Wednesday 2 May 2012

T5 Heathrow queues are bitter sweet

Whilst passing through the airport I alighted on a sight that made me reconsider the disaster that it the full passport check imposed on non EU nationals.

Plenty of EU nationals were with me and we all whizzed through, whilst a massive queue was building on the non-EU side.

Most of this consisted on Amercian businessman as it was redeye arrival time. Wow, were they pissed, to use the American parlance.

Waving their precious Blue passports and demanding special treatment.

'Well' I thought, 'Now you know.'

Having travelled and lived in the US, passport control there is a nightmare, in the 1990's I was travelling often on my own on a Irish passport, that meant instantly being taken aside at any airport and sent to sit with the Mexicans and others for between three and six hours. Harshly questioned and then sent on my way. In the same vein the US Government demands data from our airlines about passengers casually states it will keep all this information for at least 15 years.

In fact many non-Eu countries make it a tight pain to travel to them in my experience, so perhaps our Heathrow revenge should be lauded rather than whined about?


Old BE said...

I agree with this, but the US citizens will have no concept of how badly treated "others" are at their airports.

I landed in Chicago once to find that the immigration hall had no pens so I could not fill in my forms! It was a farce. Luckily some helpful fellow Brit lent me his. Otherwise I don't know what I would have done!

Always take a pen to the US.

Anonymous said...

No, US citizens are treated badly when getting into the US as well. The Americans who wave their passports around at LHR are probably on their first trip outside North America. Seasoned travellers know that JFK is much worse.

Electro-Kevin said...

It shouldn't be easy to get into anyone else's country - least of all a free and developed one ... that's if they wish to remain free and developed. The US has it right - we have it wrong. We ceded our capital to Muslim fanatics - the US rightly treats us as the risk that we are.

That we now have EU wide borders means we have no means of setting population limits whilst still managing to piss off useful trading partners who offer us economic growth rather than economic stagnation and a duff currency.

That David Cameron has cut our border staff,especially when he promised to bring immigration down to five figures, has cost him the next general election in my view.

Electro-Kevin said...

Anon @ 10.19

'Americans nutters with guns'

That may seem so but we Europeans could just as easily be classed the same on recent form.

Old BE said...

EK there is a huge gulf between people hiding in tomato lorries and flying in on American to Heathrow, though. Are you really saying that the Americans et al. aren't welcome to holiday in our country?

Arriving as a high-spending, welcome tourist in our city should be an efficient process, anything else just p's people off before they've even got to be p'd off by the travel options into the city.

We've known we're holding the Olympics for seven years or so, why the f*** has the border agency not sorted this out?

Heathrow has long been an awful welcome to the country.

Bill Quango MP said...

I always remembered both the US and UK being equally bad. Long queues at each.

But only a few years back Miami would have giant signs in the waiting area such as "welcome to Florida- . Have a fantastic stay. We welcome you to our country and our state."

The only comparable sign in the Heathrow blank walled, fluorescent bulb flicker of the bunker holding pen was

- A maximum of 10 packs of cigarettes can be bought into the country.
- A maximum of a half bottle of wine.
- 45 bic lighters
- not more than £7.50 of gift.

Duty is required to be paid on all excess..

We looked such a cheap skate, high taxing, desperate country.
Almost as if the revenue from the big toblerones and old holborn was the only revenue coming in to the entire nation.

Infrequent visitor said...

As a seasoned traveller, my experience is that Los Angeles is by far the most cussed airport to get through, even if you are only in transit. It is exceptionally easy to miss a connection there if you have less than three or four hours to get to another part of the terminal and then recheck in. Australian airports are very strict but exceptionally efficient - and generally courteous to arriving visitors.

British airports are a pain with rude staff and 18th century conditions, even for British passport holders - which is one of the reasons why I live abroad and return as infrequently as possible.

CityUnslicker said...

I lived in LA so the last comments ring true for me!

Old BE said...

US immigration staff also seem to be wilfully ignorant of the very concept of transit. Much easier to put on your form that you are staying at the Holiday Inn than to say "I'm only going to be in the country for three hours because I'm en route to wherever". They just don't geddit.

I remember sprinting all the way across Houston airport to meet a connection. About two thirds of the way to my departure gate a concerned security man stopped me and checked me for explosives. I don't actually blame him I was moving like a lunatic!

