Friday afternoon’s United Airlines flight from Dubrovnik to Newark was delayed about an hour and a half on departure. They made up some time in the air, but it took a lot longer for passengers to get out of the airport and home than they’d expected – and some probably missed connecting flights – because of a mistake made by an employee as the flight arrived back in the U.S.
Passengers were let off the aircraft and staff opened a door into the terminal instead of directing passengers to immigration and customs.
The mistake was caught quickly, and according to business class passenger on the flight Jeff Wimmer, the airline worked to “round up all of the people that headed off into the terminal.” Passengers were then held “until they figure out what to do next.”
With a large group of passengers cordoned off, staff began going through the manifest one passenger at a time, calling out names, asking people to identify themselves as present. Jeff Wimmer shared video:
According to a United Airlines spokesperson, “Five passengers were mistakenly deplaned into the terminal. They were quickly rerouted and underwent the proper CBP processing.”
United is hardly the only airline to have made this mistake. American Airlines let a plane full of passengers from Mexico skip immigration at New York JFK more than once in recent years.
In those cases passengers – who had left the airport and in several cases the state – were contacted and told they needed to return to the airport because everyone must clear customs and immigration at their arrival port.