passport booklet on top of white paper

Passengers on Norse Atlantic Flight Avoid Clearing Immigration at JFK

According to posts on Reddit and posted images of communications sent by the airline, a Norse Atlantic Airways flight from Paris to New York’s JFK managed to skip and avoid processing by U.S. Customs & Border Protection officials, likely by accident.

When the aircraft was deplaning, rather than funneling the passengers into the immigration processing area, they were instead allowed to enter the terminal, as if the flight was a domestic arrival.

Once airline and Border Protection officials realized the error, the airline sent a communication to passengers:

This is a reminder that you have to be cleared by immigration when entering the US. You did unfortunately not clear immigration upon arrival into New York JFK last night. Please report back to Terminal 7 at JFK this morning at 0900LT at Row E. It is in your own interest that you are processed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of the US Government. If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected].

First, how unprofessional is that communication? If I hadn’t known better (that I should have cleared immigration in the first place), if I received that I would think it was spam. Second, who’s to say the passengers remained in New York overnight and didn’t travel onward? That would make it extremely difficult for passengers to return. And lastly, how did they get their luggage? Usually, luggage is sent to the immigration area to be claimed, and it’s then cleared with the passenger at the Customs checkpoint.

In order for an error like this to occur multiple people and/or organizations had to be involved and multiple fail-safes had to fail. In the end, it seems rather ambitious that a simple email from the airline would force anyone to return to the airport.