Customs Snafu Strands Many for Hours

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Aug 13th, 2007, 07:37 AM
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Customs Snafu Strands Many for Hours

CNN this weekend carried a report about Customs computers crashing and thus at airports no one could be processed thru Customs often up to several hours.

Some were left on planes for several hours, after long flights.

I just caught the end of the story - anyone confirm this with more details. I guess even Americans had to wait up to several hours at airport entry points?
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Aug 13th, 2007, 07:46 AM
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It happened at LAX on Saturday. The customs system was down for about 10 hours. Something like 20,000 passengers from incoming international flights were stuck on planes or in the terminals until they could be processed. I saw a quote from one person who'd flown in from Hong Kong (13 hours) and was still sitting on the plane five hours later.

I can't find the article right now, but I saw it on the CNN and Chicago Tribune sites yesterday.
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Aug 13th, 2007, 07:51 AM
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thanks so it was only in LAX? i thought maybe it was countrywide.
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Aug 13th, 2007, 07:52 AM
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Just LAX. Here's the article:

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/08/12/LAX....ap/index.html
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Aug 13th, 2007, 10:22 AM
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thanks ms go

also just heard an NPR update - some folks, including those who were old and even became sick and those with small kids had to sit on planes for up to seven hours, this after at times ending hours-long flights.

Apparently Customs officials felt that there could be someone waiting to enter who was a terrorist, etc. so were aloof to process anyone until the computers were back - fearing that some nefarious group had purposely disabled the computers.

My Q is why are folks, after long long flights forced to stay on airliners parked at or near the gate for hours - it was said bottled water was running out, toilets filling up, etc.

can't airports have holding places for those unfortunately to be innocently kept like prisoners on planes?
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Aug 13th, 2007, 11:45 AM
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You'd think they could have done something if it were going to last so long, but they don't actually have space to hold hundreds of people at customs in airports in the terminal. Until you are processed, the area is fairly small that is available. If it really were 20K passengers, there would certainly be nowhere to have them in the airport.
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Aug 13th, 2007, 12:00 PM
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On the other hand, all the outbound flights waiting for those aircraft would have been waiting too, and for every passenger stuck on the plane, there was another waiting in the departure gate areas, etc.

As in last February's weather related issue, passengers cannot be expected to occupy an immobile plane for hours on end. It's tantamount to hijacking, except it's by the airline or in this case, the State Dept. Then it was Jet Blue, paying dearly in bad publicity. The State Dept is immune, to the degree that they don't have a bottom line to protect.

After the Feb incident NYState lawmakers began working on their "passenger bill of rights" - watch for CA to do the same now, though obviously a national standard is called for, if the powers that be don't have the sense to treat people like human beings rather than baggage.

My recent related tale involved a nearly full commuter flight from Philly to NYC - 30 minutes or so in the air - for which we sat on the cramped plane for 3 hours awaiting takeoff. We were allowed to "stand up", though very few could actually do that on the little plane! Makes a person feel trapped and, after time, abused.
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Aug 13th, 2007, 12:18 PM
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I don't understand this at all.

The need for 100% perfect security on outbound planes is self-evident. So if systems collapse, or there's a believable threat of something serious, anyone with half a brain accepts, however grumpily, that we all need to be strip-searched, or whatever, before getting on a plane. But on an INBOUND plane?

As I understand it, about two inches south of LAX is a land border that's regularly penetrated by hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants (and only Allah knows how many of them are terrorists) a year.

Even if 10% of the people stranded on the tarmac last Saturday were Australians who'd overstayed a visa by two days, or English pop singers with Islamic names, or whatever else sends Homeland Security into conniptions - that's still just one average day's wetbacking.

So what's the point in imposing intense misery on 20,000 taxpayers? The worst that can happen is a few criminals smuggle themselves in. And you haven't got any of your own?
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Aug 13th, 2007, 12:44 PM
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And one would guess that staff could have confidently screened 50-90% of the passengers without computer aid, but with brains fully engaged.

On the other hand, someone has finally done something to make Heathrow look good!
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Aug 13th, 2007, 01:42 PM
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but it could have been an Al-Queda plot to shut down the computers so they could slip some sleepers in!

Oh, i guess flanner is right, they would simply have slipped across the Mexican border.

Bureaucracy gone wild!

they could have at least let the elderly and those with toddlers off the plane - maybe in the inflatable lifeboats Titanic style.
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Aug 13th, 2007, 01:52 PM
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>..they could have at least let the elderly and those with toddlers off the plane ...<

Do you think that the DHS is so naive as not to recognize that AlQaida would, after shutting down the computers, disguise its agents as elderly people with toddlers?

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Aug 13th, 2007, 03:00 PM
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Hmm. As well as the "3 recent divorcees back from a fling" disguise, the "Swedish businessman" disguise the "emeritus professor" from Georgia disguise.

I suppose someone saw "Live Free - Die Hard" last week and was ready for that national computer hacker-shutdown.
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