Finnair passengers on a flight from Helsinki to Chicago deplaned and exited the airport without clearing any customs. This is a serious breach of immigration and represents a lapse in security.
Finnair is Finland’s flag carrier. An A330 operating Finnair flight AY09 from Helsinki to Chicago landed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. It seems that, at some point, there was a lapse in security and passengers were able to exit the airport without clearing customs or immigration, as reported by WGN9 in Chicago.
According to a passenger onboard the flight, the passengers were able to leave without any stop at customs. The passenger stated he spoke with a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agent. The agent told the passenger there was nothing to worry about and to “just go ahead.”
According to this passenger, CBP agents arrived at the house of passengers who had departed the airport without clearing customs. In addition, a CBP spokesperson stated other agents intercepted passengers who were departing from an airport lounge. According to the CBP spokesperson, every passenger is now accounted for.
So who is responsible?
The Customs and Border Patrol handle international arrivals. Normally, once you arrive on an international flight, you pass through customs. In some cases, bags are screened in search for contraband or products that are not allowed to enter the United States.
However, on the other hand, the gate agents and airline are responsible for ensuring the flight arrives at an international gate. Seeing as how not every passenger was able to leave without clearing customs, it seems like only a small number of passengers exited the airport without clearing customs. So it seems like Finnair’s flight arrived at the proper gate for international arrivals. On the other hand, it is unclear how some passengers were able to exit without clearing customs and immigration.
At the end of the day, this is a serious immigration breach. With passengers unaccounted for, it can lead to some passengers bringing in material that would otherwise not allowed in the United States.
Furthermore, it raises the question of how ready airports are for international passengers. This is not the first time an incident like this has happened. It is unclear as of now if CBP or TSA will change any policies to ensure something like this does not again. In addition, it could be that CBP was unprepared for the arrival of an international flight which led to the area being insecure.
Have you ever had a CBP mishap? What are your thoughts on this situation? Let us know in the comments!