Breaking: Customs Computer System Shutdown Causes Mass Delays at Airports Nationwide

Aug 16, 2019

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The US Customs and Border Protection was hit with a nationwide outage on Friday afternoon that caused delays and long lines for arriving international travelers at airports across the nation.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection is experiencing a temporary outage with its processing systems at various air ports of entry and is taking immediate action to address the technology disruption,” the agency said in a statement acknowledging the issue to TPG. “CBP officers continue to process international travelers using alternative procedures until systems are back online. Travelers at some ports of entry are experiencing longer than usual wait times and CBP officers are working to process travelers as quickly as possible while maintaining the highest levels of security.”

Travelers took to social media with images of long lines at CBP checkpoints. A video taken by Twitter user Tony Montgomery showed a long queue at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).

Another Twitter user, Rebekah Tromble, said that there were “easily 5,000+ passengers” waiting in line at the Washington airport.

Similar reports came in from flyers at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK).

In Toronto, one traveler took to Twitter to show long waits at the US CBP checkpoint there. Most travelers to the US from big Canadian airports clear Customs at Preclearance checkpoints there before boarding their US-bound flights.


Airports affected by the glitch also confirmed the snafu.

“We learned at about 3:30 this afternoon that Customs and Border Protection was experiencing a nationwide computer issue affecting their ability to process arriving international passengers, including at Dulles International Airport,” Micah Lillard, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said in a statement to TPG.

An image shared with us by a TPG reader showed an arrivals monitor at Washington Dulles with most flights listed as “in customs.”

A tweet from JFK Airport’s official feed said that CBP was facing a “system shutdown nationwide” and that CBP officers “are processing passengers manually.”

Despite the waits, one TPG reader with Global Entry emailed to say he “breezed through” customs while his wife, without Global Entry, waited three hours.

Featured image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

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