UPDATED: U.S. Customs Computer System Goes Down, Creating Throngs Of Travelers Waiting At Airports

Dashed Arrow Jason O'Halloran / Flickr

This story has been updated.

The computer system for the nation's customs service failed for several hours on Friday afternoon, creating huge bottlenecks at airports where agents have been processing people manually.

Travelers at airports across the country spoke about long wait times amid a confusing situation with only periodic updates. Around 4 p.m., Kennedy Airport tweeted that they were starting to use backup systems but that there were still delays in processing.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it was processing people through "alternative procedures," but it was not clear what that meant. According to the New York Times, the failure affected passengers from incoming flights, not those who were departing.

By 6:37 p.m., the agency tweeted: "The affected systems systems are coming back online and travelers are being processed. CBP will continue to monitor the incident. There is no indication the disruption was malicious in nature at this time."

But the outage, which came on one of the busiest travel days of the year, inconvenienced thousands of international travelers. Ninis Samuel of Chicago told the New York Times that he had landed at Kennedy Airport at 3:45 p.m. from Copenhagen and that he had waited in line for 45 minutes to get through Global Entry, a program that expedites the security processing of prescreened passengers.

“Nothing’s moving,” he said. “I’m standing here with the crew. People are massed here like cattle.”

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