Airline and security officials at Kennedy Airport let 150 passengers arriving from an international flight leave the airport without going through customs, the Daily News has learned.
American Airlines Flight 1671 arrived at JFK from Cancun, Mexico, at 8:50 p.m. Friday.
When the plane landed, passengers walked out of the airport without having their passports or bags checked by Customs and Border Protection, sources told The News.
A source familiar with the matter said passengers disembarking the plane “just followed” a gate agent. The security snafu came just two days after ISIS released a video threatening New York City with a terrorist attack.
“Some passengers on Flight 1671 did not complete immigration and customs process upon arrival when they were inadvertently directed to the domestic terminal,” American Airlines said in a statement.
American Airlines contacted the passengers and directed them to return to JFK for customs processing. An official told The News on Sunday that 144 passengers had returned to the airport and gone through customs. The six that remain are all U.S. citizens, the official said.
American Airlines is working with Customs and Border Protection to ensure they “complete the process and to prevent this from happening in the future,” the company also said in the statement.
“None of us went through immigration or customs,” a passenger told The News, adding, “There were no signs for customs or anything. The only signs we saw were baggage claim and exit.”
The passenger complained Saturday that agents have “been harassing me with phone calls — they’re coming from high-up people at American Airlines, (Transportation Security Administration) and customs . . . . They’re very aggressive.” Another passenger also said that agents had been reaching out constantly.
“They’re telling me that I am here illegally, that I’m trespassing!” the passenger said. “They said, ‘If you don’t come in Monday, we’re sending FBI agents to your house.’ ”
Both passengers said they had to come from Connecticut to JFK to clear things up.
A spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security, said the agency is “aware of and looking into the incident and is working with our counterparts to resolve it.”
The TSA, which screens passengers before they fly, declined comment, while the Port Authority said that the clearing of arriving international travelers is a federal responsibility. The airlines, it said, direct travelers to security areas. With Graham Rayman