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airsnoop
20th May 2008, 06:56
I recently staged through Miami as a pax - BA then AA to Montego Bay. My wife was sent to the 'backroom' at immigration - 30 mins later her passport was returned with no thanks or explanation. At security for the AA flight she was sent into the 'glass box' and then her shoes/handbag were swabbed - another 30 mins. Again no thanks or explanation, in fact they were bloody rude in both instances!
What is worrying is that she is a 75 year old lady - the terrorists must have a field day while the Americans are hasstling old ladies.
I have been in the airline business for almost 50 years and that is the last time I intend to visit that uncivilised, backward country.

Loxley
20th May 2008, 08:31
Airsnoop,

I fully sympathise with you.

I'm fairly well travelled and in my experience it only seems to be the Americans who hire the most obnoxious, rude, unsmiling and impolite people they can find for their immigration and customs staff.

In the last 3 years I have flown into America 4 times and each time was the same. I once even had another American passenger apologise to me on behalf of an immigration officer after particularly shoddy treatment.

What infuriates me even more is that once you get into the country, the American general public (although I guess it depends where you are! :) ) are amongst the friendliest, most polite and helpful in the world.

I think it's just a power thing. These idiots don't have the brain power to do anything else and when they get given a uniform and a big shiny badge, it elevates their ego to the extreme so they think they're more important than they actually are.

Rant Over.

call100
20th May 2008, 10:10
My parents have stopped flying to visit my Brother in America for the same reasons.
They are both in their 80's my Mother has a wheelchair. They were both split up and lost each other for a short while which made them worry. My father was interrogated (No other word for it) for 20 minutes with questions that had obvious answers.
US security/immigration employees are the worst paid of the Government agencies and you can see why. :ugh:

Bushfiva
20th May 2008, 11:46
I recently went through Hawaii, and I must say I was treated very decently in both directions. I've travelled through LAX on and off over the years, had a PortPass when they were available, and the only time times there were hassles were when I was doing something or carrying something that required slightly more attention. Even then, the matter escalated in a manner I was comfortable with.

On the other hand, a US-born, US citizen friend of mine is related to the first US ambassador to Mexico who could actually speak Spanish, is an honorary goodwill ambassador for a sport the US excels in, and is routinely treated like a turd stuck to Immigration's shoe, so I guess YMMV.

GANNET FAN
20th May 2008, 11:53
I have been to Denver for the last 3 winters and have been lucky to have been treated politely and correctly. I think your port of entry must make a difference. I know Miami does have a huge number of people arriving, almost swamping the immegration area, maybe that makes the difference.

Loxley
20th May 2008, 14:04
GANNET FAN,

you could well be right. The bad experiences I have had have been at Washington DC, Boston and JFK.

radeng
20th May 2008, 16:38
I entered the US last Wednesday at Dallas, went through security for internal flights at Dallas on Thursday and Dayton, Oh., on Sunday. I found the procedure far less painful than going through LHR! Admittedly, LHR immigration is never a problem except sometimes for the queues, but the security lot could well, in my experience (15 times through LHR this year) usefully learn from the TSA in DFW and PHX - I don't know about elsewhere.

LHR T4 suggested I take my belt off. I pointed out that mytrousers would come down, and they rapidly changed their minds, commenting that they thought it would not be a pretty sight. How right they are.......In any event, it didn't set the detector off.

I suppose it really is 'YMMV'. But I must have been through TSA security some 30 or 40 times with only one problem - they asked what I had in my bag, and I said 'Just a torch'

In American, 'torch' = 'blow lamp' In English 'torch' = 'flashlight'.

Just as 'rubber' = 'condom' and 'rubber' = 'eraser'

'dyke' = 'ditch' and 'dyke' = 'diagonal side cutters'.

' momentarily' = 'shortly' and 'momentarily' = 'for a short period of time'

Two nations divided by a common language!!!!!

