Whoops, AA & JFK Say They Forgot to Have Passengers Clear Customs

The NY Daily News is reporting that when American Airlines Flight 1671 arrived at JFK from Cancun, Mexico, at 8:50 PM this past Friday, passengers simply walked out of the airport without having their passports or luggage checked by Customs and Border Protection. Apparently, the plane was incorrectly directed to a domestic gate. Passengers are now being forced to return to the airport in order to clear customs…no matter how far they’ve traveled since. AA is personally reaching out to the passengers:

The passenger complained Saturday that agents have “been harassing me with phone calls — they’re coming from high-up people at American Airlines, TSA and customs . . . . They’re very aggressive.” Another passenger also said that agents had been reaching out constantly. “They’re telling me that I am here illegally, that I’m trespassing!” the passenger said. “They said, ‘If you don’t come in Monday, we’re sending FBI agents to your house.’ ”

Here’s the official statement from American:

“Some passengers on Flight 1671 did not complete immigration and customs process upon arrival when they were inadvertently directed to the domestic terminal. American Airlines is working with Customs and Border Protection to ensure they complete the process and to prevent this from happening in the future.”

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Comments

  1. Not the passenger’s issue. If I were one of the PAX, I would tell CBP to come to where my current location is. Why inconvenience myself for someone else’s mistake.

    • Though it’s a huge screw up by AA, I have to disagree with you. If you’ve ever flown internationally, you realize you have to clear immigration and customs when you arrive. I think there is some responsibility on the part of the passengers to at least inquire why they were not processed by CBP before leaving the airport.

  2. I wonder if any of the passengers on the flight realized and ended up going through CBP.

    I’m a frequent traveler but we do more domestic than international. We are also usually with our kids so it probably wouldn’t have initially occurred to me that we missed a step.

    I would hope that AA would be willing to work with passengers who needed to travel back to JFK… I would have been upset if we had continued on and then had to take the whole family back to JFK (especially if we had to pay the fare…)

  3. If I’m coming back to the US from an international destination (without pre-clearance), and I’m dumped out into the domestic terminal, I’m immediately going to CBP. You can’t screw around with that stuff these days.

    Passengers should have known better and shouldn’t have left the airport. AA did screw up big time with this one, that’s for sure.

  4. This indicates that there is too much left under the control of airline employees and airport employees. I can imagine a scenario where this or similarly, someone escorts a person through alternate exit routes bypassing immigration.
    I remember arriving at FRA at a gate which could be configured for domestic of non european arrivals. There was a slight delay as glass walls were moved. There was a definite presence of authorities to make sure it was done 100%.

  5. This is reminiscent of the AA foul-up sending a non-ETOPS aircraft LAX-HNL. These are “must never” events for an airline.

    One wonders if the merger integration isn’t going as well as it otherwise seems.

  6. That happened to my boyfriend and I when we arrived in Brazil for the World Cup last year. No security or stamps in our passports. We didn’t run into any trouble flying within the country, and when we went on to Uruguay the agent gave our passports an extra search, but then stamped us on our way. Hmmm.

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