Passenger rages at JFK over airport queues after 20-month wait

Hundreds waited for two hours to pass US customs although others conceded it was expected

Gino Spocchia
Tuesday 09 November 2021 19:14
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First flight taking British tourists to New York after US reopening

A British traveller who was among thousands to touch-down in the Big Apple after almost 20 months of Covid restrictions has raged against airport authorities after waiting hours at JFK.

The US on Monday lifted a ban on travellers from 33 countries including the UK, with tens of thousands of international passengers arriving into airports in New York and across the country.

At JFK, many were allegedly forced to wait for hours upon arriving at border control – half a dozen of whom complained about the wait on Twitter.

One passenger who flew into JFK from Manchester wrote: “20 months closed [is] lots of time to get things right and JFK Airport queues are a disgrace.”

The Briton, whose Twitter username is @Evo_1979, was among hundreds who arrived into JFK from Manchester on three different flights on Monday – which he went on to describe as “ridiculous”.

The Twitter user added that Britons were “all sweating”, and it was not clear what flight from Manchester he had been on.

Footage shared to Twitter showing British travellers back-to-back at US Customs and Border Patrol appeared to confirm his account and that of dozens.

Another British traveller, Paul Richards, also waited for hours after arriving into JFK from London Heathrow – an airport from where thousands took-off for the Big Apple on Monday.

As many as 8,000 passengers flew with British Airways and 4,500 with Virgin Atlantic on 26 trans-Atlantic flights, figures suggested.

Mr Richarrds told USA Today that although he was waiting for two hours at JFK, there was “no point in getting irate, [because] the queue will still be there”.

Marc Evans, who flew from Manchester with his wife and two children, commented that “It was apparently a PR stunt to show the USA was back open but seems they weren’t concerned about the queues at customs.”

Two planes that were the first to fly from London to New York on Monday had been in a so-called “race” to be the first to break the 20-month ban on foreigners.

The wait at US border control was mostly anticipated, with the CEO of Delta Air Lines warning last week: “It’s going to be a bit sloppy at first, I can assure you, There will be lines, unfortunately.”  

Queues were also reported at the country’s northern and southern land borders on Monday, with vehicles stretching for several kilometres on the Mexican side.

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