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Why No US-immigration For Diverted Flights?  
User currently offline2travel2know From Panama, joined Apr 2005, 3580 posts, RR: 4
Posted (6 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 4630 times:

A CO PTY-EWR had to be diverted to ORF Sunday Jul 27th where the aircarft spent 5 hours.
Supposedly ORF does have and international gate with FIS, but the passengers were told they couldn't leave the aircraft because ORF didn't have FIS.
CO does fly to ORF, CO ORF personnel just didn't care one of thier planes was on the tarmac for that long and didn't make an effort to have the passengers use ORF FIS?
What should be the procedure when international flights to the U.S. A. are diverted to aiports with FIS?
Would it be more convenient if an aircraft is to spend 4+ hours in an airport with port-of-entry to let the passengers clear immigration and customs and then be allowed to arrive the flight destination domestic?

[Edited 2008-08-04 08:20:51]


I don't work for COPA Airlines!
17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 25750 posts, RR: 50
Reply 1, posted (6 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4584 times:

For starters, I'm not sure about availability of FIS at ORF however I can surely tell you at smaller airports having FIS technically does not mean its currently staffed and able to handle flights.

A good example it ONT Ontario airport - the primary diversion airport for LAX. The FIS hours at ONT average only about 4 hours per day total -- based on scheduled airline needs(primarily AeroMexico) Show up outside those hours - you have just about a zero chance of being cleared as there simply is no staff on duty, while even showing up during those 4 open hours does not mean you will be cleared either.

Additionally one needs to consider the logistics from an airlines point of view. CO entire intent I'm sure is to get the aircraft, crew and passengers back to EWR asap, and not spend more time then needed at an intermediate stop. Additionally clearing the flight in ORF could not only potentially extend the ground time, but cause crew duty issues, or other operational headaches.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineNASBWI From Bahamas, joined Feb 2005, 1316 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (6 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4584 times:

Perhaps the Border Patrol in ORF only has services offered on a particular schedule (ie if there is only a couple of Int'l flights that are scheduled to arrive into ORF on a given day, they may only be present for said flights).

Another issue could be that it was a weather diversion (I happened to be stuck in ORF on the same day, now that I think of it - quite a mess, especially when we don't have a gate/ops in ORF!). In the case of weather diversions, an aircraft may be cleared earlier than anticipated. Given that it takes a fair amount of time to clear a full boat of 737 passengers, I'm guessing that it wouldn't be in CO's best interest to have them all cleared by Immigration, only to be released for takeoff in the middle of the process. What happens to the pax that have not yet been cleared? And what happens to the pax that have been cleared upon arrival into EWR? Sounds like more of a headache than having them wait onboard the aircraft (like most other diverted aircraft did that day).

[Edited 2008-08-04 08:18:41]


Fierce, Fabulous, and Flawless ;)
User currently offlineDLPMMM From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 3594 posts, RR: 10
Reply 3, posted (6 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4560 times:

Norfolk might be an international airport, but that does not mean that there are FIS personnel and facilities stationed there. It means that there are Customs facilities. Since there are no regularly scheduled international passenger flights that I know of scheduled through ORF, I would suggest that there might have been only a single FIS agent and Customs agent and the office might be closed weekends.

Even if there was a single agent for FIS and a single agent for Customs (and I doubt there were either on a Sunday) it would probably take more time to process all the passengers than the layover time.


User currently offline2travel2know From Panama, joined Apr 2005, 3580 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (6 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4506 times:

I see now 2 problems:
An airport with FIS, but the FIS isn't big enough to clear 150 or more passengers per hour or the FIS happens to be closed when the diversion arrives.
The diversion is less than 3 hours, so making the passengers and crew go to immigration and customs and re-check baggages would take too long and then delay even more the arrival time at the destination.
Still is hard to understand that it would be better to keep passengers 5 or more hours inside an aircraft than allow them and the crew to go to passport control and customs, if the diversion airport has: personnel form the diverted aircraft airline, a FIS which is open at the time of the diversion and that could process the diverted aircraft(s) passengers.



