BI apologizes after traveler missed flight due to lengthy immigration interview

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 16) — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday apologized to a Filipino traveler who detailed in a now-viral TikTok how she missed her flight after she was delayed by "irrelevant" questions from an immigration officer.

"A social media post recently made rounds on TikTok wherein a Filipina passenger recounted her unpleasant experience with immigration personnel in December 2022. She shared how she was asked numerous questions which she deemed irrelevant," the BI said in a statement.

It added that an investigation was immediately conducted and a full incident report has been sought from the immigration officer involved.

"We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused the Filipino passenger and other Filipino passengers," the bureau said.

The BI then warned passengers of human trafficking and illegal recruitment, noting that "numerous young urban professionals" fall victim to syndicates.

In a TikTok video titled "Immigration Rant," Cham Tanteras recounted her experience at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) before her solo trip to Israel in December.

She said she arrived at NAIA at 3 a.m. for her flight scheduled at 11 a.m. to avoid heavy traffic and lined up at the immigration around 6 a.m., where she was asked usual questions such as her recent trips and purpose of travel.

Tanteras shared she was then brought to the immigration office at Terminal 1 where she was interviewed by an immigration officer who "kept on asking [her] irrelevant questions."

"Number one, if my parents were separated or together. Number two, if I have my yearbook with me. I told the officer, 'Hey, I graduated college ten years ago, why would I even bring a yearbook in my travel?'" she said.

The traveler also claimed the officers rummaged through her email and documents, and even asked her to "write an essay" about her freelancing job.

The immigration officer allowed her to go only to find out that the gates to her flight were already closed. Tanteras said she booked another flight which cost her more.

The video has since garnered over 235,000 views on TikTok and has been reshared on other social media platforms.

The BI said it has reminded its personnel to conduct their inspections professionally and efficiently to prevent such incidents in the future.