These are the ‘nightmare’ queues in airports after nationwide customs system outage


We know it’s called the “silly season,” but this is ridiculous.

International travelers arriving in airports across the U.S. have been forced to stand in crazy-long queues, after a technical glitch affected U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operating systems on Monday night.

Twitter users were busy posting images of hordes of people in airport lines, while official airport handles thanked passengers for their patience.

Flyers were delayed at airport customs in Atlanta, Miami and Salt Lake City, according to CNN, while other outlets reported airports in Washington, Boston, New York City and Fort Lauderdale were also affected.

If Twitter is anything to go by, Miami passengers seemed to have been affected the most dramatically, calling the incident a “nightmare.”

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Customs officials confirmed the agency was experiencing a temporary computer outage, issuing a statement saying: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection is experiencing a temporary outage with its processing systems at various air ports of entry and taking immediate action to address the technology disruption.”

There is meant to be a clear line within this mess

A photo posted by SCSV (@simonverrill) on Jan 2, 2017 at 4:52pm PST

RELATED: Airports to avoid flying out of

1. San Francisco International Airport – San Francisco, California 

San Francisco International Airport is the worst airport to fly out of over the holidays. If you are flying out of San Francisco, there’s about an even chance your flight will not take off on time. According to our data, almost half of the flights out of San Francisco International Airport in December 2012-2015 were delayed. For that metric, San Francisco ranks 12th. And the average delay times and cancelation rates may make people flying out of San Francisco scream in frustration. The average delay time at SFO is 41 minutes and 3.2% of flights end up being canceled. It ranks the third-worst in the country for both those metrics. Plus, San Francisco is the ninth-busiest city for flying according to our data. Yikes!

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2. Newark Liberty International Airport – Newark, New Jersey 

Used by New Yorkers and New Jerseyans alike, Newark Liberty International Airport is the second-worst airport to fly from during the holidays. This is consistent with previous research showing Newark to be one of the worst airports for connections. Newark has an even higher flight delay rate than SFO. Over 51% of flights leaving Newark from December 2012-2015 were delayed. It’s second to San Francisco in our final ranking because it’s average delay time (almost 37 minutes) is shorter than SFO’s and fewer of its flights end up being canceled (2.8%).

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3. Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field – Little Rock, Arkansas 

Fun fact: the airport in Little Rock, Arkansas is named after three people. There were 4,300 domestic flights out of Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field from December 2012-2015. Just over 42% of those flights were delayed and the average delay time was almost 40 minutes. Clinton National Airport’s flight cancelation rate is the metric holiday travelers will want to be the most aware of. During the period we considered, close to 4.7% of flights were canceled. That’s the second-highest flight cancelation rate in our top 10.

Related Article: How to Get Cheap Flights 

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4. Chicago O’Hare International Airport – Chicago, Illinois 

Chicago O’Hare International Airport has been in operation since February 1944. It’s likely most American travelers have spent at least some time in it, as it’s the hub for some of the biggest airlines like United and American. Over the four-year holiday period analyzed there were close to 96,000 domestic flights out of O’Hare. Almost 3% of those flights were canceled and more than 48% were delayed.

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5. Palm Springs International Airport – Palm Springs, California 

Palm Springs International Airport barely made our cut-off with a total number of 4,181 domestic flights during the period we analyzed. Despite the famously pleasant Palm Springs weather, 36% of flights in December managed to be delayed and those delays lasted an excruiting 45.9 minutes on average, the longest in our study. But if you’re a lover of golf, getting stuck in this airport may not be so bad. It contains a PGA Tour Shop and a golf-themed eatery named The 12th Fairway Bar and Grille.

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6. Will Rogers World Airport – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 

Folks traveling through Will Rogers World Airport may be in for a bad time. According to our data Will Rogers World Airport has some of the longest delay times in the country (almost 36 minutes on average) and some of the highest cancelation rates (2.6%). At least travelers at Will Rogers World Airport can take solace in the fact that the airport is home to a branch of Salt Lick Bar-B-Que – a famed Southern barbecue restaurant.

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7. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport – Cincinnati, Ohio 

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport serves the greater Cincinnati metro area and flying through here may be a struggle. The good news is that it has the lowest delay rate in our top 10 – only 31% of domestic flights out of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport were delayed in the month of December from 2012-2015. However 3% of flights ended up being canceled. That’s the fourth-highest for that metric in our top 10.

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8. General Mitchell International Airport – Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee ranks seventh on our list of worst airports for holiday travel. Bad weather may factor into Milwaukee’s cancellation rate – 2.4% of December domestic flights out of this airport were canceled over the time period we analyzed. It also has a high flight delay rate of close to 42%.

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9. LaGuardia Airport – New York, New York

LaGuardia Airport in New York is ninth on our list and is the second Northeast airport to appear after Newark. When domestic flights out of LaGuardia are delayed, you’ll probably be sticking around for a while. The average flight delay time during the period we analyzed was over 37 minutes. LaGuardia also ranks in highest 10 for cancellation rate – 2.6% of its December domestic flights ended up being canceled. 

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10. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 

The Dallas/Fort Worth area is serviced by Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. It is the third-busiest airport in our analysis behind the Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and O’Hare. There were 90,300 domestic flights scheduled to leave the Dallas/Fort Worth airport during the time period we analyzed. Of this 90,300, almost 5% were canceled and 47% were delayed. That’s the highest cancellation rate in our top 10 worst airports. The good news is that it also had the lowest average delay time of the 10 airports (just over 32 minutes).

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Customs officers reportedly continued to process international travellers manually during the outage.

In Atlanta, a spokesman from the Department of Homeland Security’s CBP agency, Rob Brisley, told CNN: “We can confirm that there was an outage with the processing computer that the customs officials use. It lasted about an hour at the Atlanta airport, causing delays with international passengers.”

While Brisley said the cause of the outage was “still being evaluated,” CBP have yet to give an official statement on the incident and what caused it.

Mashable has reached out the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for further comment.

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