Hotel Tango
20th May 2008, 19:14
My experiences with the USA is that it's very much hit & miss. I've had both good and poor even at the same airport of entry. Some of the (few) poor experiences I had were prior to 911, so it's nothing new. With immigration I just remain polite and answer their questions without any attempt at humour (unless of course the immigration guy makes a funny - yes it happens). With the TSA I just grit my teeth and let the imbeciles enjoy their power trip and bark their orders at me.

tezzer
20th May 2008, 19:27
It's normally a pain, it's humorless, but not always.

Coming out of Charlotte NC., I was sided, for treatment, being on an alien's passport (Great Britain).

Shoes off. Check

Stand on the mat. Check

Raise your arms. Check.

Lift your left leg. (?) Check.

Lift your right leg. (?) Check.

Look to the left. Check.

Look to the Right. Check.

Cough. I coughed ! HA HA WE GOT ANOTHER ONE.

Have a nice day, sir.

Well, it made both of our days.

flyr767
20th May 2008, 19:33
Really if you're just polite and treat the dumbass TSA guys like they're people (believe it or not they are) they tend not to screw with you. I've never had a problem even setting off the metal detectors... "Oh, my belt. Sorry." Even set it off a second time with my watch and still I never had to go off to a private area to be screened further. Just being polite and showing that you're human will generally give you better treatment! :}

Though, mind you this is all domestic side. I've never had the pleasure of going through an international point of entry.

Loxley
20th May 2008, 22:27
Really if you're just polite and treat the dumbass TSA guys like they're people (believe it or not they are) they tend not to screw with you.

Which is fine, but then these idiots need to remember the same thing. The passengers are just people as well. I mean realistically, how many millions of people go through the worlds airports every day? And how many of these people are then stopped and subsequently proven to be terrorists en-route to their 77 virgins? Negligible numbers, if any. Thats the thing that grates the most. The massive, MASSIVE majority of people are being treated like $hit for what?

intortola
20th May 2008, 23:33
Loxley, i think you miss the point being made by flyr676. I enter or transit the USA at least 10 times a year. Immigration, customs and TSA at all airports i use have become far friendlier in recent years but then i treat them as i wish to be treated myself. Its a shame that the same cannot be said of BAA security at LHR and LGW who are all miserable with absolutely no personalities- total jobsworths!! In response to the original post by airsnoop, my inlaws experienced something similar some years ago at MIA, turned out the I-94 hadnt been handed in from a previous trip, their treatment was quite abismal but after a complaint we received a written letter of apology and we have had no problems ever since.

Dushan
21st May 2008, 03:39
What infuriates me even more is that once you get into the country, the American general public (although I guess it depends where you are! ) are amongst the friendliest, most polite and helpful in the world.


And some of those friendly, polite people you meet on the street are actually those who work as customs/immigration officers. They are great guys and gals. Just meet them at a bar, a shooting range, or a gun meet. They are friendly and have a sense of humor. However their job is to guard the border, and as such they must be intimidating, unfriendly, and suspicious of everybody. They definitely don't like a "smartass".

fendant
21st May 2008, 10:48
I am flying to the US at least 12 times per year. My experiences with immigration are negative with vast majority. Airports also vary, ORD, LAX, JKF and MIA are consistently bad. BOS is ok when you get in as 1st int'l plane. Both depart from the assumptions that there are good guys = US citizens and terrorists = all others. There is also the rule, that they work slower as longer the queues are. Bear in mind that they hired all employees from low cost private agencies and made them state employees. The good news is that they all have medical insurance now.

It seems that the newer Int'l airports like PDX, CLT, DFW are treating us "aliens" with a little more dignity.

