Miami-Dade County

After Customs chaos, overnight stay, groggy MIA passengers back on move

Travelers rage at long lines after Customs computer outage at MIA

A multi-state U.S. Customs computer outage forced the Customs checkpoint at Miami International Airport to process travelers manually. That slowed the usual wait time, from a half hour to an hour during normal times, to several hours, causing hund
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A multi-state U.S. Customs computer outage forced the Customs checkpoint at Miami International Airport to process travelers manually. That slowed the usual wait time, from a half hour to an hour during normal times, to several hours, causing hund

After a night during which hundreds of travelers at Miami International Airport missed their connecting flights because of a multistate U.S. Customs computer outage, lines were moving more smoothly at MIA this morning — and at other airports around the country.

“We are back to normal now,” said Migdalia Arteaga, Customs and Border Protection public affairs officer at Miami International.

But it was chaos hours earlier, as the computer problem forced the Customs checkpoint at MIA to process travelers manually. That slowed the usual wait time, from a half hour to an hour during normal times, to several hours, causing hundreds of travelers to miss their connecting flights. Most were traveling on American Airlines, said Greg Chin, spokesman for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department.

Not only was it a bad night for the outage — with travelers on the move after an extended holiday weekend — but Miami International was a bad place to experience the glitch, since it has a greater volume of international travelers than any other airport in the United States except for New York’s John F. Kennedy.

One traveler, Carlos Rico, tweeted a photo of the long lines and the message : “AmericanAir feeling a warm welcome here in Miami. Standstill at the passport control, and we've barely moved for half an hour. Please help!

To accommodate displaced travelers, the airport opened an auditorium in concourse D for those American passengers needing a place to sleep overnight.

In a statement, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said: “During the technology disruption, CBP had access to national security-related databases and all travelers were screened according to security standards. At this time, there is no indication the service disruption was malicious in nature.”

“In the event of a system outage, CBP officers implement alternative procedures to facilitate passengers’ arrival into the United States. The alternative procedures involve accessing records through backup systems. Officers are able to process travelers upon arrival at ports of entry, although at a slower rate.”

“CBP closely monitors its systems and CBP information technology personnel are conducting diagnostics to address the root cause of the problem that led to the outage.”

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