Oops! 150 people on flight from Mexico to NYC allowed to skip customs

Oops! 150 people on flight from Mexico to NYC allowed to skip customs
Credit: Mary Altaffer/AP

Don’t look now, but 150 passengers arriving at New York’s JFK Airport from Mexico Friday evening were permitted to stroll through the airport and out without stopping at Customs and Border Protection.

New York’s Daily News, which broke the story, says that a source familiar with the glitch said passengers disembarking the plane “just followed” a gate agent. To make matters worse, the security breech came just two days after ISIS released a video threatening New York City with a terrorist attack.

American Airlines, the carrier on whose Flight 1671 these people arrived, issued a statement reading:

Some passengers on Flight 1671 did not complete immigration and customs process upon arrival when they were inadvertently directed to the domestic terminal.

The airlines proceeded to contact the passengers and direct them to return to JFK for customs processing. The good news is that 144 passengers complied. The bad news is that six didn’t, though all are said to be U.S. citizens, which is supposed to make everyone feel comfortable.

One passenger who came back told the Daily News:

[Agents have] been harassing me with phone calls — they’re coming from high-up people at American Airlines, [Transportation Security Administration] and customs…. They’re very aggressive.

They’re telling me that I am here illegally, that I’m trespassing! They said, ‘If you don’t come in Monday, we’re sending FBI agents to your house.’

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer.


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