For a certain time travelling into the US via Canada was easier and friendlier, however recently I had in Montreal the most rude and unpolite US immigration officer I have ever come across. He even had the same name as the airport.
Flying in the US domestic is easy as long as you book a return ticket through a US company, pay it with a US credit card and show your US driving license as photo ID. If you are travelling on an international ticket with a non US passport you are immediately classified as pontential terrorist ( even when you are 85 years old). in this case your ticket is coded SSSS, which means that you are subject to "special" treatment, which can easily addd 45 - 60 mins at security. I have never met in "special" queue US citizens.
My family , wife, parents and kids, refuse any proposal to vacation in the US after repeated unfortunate experiences in the past years with Homeland security and TSA staff.

intortola
21st May 2008, 10:57
Fendant , the SSSSS is a random additional security screening, it is not automatic for non US international passengers, i have had it once in the last 12 months and it caused no more than an additional few minutes at security. I believe the UK operates a similar system by counting passengers, 1 in every so many. I travel on a British passport, i am also not a US citizen.
These guys are there to do a job, treat them with respect and you get that respect back.

radeng
21st May 2008, 10:59
I seem to remember reading a few years back that Colin Powell, in evidence to a congressional committee, stated that the entry restrictions had cost the US economy something like $3.6 billion a year in loss of visitors and students.

Dublinflyer
21st May 2008, 13:39
If you have the option you should try to connect through DUB, the US border protection people there are the nicest bunch of Guys and Gals and get you through quickly.

fendant
21st May 2008, 14:45
Yep, DUB really is an option. I hear this frequently.

Wish Switzerland would do the same thing and have US immigration in a reserved space in Terrible E.

EI-CFC
21st May 2008, 15:31
However their job is to guard the border, and as such they must be intimidating, unfriendly, and suspicious of everybody.

Nonsense. Plenty of them do a great job without being unpleasant. The others, however, just seem to be like that "just because"

PaperTiger
21st May 2008, 15:39
The SSSS notation on your boarding pass is most certainly NOT random.
It is generated by the airlines' check-in process according to some out-dated and completely spurious logic (see: CAPPS).

There is so-called random additional screening (the pat-downs/wandings) at the checkpoint, determined by the screeners. Mostly it's not truly random either, more likely you did something to p!ss the screener(s) off.

419
21st May 2008, 16:13
Late last year I was selected for an SSSS inspection (Secondary Security Screening Selection) when flying from Orlando to London.
This only involved a brief chat with a TSA man, and a good look in my carry on baggage.

I found out afterwards that this was due to me purchasing a one way ticket from the USA, a few hours before the flight was due to depart.

It probably didn't help matters that I have lots of passport stamps from an African country which is on the American "watch list"

PaperTiger
21st May 2008, 17:04
It probably didn't help matters that I have lots of passport stamps from an African country which is on the American "watch list"Would not have factored into the SSSS equation. Their 'system' is not that sophisticated :ooh: shhhh....

Olympus593
21st May 2008, 18:10
I have been a professional flight attendant for 19 years. I hold a UK passport (Government issued), a UK Airside air permit (Government approved) and a US Visa (US government approved).

Why the hell do I get more hassle, in or out of uniform when I try to enter the US than someone on a US visa waiver programme?
Its not like I have a name on any "Most wanted list", I'm Scots/Irish!

I have found the TSA to be gradually getting worse in terms of "service" over the years. Yes it is tedious dealing with people who can't fill in a form, but is there any justification for treating anyone like shit?
On entering St John, UVI, on vacation, I was bullied beyond belief.

I was almost reduced to tears by the total C*NT on Border control.

I'm a 40 year old man FFS!

intortola
21st May 2008, 18:24
You are correct about St John, though it was only those of us that live in the British Virgin Islands they give a hard time too, St Thomas is not much better but San Juan now is hassle free although can be slow.

Loxley
22nd May 2008, 06:51
However their job is to guard the border, and as such they must be intimidating, unfriendly, and suspicious of everybody.

Nonsense. Plenty of them do a great job without being unpleasant. The others, however, just seem to be like that "just because"

Exactly. There's no need whatsoever to be intimidating, unfriendly and suspicious of everybody.

skydriller
22nd May 2008, 10:08
Couple of comments :

1) The SSSS thing is definately NOT RANDOM.....And it does indeed mean a bit of a third degree interrogation/search, I know this because it seems I am always flagged with this when flying out of the USA.

