As an international traveler, there aren't many moments worse than sitting in a stale metal tube for countless hours, finally landing at a destination, and then turning the corner inside the airport to see a Kafka-esque nightmare of a line between you and the exit.
That's exactly what thousands of travelers at Miami International Airport lived through last night thanks to a massive computer malfunction by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB). Lines stretched for hours through the airport after passport control stations effectively shut down.
Travelers tweeted photos and videos of the chaos:
So what happened? A "processing system" went on the fritz last night, and not just at MIA. Travelers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport were also caught in hours-long mazes of exhausted visitors trying to get through customs.
CPB has yet to explain exactly what happened, though the agency says it never lost access to its national security database and was still able to screen people during the outage lats night — it just took forever.
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This morning, the agency said the problem has been fixed and there's no indication that hacking or a cyberattack were to blame for the bedlam.
All airports are back on line after a temporary outage of #CBP’s processing systems. No indication the disruption was malicious in nature.— CBP (@CustomsBorder) January 3, 2017
That's great and all, but probably little solace to the hordes of people who spent their evening sweating in a passport line at MIA instead of heading home or to their hotels.