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US Customs' computer system breakdown for a few hours affected airports nationwide

Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection's computer system suffered a breakdown for a few hours Friday that slowed international passenger processing at airports nationwide. Friday afternoon, Customs tweeted that "affected systems are coming back online ... " but no reason was given for the problem.

L.A.'s airport on Friday afternoon tweeted that Customs systems were "slowly getting back to normal" and that passengers were being processed. Los Angeles International Airport Spokesman Heath Montgomery said there was "not very much" congestion at the airlines' international gates as of 3:30 p.m. Friday.

"We never saw traffic stop," Montgomery said. "We saw it slow down for a time."

Customs officials tweeted at 2:05 p.m. that the agency "is experiencing a temporary outage with its processing systems at various air ports of entry & is taking immediate action to address the technology disruption." It added that "CBP officers continue to process international travelers using alternative procedures until systems are back online."

The acknowledgment followed an earlier LAX tweet highlighting the problem.

At 1:33 p.m., LAX tweeted that Customs systems "are experiencing an issue which appears to be impacting multiple airports including LAX. Officers are processing passengers manually so please check with your airline for the latest status of any flight impacts. More details as they become available."

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Thirty minutes later, LAX added that it is deploying a team of "guest experience members" to help at Customs areas. "Please check with your airline for the latest on possible flight impacts," LAX added.

Customs officers checks travelers on all international flights reaching U.S. airports, making sure that passengers match the passports they're carrying and are permitted to enter.

(c)2019 Los Angeles Times

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