2) The ammount of hassle you get from US immigration does indeed depend on the port of entry. Agree that DFW/Houston have the most friendly staff.

3) Before the US ramped up security/immigration/Visa hassle to foriegners my company did virtually all its training courses in the USA. Now it does almost half of this training in other countries such as the UK and Dubai.

172driver
22nd May 2008, 17:24
I'm fairly well travelled and in my experience it only seems to be the Americans who hire the most obnoxious, rude, unsmiling and impolite people they can find for their immigration and customs staff.

You haven't been through one of the hellholes masquerading as airports in the UK recently then, have you ? Frankly, the UK is BY FAR the worst. Worldwide. Rude and primitive security staff ("shoes off, guv"), inefficient immigration, largely incompetent staff, lousy airports.

In contrast, my recent experiences in the US were largely positive. Even flew out of BOS on Sep 11 (:eek:). Arrived at the airport with plenty of time, expecting thorough searches. Thorough they were, but carried out in a polite and professional matter - in under a minute.

Perhaps I'm lucky, but I - so far - never had any serious hassle entering or leaving the US, and I do this on a pretty regular basis.

John Hill
25th May 2008, 01:54
My most recent transit through LAX (SLF) had me just a little anxious about the several 'axis of evil' stamps in my passport but I went through without a hitch. My poor wife who had not been out of New Zealand for a decade or so was given a quite uncomfortable grilling.

Ron & Edna Johns
25th May 2008, 05:52
I've said it before and I'll say it again:

I'll never go to the USA on holiday ever again. The hit or miss reception - potentially very unpleasant. The frightening queues both on arrival and (shudder) on departure. Tom Bradley - my God... The SSSS upon departure (guaranteed if you have the audacity to be staff-traveling) is nothing short of humiliation. I'm a 737 Captain, FFS, what threat do they think I pose?

The Americans are welcome to the USA. They can have it. Sad in so many ways as I know that once you're there the Americans are decent, friendly people. And I would have loved to see Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.

But frankly, there are other places in the world I want to see ahead of the USA now.

VAFFPAX
25th May 2008, 15:24
The only places where I have had rude TSA staff have been ATL (southern hospitality???), IAD (politics, enough said) and EWR (NY anyone?).

ORD, SEA, PDX, MCI, SFO, LAX (granted, not the Tom Bradley terminal)... never a problem. ONT had one problem because the TSA eejit screening me didn't mark my boarding pass as having screened me, which caused a massive row between TSA and the boarding agents (and me in the middle), delaying the flight. I've never been so embarrassed.

SSSS is NOT random. Ever. Not for foreign pax anyway. ALL foreign passport holders are s/screened on domestic flights in the US. I've grown used to it.

S.

gdiphil
25th May 2008, 16:48
Perhaps I have a nice face, Mrs gdi and junior gdi most certainly do, but I have not encountered the kind of hassle I keep hearing about. OK once in July 1994 at Nashville when it was for a year an international gateway for Brits travelling from LGW on AA non-stop to BNA, but not at any time before that or since have I or when traveling with the family found anything other than a professional attitude on the part of US immigration, customs or TSA. Three weeks ago we went thru ORD and the lady immigration officer asked a lot of questions but they were all pertinent and the answers satisfied her. Maybe it really is down to my nice face. The Nashville incident all those years ago was just plain funny. Our daughter was a babe in arms and the 3 of us presented ourselves to the immigration officer who immediately took umbrage over the fact we were not married. I said we are a family. I was told in no uncertain terms that we were not. I was asked to step back to the line. I asked the lady who she would like our daughter to be separated from, her mother or her father. I was told to step back to the yellow line, and of course I did. The officer then proceeded to ask the soon to become Mrs gdi how much money she was carrying. The not yet Mrs gdi turned to me and asked me how much money we were carrying. "No, not him, how much have you got?" None was her reply. "Where are you staying in the US?" Turning to me the soon to be Mrs gdi asked where are we staying. "Don't talk to him" shouted the officer. A lot of banging on forms then took place and the soon to be Mrs gdi and junior were admitted. I then presented my passport. Not one question asked of me. Passport stamped and I'm admitted. It's that nice face I tell you.

