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Passengers Trapped On AM SEA Flight For 16 Hours  
User currently offlineDrunkmuppet From Congo (Kinshasa), joined Nov 2007, 20 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 12593 times:

Not too sure if this was posted already. Don't the customs agents have a bad rap in Portland from the Delta Asia gateway days?
What I find amazing is they flew the plane back to MEX before finally going onto Seattle. I mean it would seem better to spend a few hours in line with customs than 16 hours on the plane.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/01/22/us.mexico.flight/index.html

30 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineHikesWithEyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 816 posts, RR: 7
Reply 1, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 12095 times:

Portland was known as "deportland" during the DL Asia days
due to the Customs/INS agents.



First, benzene in my Perrier, and now this!
User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21532 posts, RR: 59
Reply 2, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 12052 times:

They should have cleared all USA citizens and then sent the plane back to Mexico if they had to. There is generally a problem with entering at the wrong port of entry on international flights, but from what I understand, it's more important with regard to foreign nationals than with nationals.


Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineFlyboy7974 From United States of America, joined Jan 2003, 1540 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 12054 times:

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...eneral_aviation/read.main/4289730/

well, that's a little bit weird, because at the time I was watching another flight, was watching this one as well, and then wondered later that night when I saw it never made it to PDX and wondered then what had happened to it




http://flightaware.com/live/flight/A...0/history/20090120/2150Z/MMMX/KSEA


User currently offlinePanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 11902 times:

Okay, let me get this straight: an SEA bound plane is diverted from landing at Seattle to Porland, OR, an airport with complete FIS facilities for processing international flights, yes?

  • What was the reason that the U.S. Agents could not process the plane?

  • Even if there was only one or two agents, why would it then still take more than four hours just to say "we can't do the job"?

  • Were any other international flights coming into SEA diverted to PDX?

  • Are there government rules about how many passengers agents are allowed to process in a 24 hour time period before they have say "times up!!"?

  • Why did the plane then not fly to a location that DID have agents willing and/or able to process these passengers?

  • If the plane was forced to return to Mexico, why Mexico City? Why not TIJ, which is much closer?

  • How long was the pilot on duty for? Did he go over his maximum work hours?

  • Does ANYBODY have ANY contingency plans for situations like this anymore? Or are passengers an inconvenience that other airports want to just go away?

    There has to be more to this story - this story is just too strange to believe without more details.



  • Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
    User currently offlineFlyboy7974 From United States of America, joined Jan 2003, 1540 posts, RR: 2
    Reply 5, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 11823 times:

    No, I think the only other interntional flight that day that was diverted was the Air France A330, AF40 I think, and that went into YVR.

    User currently offlineSeb146 From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 11658 posts, RR: 15
    Reply 6, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 11708 times:



    Quoting PanAm747 (Reply 4):
    There has to be more to this story - this story is just too strange to believe without more details.

    I agree. We have international flights from Germany, Japan, Mexico, and Canada. Agents should have been able to process a 737 in no time. I think there was much more going on than was said in the story. Worst case: They could have flown to SFO, LAS, or LAX.



    Life in the wall is a drag.
    User currently offlineAsqx From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 615 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 7, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 11637 times:

    Perhaps the problem lies not in the availability of customs agents, but instead the fact that Aeromexico does not fly to PDX and therefore has no agents, facilities, etc with which to help the passengers and deal with any issues that may arise? If Aeromexico doesn't have anyone available to them who are cleared to work in customs for arriving flights, then I doubt that the customs agents would allow anyone to get off the plane, as there is no one to present them with paperwork or deal with passengers who are unable to enter the country. Also, unless they simply reboarded everyone back onto the plane, there is no one there to help rebook passengers onto missed connecting flights, etc.

    I know for a fact that you can clear customs in another airport with a FIS even if it is not the planes final destination. There have, over the years, been a few Alaska Airlines flights from Mexico to Seattle that, for various reasons, weren't able to make it into Seattle without stopping. I remember one that diverted to Sacramento where the entire plane cleared customs before continuing on to Seattle. However, it was probably only because of the presence of agents trained to handle Alaska flights that it was possible. Had the plane diverted to a city without a FIS or where Alaska didn't fly (hard to find on the west coast) I doubt the passengers would have been screened before the plane arrived in Seattle.


    User currently offlineTPAPDX From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 87 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 8, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 11576 times:

    I can't for the life of me imagine what the issue was, however, since I don't know what time the flight arrived in PDX , I can only guess perhaps it arrived after the customs agents had gone home.

    However, they are normally on staff from about 6:00am to about 1 or 2pm, since the flights from AMS and FRA arrive mid-day. If they arrived during those hours, I could not see why they wouldn't just off-load the passengers and baggage and process them as normal, even if it would have taken a little longer than normal.