I got to the gate just as the last person was boarding. Phew!

Anonymous said...

Often travel to the US. Last time got delayed in Chicago for 2hours at immigration. Missed my connecting flight and then had to wait 10 hrs for the next one. Airline acted as if their was perfectly normal and reasonable.

Previous occassion flew into San Francisco and was treated like a common criminal for having $5 of samples in my briefcase. Two customs officials with brains the size of peas thought they just had to be worth >$25,000.

If I had the time I would have written to the American embassy to complain it was so bad.

Elby the Beserk said...

The worst immigration procedures I have ever encountered have been at Newark Airport. Twice. Each time we were treated like shit, and made aware that nay protest would bring very nasty results. Beyond rude, even to mums with babes in arms. Enough to put you off going to the USA.

"Please prove you are not a robot" could be changed to "Please prove you have 20/20 eyesight". Lets see if I can decode the word verification. Most of it is just a smear. Even with my specs on.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

I fly to LAX at least once per month; the immigration queue is invariably longer than an hour, even in a quiet terminal like T2 (fly Air NZ - they're the best!). In the international terminal it can be as long as 3 hours. So a bunch of Yanks whinging in T5? F*** 'em. They're getting a taste of their own medicine.

Nick Drew said...

Agree with all; and yes, US citizens are often turned over in US airports too. Good friend of mine (an upstanding + decorated Vietnam pilot of WASP persuasion) once made a sarcastic comment at Immigration. He was delayed interminably at the time and reckons they put the Black Spot on his passport because he almost always gets a hard time whenever he returns to USA

dearieme said...

We've arrived at LAX by Air NZ when their records have shown one of us to have health "issues". They've been pretty good - and so, believe it or not, has Heathrow.

Infrequent visitor again said...

I have flown to NZ via LAX on Air NZ, both via Fiji and Tahiti. They are very good, but the connection time is far too short - almost impossible to meet if the UK departure is delayed even slightly - and on more than one occasion I have been pulled out of the incoming crowd lines by NZ ground staff searchng for missing passengers they know have just arrived from London. They also managed to get my bags successfully transferred direct to the onward flights in time. So kudos to them.

Glad I am not the only one who has an adverse opinion of travelling to and through the USA. My wife and I have decided that we will never again set foot in the place as all the "terrorist" bollox and aggro is just not worth it when there are so many other interesting places to visit elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

"My wife and I have decided that we will never again set foot in the place"

Don't blame you. Went to florida for two weeks and got fed up with paying tolls everywhere. You can't get out of the airport without paying a toll - but they can't be bothered to staff the toll-booths. Car hire companies can't be bothered to tell you about the tolls and then decide they can't be bothered to give you a car!

Whole place was a money grubbing experience which made the whole holiday sour even though it was actually quite cheap.

jaffa said...

My Brother in-law is a Chief Engineer on Refrigerated Ships that trade from LA to Japan then NZ then Central America then LA. They always used to change crews in LA but had difficulties. Last time he went he was held and questioned as to why he kept on leaving the country 12 hours after he arrived. After 24 hours immigration let him proceed. The ship had had to stay in port an extra 12 hours as a result of his detention. The company sued for the 2 million dollars the delay cost but got no where. They now change crews in Mexico I wonder why.

Graeme said...

te thing these immigration "checks" and "controls" actually achieve anything?

The people who are inconvenienced are tha law-abiding multitudes.

Thje international super-criminals just use other routes.

It is a way for the bureaucrats to avenge themselves on their masters. Anf that is all that can be said for all these stupid border checks.

Graeme said...

an oyster card would sort all this shit out

Anonymous said...

The bombadins just wear their aunties burqa, belly-ache about 'racism' and get waved-though

Weekend Yachtsman said...

I have totally give up on flying within Europe.

Trains are so much more civilised.

Anonymous said...

JFK arrivals 20 years ago, small queue for Septics, enormous queue for all others. After about 30 minutes in the queue, still miles from the front (and we had a connecting flight to catch) our baby son started crying and wouldn't stop - soon an immigration officer appeared and led us straight to a desk!

(Three young English lads behind us then started "crying" too - don't know if it worked for them)