skydriller
25th May 2008, 21:05
Our daughter was a babe in arms and the 3 of us presented ourselves to the immigration officer who immediately took umbrage over the fact we were not married. I said we are a family. I was told in no uncertain terms that we were not. I was asked to step back to the line. I asked the lady who she would like our daughter to be separated from, her mother or her father. I was told to step back to the yellow line, and of course I did. The officer then proceeded to ask the soon to become Mrs gdi how much money she was carrying. The not yet Mrs gdi turned to me and asked me how much money we were carrying. "No, not him, how much have you got?" None was her reply. "Where are you staying in the US?" Turning to me the soon to be Mrs gdi asked where are we staying. "Don't talk to him" shouted the officer.

Yes, looking back its funny.....but what did you/your wife think at the time? Why are they shouting at you?:ouch:

My visits to the US on business are such that I rarely know where I am staying before I arrive. Immigration dont like this. I have actually been told by a couple of immigration guys to always write down a hotel, even if I know I wont stay there, so as not to get hassled on future visits. :ugh:

The UK is also not a pleasant place to fly from, but luckily I can pretty much avoid the UK airports.... I think that the UK security is more petty than the USA with a rules is rules pompousness that definitely comes across as rude, as opposed to the more agressive nature of the TSA.

What gets me is that most of the "security" we see at airports is window dressing, what with granny parker being relieved of her knitting needles, evian and nail file.....its all so pointless... Id much rather everyone on the flight was given a foot long machete.....

419
25th May 2008, 22:57
Skydriller,
I've been told exactly the same thing.
I go to the USA a few times each year, and my normal system is to arrive, pick up a rental car, and then head off towards my final destination, which may well be a couple of hundred miles away.
Where I spend the first night depends on the weather, traffic, how tired I feel etc.

Now I just put down the name of a large airport hotel, even if I have no intention of staying there.

I wonder what the U.S government would make of their immigration officers advising visitors to lie on official documents.

radeng
26th May 2008, 06:24
My experience has been that if you travel first class, the SSSS doesn't seem to happen. Dunno why.

flyblue
26th May 2008, 06:25
As far as I an tell by going there several times a month, in the past couple of years Airport Security in the US has made efforts to improve the way they deal with the public. It was something close to a nightmare for few years after 2001. (In my company we had a joke :¨How do you say Welcome to th USA? NEEEEEEXT!¨) Only exception I came across lately is MIA, but it might be a coincidence. Never had any problem whatsoever, even had a few of them wanting to chat and being nice like actually saying ¨welcome¨, or commenting on the weather etc.
I find the UK experience worse by far. Staff are often quite rude, the rules uselessly strict (wanna talk about the one baggage rule?). Not even the US are that strict with Crews, nowhere the lines are that long, nowhere it takes that long. Nowhere in the world, not even in the US they bother crews for carrying lethal toothpaste or mass destruction hand cream or a crew bag plus one handbag like in the UK. Result, nobody in my company wants to fly from LHR if they can avoid it because of the Security experience :(

skydriller
26th May 2008, 07:38
Flyblue, you appear to be talking about crew. Remember that the USA decided to a certain extent to include crew in the security loop (They armed pilots:suspect:) and so you are "on their side" so to speak. Alot of the comment about the US is regarding the immigration service anyway....its the whole package of visiting the USA that is putting poeple off.

I agree 100% about UK airports "security" (and I use that word loosly) currently being the worst in the world, and as I have said I avoid UK airports like the plague because of it.

