International passengers bypass customs during security breach at O’Hare

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CHICAGO — Several passengers arriving on an international flight walked straight out of O'Hare, completely bypassing customs, during an apparent security breach at the airport's international terminal Wednesday.

A passenger — who did not want to be identified — told WGN he was arriving on Finnair Flight AY09 from Helsinki to Chicago Wednesday afternoon. After getting off the plane, the passenger said he walked to an exit, and followed a TSA Agent through the door leading outside.

There was no stop at customs, as there should be for any international flight arriving at O'Hare. When he noticed the error, the passenger said he went to an agent in the Customs and Border Control (CBP) office, and they told him to not worry and "just go ahead."

The agent didn't even check his passport. But five hours later, CBP came to his house.

A spokesperson for CBP confirms the incident took place, saying a Finnair station manager notified the agency some passengers bypassed customs, and agents processed those who could be found in the airport departure lounge. They said at least four people made it out without being checked, but all international passengers have now been accounted for.

Saying such incidents have happened before, the CBP spokesperson said it's up to the airlines to make sure passengers go from an arrival gate to customs, but a spokesperson with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it's CBP's responsibility.

WGN has contacted Finnair and the Chicago Department of Aviation for comment, and to determine whose responsibility it is to keep track of international passengers.

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