Air travel got even more hellish for international passengers trying to enter the U.S. when computer systems used by United States Customs and Border Protection went down across the country on Monday evening. CBP officials said the outage, which lasted from about 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., was not “malicious,” but they have yet to explain what happened in detail.
CBP still had access to national-security-related databases and “continued to process international travelers using alternative procedures at airports experiencing the disruption,” according to a statement from the agency. “Travelers at some ports of entry experienced longer than usual wait times as CBP officers processed travelers as quickly as possible while maintaining the highest levels of security.”
It wasn’t fast enough for the thousands of people who were trapped in cramped airport hallways, waiting to be processed. Naturally, they shared their plight on social media:
At one point in Miami International Airport, passengers from more than 30 international flights were waiting to be processed. Travelers had to deal with high heat and vomit on the floor. Seven passengers were treated for minor medical emergencies at the airport.
“People started to pass out, people were screaming, shoving each other with luggage,” Michelle Sencibaugh, one of the trapped travelers, told USA Today. “People were scared, absolutely.”
There were also lengthy delays in Chicago, Boston, New York, Baltimore, and Atlanta. According to FlightAware, there were 4,491 delays nationwide yesterday, including 694 in Atlanta and 395 at LAX.
Some passengers reported that their flights were held on the tarmac for more than an hour, which was probably preferable to being packed into the airport.