Though there was an interesting new twist on idiocy at CDG Terminal 2 last week.... Two security girls had formed a large queue demanding passengers boarding passes prior to the check-in area in front of the security post for the relavent gates....Naturally half the pax therefore had no boarding pass or ticket due to the electronic ticketing these days, causing arguements and delay for everyone. Knowing CDG pretty well now I sneeked around the back of the shop areas to one side and avoided it....:ugh::ugh:

Regards, SD..

flyblue
26th May 2008, 10:23
Don´t get me started about CDG...:* The least you could do when putting people in contact with the paying public (because we do pay airport services) is impose a minimum of manners and respect. Something that really makes me cringe, is when i get to the metal detector, and I explain that (because of something I cannot remove) the machine is going to go beep. So they know it´s gonna happen, right? So why, why, why do they have to yell/screech ¨MADAAAAAAAAME!!!!!¨ in a tone and volume that would be suitable to deal with a running criminal, and talk to you as if you were the scum of the earth??? :ugh:
A friend of mine who is a ground Supervisor for a big airline once told me that his company tried to talk to Aéroport de Paris about the issue of staff (used for less complicated tasks, let´s say) manners and hygiene (lots of passengers complained after seeing how some facilities were being cleaned). Their reply was that there was nothing to do, most of them coming from countries where they didn´t do manners and hygiene :rolleyes: The ¨communes¨ around the airport forced them to hire a percentage of their unemployed, so that they could not even choose people suitable for the job. Oh, ok then, so it means you can avoid to give them any basic training altogether, right? Just chuck them in their uniforms with a mop or a metal detector and let them loose on the paying public.

chrisbl
26th May 2008, 19:46
In my experience entering the US has become far less pleasant. In ranking terms (worst for Border Protection / immigration rudeness and slowness)

Miami - three times worse than the next
JFK - pig ignorant
ORD - ignorant
SEA - dull
Orlando
SFO
Las Vegas OK
Newark OK
ATL Efficient
Cleveland Very Efficient
Bangor pleasant
Dublin (capital of 51st State of USA ;)) Very pleasant


My experiemce

Eboy
30th May 2008, 13:18
I am really sorry for all the BS non-citizens have to go through at our airports (does "BS" translate to the UK?). We don't like it either. The government and the bureaucrats are not America. The people are. We are glad you are here from wherever, and being from the UK is particularly cool. I myself will approach anyone looking puzzled over guide book or map and offer to help, sometimes walking with them to their destinations and talking if it is on my way. If no one does that, you can ask nearly anyone if you are confused or need help. I hope things improve and you give it another go.

TightSlot
30th May 2008, 16:27
Eboy - BS translates perfectly - if it is any help to you, I agree absolutely about the people being different to the bureaucrats - many have been some of the friendliest and most helpful I have come across. Don't worry too much: I believe that most people would agree.

mutt
30th May 2008, 18:49
Due to my heritage and usual country of departure, i used to tell immigration officers that i was in the USA to drink beer and get l**d...... this was perfectly acceptable until BA forgot to return my I94 form. Since then i have had "immigration issues" regardless of the fact that teh questioned visa permitted a 90 stay and yet i returned INTO the USA within 40 days!!!!

After 4 visits and assurances that they would fix it, I started to avoid the usa.

Unfortunately, i have to go there next month for the 1st time in 5 years, i certainly have to say that its not by choice....... But if i get hassle it will just mean that the $5 million contract that i"m seeking will go to a European company....

Mutt

The Real Slim Shady
1st Jun 2008, 10:18
I guess I have been fortunate then. Last year in LAS the staff had us through in seconds ( with elderly mother in wheelchair) and could not have been more helpful.

In MXP and ORD the process was painless inbound, but the hassle we got was when we were leaving ORD.

She who must be obeyed was pulled to one side at the top of the airbridge for a pat down search; when I stopped to observe that t was done without any "assault" the security staff went apesh1t and threatened to arrest me if I didn't leave!