I don't work for COPA Airlines!
User currently offlineSTT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16885 posts, RR: 51
Reply 5, posted (6 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4484 times:

I think a lot of these airports that claim to be "International", have facilities to process folks but no dedicated staff. I believe the intention is that when notified in advance the Department of Homeland security can send a crew of Customs, border patrol etc agents to process the arriving flight. Advance has to be a charter of some sort that gives months of advanced notice.

In that area I believe most of the customs folks are working arriving military charters into Chambers field Naval Air Station, and if given enough advance notice they can work an arriving fight at Norfolk.



Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 25750 posts, RR: 50
Reply 6, posted (6 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4443 times:



Quoting 2travel2know (Reply 4):
keep passengers 5 or more hours inside an aircraft

I can assure you, CO never planned for the stop to take 5 hours.

Likely was simply planned to be a quick fuel and go situation, however the weather and the subsequent ATC mess in the NY area clearly caused further creeping delays no fault of COs.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineBok269 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 2104 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (6 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 4265 times:

Also remember that FIS may not even be at the passenger terminal. HPN can handle international arrivals, but only at one of the FBO's, and I assume it is only one or two agents. If the terminal isn't set up for it, it would make it difficult to funnel passengers to customs without them going in areas that are supposed to be sterile (I know that is the TSA term, I don't know what customs uses).


"Reality is wrong, dreams are for real." -Tupac
User currently offlineEghansen From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (6 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 4191 times:



Quoting 2travel2know (Thread starter):
CO does fly to ORF, CO ORF personnel just didn't care one of thier planes was on the tarmac for that long and didn't make an effort to have the passengers use ORF FIS?

First of all, the decision to hold passengers on airplanes is made by the INS and Customs people, not the airlines. Remember the situation at LAX a few months ago where thousands international passengers were held on airplanes for hours because of a computer outage in FIS? It had nothing to do with the airlines, but was entirely a decision of the INS people.

Airline employees who handle international arrivals have to be cleared by FIS and usually have a special FIS badge that permits them to work in the FIS area. This is a function of the Federal Government and applies to ramp workers and terminal workers alike. Obtaining one of these FIS badges can take a couple of weeks and is entirely at the discretion of the Federal Government. They fingerprint the applicants and run separate background checks.

The reasons for this are obvious. There have been cases in Miami where ramp workers unloading baggage from Columbia were removing drugs from luggage before the luggage was processed through customs. Obviously the Federal Government likes to keep tight control of people will come in direct contact with aliens and uncleared luggage.

In an outstation such as Norfolk with no international flights on CO, there would be no employees with FIS clearance and thus, no employees able to work in FIS, no employees able to unload baggage, no employees able to deplane the aircraft.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 1):
A good example it ONT Ontario airport - the primary diversion airport for LAX.

Never heard of any aircraft diverting to ONT. LAX has state-of-the-art Cat III ILS and can handle arrivals in the lowest visibility.

Quoting STT757 (Reply 5):
I think a lot of these airports that claim to be "International", have facilities to process folks but no dedicated staff. I believe the intention is that when notified in advance the Department of Homeland security can send a crew of Customs, border patrol etc agents to process the arriving flight. Advance has to be a charter of some sort that gives months of advanced notice.

There is FIS in a huge number of airports without airline service. It is for corporate and GA aircraft. For example, there is full customs at VNY which has no airline service at all. In San Diego, many international fights arrive from Mexico at Brown Field which as no commercial service. The corporate and GA traffic tends to avoid the commercial airports anyway because they are too crowded and cost more to land at.


User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 25750 posts, RR: 50
Reply 9, posted (6 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 4160 times:



Quoting Eghansen (Reply 8):
Never heard of any aircraft diverting to ONT.

I guess you have not hung out at LAX enough.

