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LAX exec sends letter to Customs over pace

November 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Is Los Angeles International Airport getting a bad rap among international travelers? Many are complaining about the long lines, saying it can take hours to clear customs. The ongoing problem has drawn the attention of the airport's top executive.

Part of flying into Los Angeles International Airport, according to some international travelers, is understanding that a considerable amount of time could be spent going through customs.

"It was very lengthy to get here. The line was, I would say, probably 50 minutes long," said Calgary resident Leianne McNair.

According to Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey, 50 minutes is short when compared to the three hours some travelers have had to wait.

In a letter to the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Lindsey wrote that out of the 60 customs booths at LAX, only 20 are staffed during peak arrival times. She described the problems are chronic and reflect poorly on the airport.

"I think it was short-staffed, definitely, especially during the security check-throughs. Definitely there were a ton of people," said Vancouver resident David Choi. "I saw some open, vacant security checkpoints."

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol declined ABC7's request for an on-camera interview Friday. But the agency did release a written statement:

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection leaders strive to work closely with local authorities to facilitate business and passenger travel at all ports of entry.

"While security concerns prevent us from discussing CBP staffing levels at individual ports, we continually evaluate personnel needs to appropriately manage travel and trade."

Customs did not reveal if it plans to add agents to work at LAX.

According to an LAX spokesperson, the head of Customs and Border Protection has not responded to Lindsey's letter.


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