Customs Computer Failure Snarls Passengers at U.S. Airports

Nytimes

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16 August 2019 21:25

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A nationwide customs service computer failure on Friday left throngs of passengers bottlenecked at airports, waiting to be processed, Kennedy International Airport said.

The airport said on Twitter that the system was down across the country and that “agents are processing people manually,” though it was not clear what that process involved.

Ninis Samuel of Chicago said in a phone interview that he had landed at Kennedy Airport at 3:45 p.m. from Copenhagen and that he was in line for Global Entry, a program that expedites the security processing of prescreened passengers. What ordinarily was a five-minute wait had lasted 45 minutes, he said.

“Nothing’s moving,” he said. “I’m standing here with the crew. People are massed here like cattle.”

Of the crowd, he said, “To my horizon line, you wouldn’t believe it,” adding, “I’m sure there are over 1,000 people here right now waiting in line.”

He said in a text message that the airport had made no announcement about the delays: “Nope. Nothing. No info.”

Around 5 p.m., he said he had gotten through Customs because officials were manually processing passengers and he was a participant in Global Entry.

He added that other passengers were most likely looking at a wait of hours.

Passengers from Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle complained on Twitter about the backlog.

Neither a spokesman for United States Customs and Border Protection nor the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Kennedy Airport, could be immediately reached.

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