    Perhaps a problem with the local CBP offcials refusing to work the flight, or working overtime was an issue. This seems to be a government red-tape problem, and from what I've heard, getting them to be flexible, and at times cooperative, can be a futile effort for the airlines and airports. I don't think this is specific issue with PDX, but at all airports.

    It should be priority number 1 to insure all passengers are handled in a timeley, professional, and courteous manner, and, to remain flexible to situations that may arise such as this.


    User currently offline707lvr From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 585 posts, RR: 2
    Reply 9, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 11555 times:

    This story is almost too outrageous to be true. I hope someone can come up with more information.

    Either that pilot decided on his own to return to Mexico City in a snit (highly unlikely) or some minor functionary at PDX has far more power than sense. Sadly, we'll never find out who he/she is or have a role in dealing with him/her appropriately.


    User currently offlineRwSEA From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 3105 posts, RR: 2
    Reply 10, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 11376 times:

    Cases like this tell us why we need a passenger bill or rights. I would be interested to know more details though - like why couldn't the plane have gone to SFO or LAX rather than all the way back to MEX?

    Regarding PDX customs, I fail to understand why a certain city would have such "tough" customs people. Why is the training not standardized so the process is consistent at all ports of entry?

    If customs truly is at fault here, I hope the Federal Government is sued. Big time. Lots of money - huge payout. It's the only way things will ever change.


    User currently offlineArcrftLvr From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 826 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 11, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 10474 times:



    Quoting Asqx (Reply 7):
    Perhaps the problem lies not in the availability of customs agents, but instead the fact that Aeromexico does not fly to PDX and therefore has no agents, facilities, etc with which to help the passengers and deal with any issues that may arise? If Aeromexico doesn't have anyone available to them who are cleared to work in customs for arriving flights, then I doubt that the customs agents would allow anyone to get off the plane, as there is no one to present them with paperwork or deal with passengers who are unable to enter the country. Also, unless they simply reboarded everyone back onto the plane, there is no one there to help rebook passengers onto missed connecting flights, etc.

    Why couldn't another Skyteam partner, such as Delta, assist with this?


    As far as timing out, from my calculations, the flight from MEX-SEA is roughly six (6) hours. If they sat on the ground for the four (4) hours indicated in the story, then the pilot would have timed out prior to returning to MEX. Is that against the FARs?

    Something seems fishy....


    User currently offlineF9Animal From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 5054 posts, RR: 28
    Reply 12, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 9572 times:

    This is awful. I see no excuse for the treatment these passengers got. The customs agents could have at least offered options to the passengers. The police were also wrong to threaten arrest to anyone that got off the aircraft. What if the aircraft mx'd, and was unable to go back to Mexico from PDX? I seriously think the operations of PDX owes sincere apologies to the passengers and crew of this flight. There is just no excuse. There are plenty of international flights going into PDX, and the customs agents were outright wrong as far as I am concerned. It would have been the right thing to do, and they failed.


    I Am A Different Animal!!
    User currently offlineJuventus From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 2835 posts, RR: 2
    Reply 13, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 9485 times:

    The problem is that this is all over the news, TV, newspapers, everywhere. Who's going to get 100% of the blame, Aeromexico. Nobody else, but the airline involved, not customs, not the airport

    User currently offlineJpyvr From Canada, joined Jan 2000, 125 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 14, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 9421 times:



    Quoting HikesWithEyes (Reply 1):

    I've long been curious why Portland, of all places, has such rigid and unbending immigration and customs agents. Although it's not specifically airline related, I can tell you that from years of experience importing containers of cargo into Portland, the amount of hassle and red tape there, compared to other US ports of entry was incredible - plus the agents were invariably rude and inflexible. Many importers regularly chose to send their containers to Seattle, and then ship them by rail to Portland just to avoid entering through Portland. Why is this allowed to continue? Is it some sort of workplace culture there?


    User currently offlineF9Animal From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 5054 posts, RR: 28
    Reply 15, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 9323 times:



    Quoting Juventus (Reply 13):
    The problem is that this is all over the news, TV, newspapers, everywhere. Who's going to get 100% of the blame, Aeromexico. Nobody else, but the airline involved, not customs, not the airport

    The articles I have read, blast customs and police. In my view, I can't see any blame being thrown on Aeromexico. They did their job by safely transporting their guests, and ran into a weather issue. I can't see blaming the airline in this case. It was poor judgment by customs, and I think the general public clearly sees that.



    I Am A Different Animal!!
    User currently offlineFlyboy7974 From United States of America, joined Jan 2003, 1540 posts, RR: 2
    Reply 16, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 7901 times:

    The link I attached shows the arrival time into PDX, what, just before 8pm or around that if I'm correct. Know that most international flights arrive much earlier in the day, but didn't Mexicana in the last year offer service that arrived in the 10pm area and then departed back for Mexico the following hour, so, were agents just on hand for that one specific flight?

    And as mentioned, the AM flight passed right back over numerous other AM stations that had personnel on hand at that hour which I think could have handled a 737.


