San Francisco

Customs Outage Delays Airport Passengers in San Francisco, San Jose

A nationwide outage in U.S. Customs and Border Protection systems Monday impacted passengers traveling through San Francisco and Mineta San Jose international airports.

The outage lasted about four hours and left throngs of passengers dealing with delays. Officials said the "technology disruption" began about 2 p.m. Pacific time and ended about 6 p.m. PT. But the residual effects had many passengers waiting for a long time.

Customs officials at SFO said processing travelers was periodically slow, and there were periods when it was very slow.

"It looks like the last flight out of Saigon," passenger Cindy Weil said. "It took about an hour. Longer. ... It was insane. I’ve never seen anything like it here."

It was not known how many SFO flights or passengers were affected by the outage.

At Mineta San Jose, three flights were affected, according to spokeswoman Vicky Day. She said customs officials there were processing by hand, so it was taking much longer. Officials estimated the delay was up to five hours for some passengers.

"There were some people from London who’d been here since 2:30 this afternoon," Day said.

Passengers had no choice but to wait as customs officials worked feverishly on processing by hand.

"They said, 'Don’t worry, we’ll go as fast as we can.' What else could you do?" one SJC passenger said. "Nothing, really."

Two of the flights were Alaska Airlines from Cabo and Guadalajara. A third flight affected was a British Airways from London, she said.

The last passenger from customs at Mineta San Jose walked out about 7:30 p.m.

Oakland International Airport was not affected, a spokesperson there said.

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