Why China’s new passenger information initiative is nothing to freak out about

Oct 20, 2019

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In today’s edition of news that sounds insane, China has launched its Interactive Advanced Passenger Information system (IAPI), which tells airlines whether or not passengers are able to enter China before they board the aircraft. While this information certainly seems alarming, a little research shows that a number of countries already use the process — at least 27, including most of Europe and the Caribbean.

The program itself began in the U.S., as a result of efforts made by previous administrations in order to increase air travel safety.

What does the IAPI system entail, exactly? Well, it’s a method to gather information (shockingly) about a passenger prior to travel. Such details include:

  • Full name (last name, first name, middle name if applicable)
  • Gender
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Country of residence
  • Travel document type
  • Travel document number (expiry date and country of issue for passport)
  • [For travelers to the US] Address of the first night spent in the US (not required for US citizens/nationals, legal permanent residents, or alien residents of the US entering the US)

If, for example, you’ve ever flown to France, you’ve been asked this information prior to departure. It’s a way for governments to track movements of people in and out of their countries. China has now joined the game, with notifications allowing airlines to check on the day of departure whether or not passengers can board.

It sounds a little crazy and maybe it is, but in this day and age government tracking of airline passengers is at an all-time high. It’s no surprise, then, that China is the latest country to get in the game.

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Featured photo courtesy of William Christen / Unsplash.

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