    User currently offlineRwSEA From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 3105 posts, RR: 2
    Reply 17, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 7650 times:

    Upon reading further articles, it appears that customs agents at PDX had gone home for the day. If that's the case, it seems the most prudent course of action would have been to divert to SFO, process pax there, and then put them on other carriers. There were only 38 pax on board.

    User currently offlineCsavel From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1363 posts, RR: 4
    Reply 18, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 6696 times:

    With regards to PDX being having tough customs and immigration, without starting a flame war, could it be possible that the ultra left reputation of the city meant payback by a rightie administration. in other words the more crunchy granola your town, the more "Cool Hand Luke sherrif" types we're gonna throw there?

    i wonder if San Francisco or New York also has that reputation.

    just curious as to whether domestic political decisions weigh into things like that.



    I may be ugly. I may be an American. But don't call me an ugly American.
    User currently offlineFlyboy7974 From United States of America, joined Jan 2003, 1540 posts, RR: 2
    Reply 19, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 6628 times:

    Hadn't seen anywhere that there were only 38 pax on board, where did you see that? Surprised the one article states that they had to get fast food for the pax being with only 38 pax on the flight, would have thought they'd have excess catering to some extent to at least take care of the pax to some extent.

    User currently offlineHikesWithEyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 816 posts, RR: 7
    Reply 20, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 6361 times:



    Quoting RwSEA (Reply 10):
    would be interested to know more details though - like why couldn't the plane have gone to SFO or LAX rather than all the way back to MEX?

    OK, assuming that you mean the original diversion, it might have made more sense
    for AM to go back to MEX where they would have a replacement crew (as opposed to SFO/LAX
    where they might have had a useable crew, but then their flight would have been affected).

    I have had plenty of experience dealing with Customs/INS over the years, and there seems
    to be a sense of entitlement amongst a lot of the civil servants employed there.

    Having said that, I can see where it would be difficult for Customs/INS to get people to come
    back to the airport after their shifts to handle an extra flight.



    First, benzene in my Perrier, and now this!
    User currently offlineRwSEA From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 3105 posts, RR: 2
    Reply 21, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 6247 times:



    Quoting Csavel (Reply 18):
    i wonder if San Francisco or New York also has that reputation.

    In my experience, SFO has some of the friendliest customs people in the country.


    User currently offlineJetdeltamsy From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 2987 posts, RR: 7
    Reply 22, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 5713 times:



    Quoting HikesWithEyes (Reply 1):
    Portland was known as "deportland" during the DL Asia days
    due to the Customs/INS agents.

    The reputation of the Customs agents was because when DL was huge at PDX to Asia, there were a very, very high number of those attempting to enter our country illegall....much worse tha New York and Los Angeles.

    i got this information from an employee newsletter years (YEARS) ago when the company announced with reduction of Asia flights at PDX.



    Tired of airline bankruptcies....EA/PA/TW and finally DL.
    User currently offlineDreamflight767 From United States of America, joined Dec 2008, 90 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 23, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days ago) and read 4532 times:
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    On the day of this event, the visibly was below AM's minimums. The WX showed no sign of improving until the following afternoon.

    After holding for a few hours (not sure how many exactly) the crew decided to divert to PDX where it arrived about 20:30 local. Arrangements were made for DL ground staff to handle the a/c at gate D14.

    As mentioned above, at that time of night customs is no longer on airport property. For an unknown reason customs would not come to the airport to process the pax. At some point, someone, somewhere decided the a/c would return to MEX.


    User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 19724 posts, RR: 58
    Reply 24, posted (5 years 8 months 2 days ago) and read 4600 times:



    Quoting RwSEA (Reply 10):
    Cases like this tell us why we need a passenger bill or rights.

    I fully support such a measure, but this isn't one of those cases.

    Amendment XIV: "Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. "

    What the Customs did in this case was unconstitutional and therefore, necessarily illegal. They denied U.S. Citizens the right to enter their own country.

    The correct course of action is for the U.S. Citizens and Nationals aboard that flight to find out who the Customs administrator was in that situation and file suit.


    25 Davescj : Again -- time for a PAX bill of rights. I can't see why DL wouldn't have been willing to help. The US citizens should complain to their congressman. T
    26 Tiger119 : - Sad but likely true - I can not speak SFO but I have gone through MSY and had absolutely no problem at all and the agents were professional and fri
    27 Tsalas08 : There is absolutely no reason that one or two agents couldn't handle a 737 in the 4 hours the plane sat on the ground. If that's not possible, a super
    28 DocLightning : Duh. We're the friendliest city in the country!
    29 SANFan : Here's a thought: with the time frame involved in this incredible tale, and assuming even more lead time as the possibility of a diversion should hav
    30 Jetboy319 : I just want to say in defense of the PDX INS Officers.... yes, they were horrid when Delta ran their Asian flights from here. But things have certainl
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