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Customs Outage Slows Border Entry at Airports Across US

Jan. 03, 2017
3 min read
Customs Outage Slows Border Entry at Airports Across US
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Update 1/3/17 8:30am: The US Customs and Border Protection agency said that as of approximately 9:00pm ET Monday night, processing systems at all airports were back online. The agency said there is no indication that the disruption was malicious in nature.

Update: TPG's friend John was traveling through Miami this evening and personally experienced the chaos there. Here is what he told us about the situation:

[We were] lined up several hundred yards behind several hundred (or more) people still needing to make two or three more turns to even get to customs.
People were packed liked sardines and getting tense. It was hot. There was no information. There was no assistance. People started having asthma and panic attacks and hot flashes. People were getting testy.
Our customs agent said computers were down system wide for over 4 hours and it was a "zoo." Everything was manual which they really weren't prepared for. As people got hot and angry, it got worse.

John also sent the following photos and video...


It's unfathomable that the CBP could be so completely unprepared to handle a situation like this. All computer systems can fail or have issues from time to time and CBP management should have a contingency plan in place for when it happens. Instead, there appears to have been a complete lack of communication with the public that caused serious health risks to travelers. The leaders of the CBP are going to have a great deal to answer for in the coming days.

A US Customs and Border Protection computer outage was causing major travel headaches at airports across the country Monday night.

Reports indicated the problem, which began in the early evening, appeared to affect airports nationwide. All entry systems were down, including Global Entry and Mobile Passport, resulting in long lines of travelers trying to return home after the New Year's holiday.

The agency released a statement confirming the issue. "US Customs and Border Protection is experiencing a temporary outage with its processing systems at various airports of entry and taking immediate action to address the technology disruption."

Twitter lit up with photos and videos of travelers caught in delays.

Even after systems started to come back online, the resulting backlog meant hours of delays for many international travelers. Users on Twitter reported over 1,000 people waiting in line for three or more hours at Miami International, and tempers flaring as people were packed into the waiting areas.

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"Travelers at some ports of entry are experiencing longer than usual wait times," the CBP said in its statement, "and CBP officers are working to process travelers as quickly as possible while maintaining the highest levels of security."