Well, it’s happened again! Just two months after the last incident, American Airlines and US Customs and Border Protection have allowed passengers from an international flight to simply walk out of the airport without having their passports or luggage checked. Like the last time, 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. According to the New York Daily News, AA is personally reaching out to the passengers:
“I apologize for any inconvenience this may be for you; however it is a Customs requirement that every passenger entering the United States must clear Customs,” the airline wrote in an email sent to passengers.
The incident occurred last Monday when AA flight 1223 from Cancun parked at a JFK gate that was set up for domestic arrivals (the JFK T8 gates are dual use and can handle both domestic and international arrivals). Interestingly enough, the last incident also involved a Cancun flight (AA 1671), perhaps AA / JFK officials think Cancun is part of the US.
One passenger told the NY Daily News that he informed CBP and TSA officials, but they told him it was fine and he should leave the airport:
I told them what happened and asked them what should I do,” the passenger said. “They said to me ‘That’s fine, you’re OK. Go ahead.’ ”
AA’s official statement:
“We take the safety and security of our customers, employees and operation very seriously,” the company said. “Some passengers on flight 1223 did not complete immigration and customs process upon arrival when they were inadvertently directed to the domestic terminal.”