News and notes from Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport

After Customs outage, travel group pushes for improvements to entry process for travelers

A widespread outage of U.S. Customs and Border Protection systems at Hartsfield-Jackson and other airports around the country Monday night prompted a travel group to call for improvements to processing of travelers entering the country.

The outage lasted about an hour at Hartsfield-Jackson but led to long lines and waits for many travelers at the world's busiest airport Monday evening, as thousands of travelers returned from holiday trips.


Customs and Border Protection officers used alternative procedures during the outage to process travelers. The agency said officers worked to process travelers "as quickly as possible while maintaining the highest levels of security."

On Tuesday morning, the U.S. Travel Association, an industry group based in Washington, D.C., issued a statement on the outage that caused hours-long delays, calling it "disturbing."

"Technology at these facilities is too outdated to cope with existing travel volume, let alone the increased traffic we hope and expect to see at our gateway airports in years to come," said U.S. Travel Association president Roger Dow in a written statement.  "The headaches this inflicts upon American travelers is bad enough, but policymakers should be especially mindful of the effect on international visitors."

According to Dow, the U.S. Customs process "is already notorious for dissuading long-haul visitors from dealing with the hassle of coming here," which he said can mean fewer travelers.

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Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.