Officials allowed passengers arriving from Mexico to skip customs and leave John F. Kennedy airport without having their passports or bags checked – days after ISIS threatened an attack on New York City.
The incident involved American Airlines Flight 1671, which landed in the city from Cancun at 8.50pm on Friday.
A spokesman for the airline told that there had been 74 passengers on the flight and ‘some’ passengers did not go through immigration or customs before leaving the airport – although declined to reveal an exact figure.
She explained that the passengers had been incorrectly directed to a domestic terminal, but that officials then contacted the passengers and directed them to return to the airport for processing – with only one person still unaccounted for.
The airline said it is working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration to make sure the process is complete and a similar incident never happens again.
In a statement, the airline said: ‘We take the safety and security of our customers, employees and operation very seriously.
‘Some passengers on Flight 1671 did not complete the immigration and customs process upon arrival when they were inadvertently directed to the domestic terminal.
‘We are reviewing the matter with CBP to ensure the one remaining U.S. citizen completes the process and to prevent this from happening in the future.’
The New York Daily News reported that 150 passengers had been allowed to leave the airport after disembarking the flight without going through customs.
Nobody on board went through immigration or customs, one passenger told the Daily News.
The person revealed that there were only signs directing them towards baggage claim and the exit.
Another said: ‘They’re telling me that I am here illegally, that I’m trespassing, They said ‘If you don’t come in Monday, we’re sending FBI agents to your house.’
Both said agents from the airline and Customs and Border Protection have made ‘aggressive’ phone calls insisting they return to the airport.
They said they had to travel back from Connecticut in order to do so.
The security breach came days after ISIS released a propaganda video appearing to threaten an attack on the city.
The ISIS clip, which runs for nearly six minutes, came in the wake of a night of terror attacks in Paris that claimed the lives of 130 people.
It included footage of yellow cabs, crowds in Times Square and Herald Square in Manhattan, as French music played.
It then cuts to a man wrapping a bomb around his waist before walking into the crowds and pulling the trigger.
Shortly afterwards, New York mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers to go about their lives and insisted the city will not be cowed by extremists.
Meanwhile, reports have shown the extraordinary lengths some Syrians are going to in order to enter the United States, including plane-hopping and traveling with falsified documents.