Over the years I can tell you of many primarily foggy eveninings/early mornings where places such as ONT, SAN or LAS received multiple international LAX diverts. In some cases if things were not projected to improved for many hours passengers have been bussed to LAX under CBP guard.

btw - here are some thread about LAX diversions in recent times;
NW 747 to LAS
http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...general_aviation/read.main/3714333
two LANs at SAN
http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...general_aviation/read.main/3114035
QF to LAS
http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...general_aviation/read.main/2524037
QF to ONT
http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...general_aviation/read.main/2546993

Remeber, Cat-III is also useless for airlines that are only certified down to I or II, plus when Cat-III ops are in effect they greatly reduce the LAX flow rates so even flights able to fly down to Cat-III limits often get backed up and experience holding.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineIntermodal64 From United States of America, joined May 2006, 126 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (6 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 3975 times:

Would CO have been required to unload and reload the baggage and cargo for the passengers and aircraft to clear customs and immigration at ORF? I narrowly avoided a "tech stop" in Boston during a trans-Atlantic flight. They were not going to allow passengers off there either. (However, the winds were more favorable than anticipated and we proceeded directly to our scheduled destination.)

User currently offline2travel2know From Panama, joined Apr 2005, 3580 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (6 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 3957 times:

I'm just realizing that in many U.S. airports, airlines do hire their own staff and don't rely on Ground handlers staff to take care of passenger check-in, aircraft-boarding and baggage claims.


I don't work for COPA Airlines!
User currently offlineSTT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16885 posts, RR: 51
Reply 12, posted (6 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 3929 times:

This is where an alliance/ Merger with UAL would benefit travelers to/from EWR, IAD is far enough away from EWR that diversions from EWR could go to IAD. Where passengers could be processed and booked to their final destinations.


Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
User currently offline2travel2know From Panama, joined Apr 2005, 3580 posts, RR: 4
Reply 13, posted (6 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 3883 times:

Well CLE is a CO hub, how come CO doesn't use CLE often for EWR diversions?
Is about 100mi distance difference between EWR-ORF and EWR-CLR, and of course CLE does have a FIS open afternoon to take care of CO European arrival(s).



I don't work for COPA Airlines!
User currently offlineBok269 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 2104 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (6 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 3847 times:



Quoting 2travel2know (Reply 13):

If the reason was fuel (and then they got stuck due to weather, CLE would be an issue as it is 300 NM + from ORF.


Regardless of the fact that it has FIS, the bigger issue is that it would be difficult to do a quick turn (which it seems like they were hoping for) with everyone going through customs and immigration and then having to recheck bags.



"Reality is wrong, dreams are for real." -Tupac
User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 25750 posts, RR: 50
Reply 15, posted (6 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 3818 times:



Quoting 2travel2know (Reply 13):
use CLE

Take a look at a map -- CLE comes no where close to the flight path between PTY and EWR!



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineEghansen From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (6 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 3802 times:



Quoting LAXintl (Reply 9):
I guess you have not hung out at LAX enough.

Over the years I can tell you of many primarily foggy eveninings/early mornings where places such as ONT, SAN or LAS received multiple international LAX diverts. In some cases if things were not projected to improved for many hours passengers have been bussed to LAX under CBP guard.

Interesting to know that this happens, although I wonder how often. I live in San Diego about 1000 feet from the ocean and about 1/2 mile south of the takeoff flight path for Lindbergh Field, so I see and hear the airplanes taking off. I also leave the house every weekday at 6:30 am because I teach in a high school.

Although the skies are often overcast, there is rarely any fog when I leave the house in the morning and weather disruptions at Lindbergh are extremely rare. Maybe 1-2 times per year. We are such a small insignificant place that if there are any delays at Lindbergh, all the local news stations send trucks down to cover it as if it is big news.

Once when I was flying into SAN at 10:30 pm, there was fog and our flight went to LAX. We were bussed down. But truly, we have had so little rain the last few years that fog, rain or thundershowers has become a very unusual event. Just endless dry weather with impending drought and threats of water rationing.


User currently offline2travel2know From Panama, joined Apr 2005, 3580 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (6 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 3787 times:



Quoting LAXintl (Reply 15):
Take a look at a map -- CLE comes no where close to the flight path between PTY and EWR!

Yes, most of the time, the PTY-NYC air-route goes over North Carolina, Virgina coasts. But when a CO aircraft already is approaching BWI/PHL/ACY and EWR happens to close, if the plane has enough fuel, for CO, it'd be better to divert to CLE.



I don't work for COPA Airlines!
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