For at least the second time in three months, international travelers arriving from Mexico at Kennedy Airport were able to exit the airport without having their passports or bags inspected, according to The New York Daily News.
Sources tell The Daily News that passengers on on American Airlines Flight 1223 from Cancun, Mexico last Monday were able to skip Customs. The incident is strikingly similar to a November snafu in which passengers — again arriving on an American Airlines fight from Cancun, Mexico — were able to skip customs.
According to The Daily News, American Airlines recognized the mishap hours after the passengers landed, dispatching an email requesting that passengers return to go through customs.
“I apologize for any inconvenience this may be for you; however it is a Customs requirement that every passenger entering the United States must clear Customs,” the email read.
The Daily News spoke to a passenger who was able to leave without the typical security screenings.
“It’s absolutely absurd,” the business adviser, who had been in Cancun to attend several Phish concerts, told the paper. “To think that anyone could be walking off of that plane and just get right into the city. It could be terrorists, El Chapo’s henchmen, anyone.”
The jam band fan said he even approached a Transportation Security Administration agent near the exit, but was told he was free to go.
“I told them what happened and asked them what should I do,” the passenger said. “They said to me ‘That’s fine, you’re OK. Go ahead.’ ”
Several other concertgoers who were on the flight were already outside at the curbside cab line when he exited the airport.
Neither the TSA, which screens passengers before they fly, nor the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security, responded to a request for comment.
In a statement American Airlines acknowledged the misstep.
“We take the safety and security of our customers, employees and operation very seriously,” the airline said in a statement to the paper. “Some passengers on flight 1223 did not complete immigration and customs process upon arrival when they were inadvertently directed to the domestic terminal.”