularly fly to the US from the UK. I'm due to fly tomorrow, but only found out when attempting online checkin that the airline hadn't asked for the required API data.

I've now submitted it (14 hours before flight) but what's likely to happen when I arrive at the checkin desk? And is there anything I can do to smooth the way?

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APIs information according to the US CBP are to be sent anytime between 72 hours before the flight to 30 minutes before closing the aircraft doors for departure.

Just remember there are many passengers who fly last minute (last minute as in last check-in time which is usually ~1 hour before the departure) and their information is also required to be sent to APIs, that's how they do it, they send the information in batches as they are available until 30 minutes before the flight not only for newly checked in passengers but also for passengers who changed their information at some point after the initial submission.

In addition to the above, I have travelled to the US at least two times with no reservation and just by showing up at the check-in counter last minute.

Source: CBP's APIS Frequently Asked Questions for airlines.

  • Thanks. Makes sense. Bizarrely airline claims to need it 80 hours in advance... – Roddy Nov 29 '15 at 20:17
  • @Roddy I am sure it is about saving money, sending them in batches must be cheaper somehow. As I understand it is sent over TTY, which costs by letter. Not really sure though... – Nean Der Thal Nov 29 '15 at 20:21
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    Airlines prefer to have it submitted in advance, as that means one less last minute thing to take care of before sending the plane off. The CBP also prefers it in advance so any red flags thrown up by a passenger can be dealt with in a timely fashion. Of course anyone will ill intent would likely not submit their details in advance. I doubt they ask in advance to "save money", as it is all done electronically. NeanDerThal's link was an FAQ during the initial testing phase some 8 years ago, so systems have evolved considerably since then. – user13044 Nov 30 '15 at 1:13
  • @tom technical wise it might got evolved a bit, policywise I do not think so. – Nean Der Thal Nov 30 '15 at 9:13
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    Update: No problem at all at checkin or immigration, so your advice was spot-on. Thanks! – Roddy Dec 1 '15 at 0:50
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API is the responsibility of the airline, not the passenger; so I would not worry about it as I am sure you are not the first last-minute passenger that they have dealt with.

Nothing should happen when you arrive at the desk. In fact, for those passengers that also forgot to enter this, the airline collects this information (if you note, its the information on the ID page of your passport) and submits it.

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