For once it was pretty empty at EWR's immigration facility, which I found surprising, but nevertheless nice. This was until I came to the "friendly" immigration officer. I was asked how I paid for my ticket as a grad student. Well, I have two jobs on the side and seem to get lucky when it comes to receiving airline vouchers. Then he pulled out a list and said that my name was on it and I was wanted in the US for dealing drugs. Then when I requested to look at the sheet, he covered it up and made me turn around. Then when I turned back, he marked the sheet of paper and made me turn around again. Now I was getting a little upset. Then he commented on me being a bit distraught and then saying that that makes me look even guiltier. After flipping through my passport he said that numerous stamps from Latin Americe made my case look even worse. Then, all of a sudden, he told me, that he was just joking, told me to get my prints and picture taken and wished me a pleasant stay.
I must say that I was not shaved that day, but other than that I would describe my appearance as "business casual", so no real need to think that there might actually be something skecthy about me.
This just makes me so mad. Those people have their jobs because of foreigners (and Americans coming back home, but without "us" there would be far less need) and we come to the US to spend our money there to keep the economy in a better state than it would be in without us. On my return flight the US citizens, of course, got treated courteously by the German immigration officers, no questions asked.
Caspritz78 From Germany, joined Aug 2007, 518 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 12670 times:
In this case you should remember his badge number and report this behavior to his superior. Immigration is not the place to make jokes about terrorist or drug dealers. Not by the passenger and definitely not by the officer himself.
Rscaife1682 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 337 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 12624 times:
Quoting Ushermittwoch (Thread starter): I must say that I was not shaved that day, but other than that I would describe my appearance as "business casual", so no real need to think that there might actually be something skecthy about me.
Not sure what this means....If it was a slow day what ever I say but I can see how some people might get upset.
TomFoolery From Austria, joined Jan 2004, 564 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 12608 times:
Since I often need to account for the dates of leaving and entering the country, I like to have my passport stamped, especially on trips starting in, or terminating in the US. This gives me the dates in a nice little stamp form.
So one Christmas day, I was transiting AMS, and I asked for a stamp. AMS was quite empty, especially for flights leaving europe. I woke up at 04:10, and wasnt firing on all cylinders yet.
Well the 2 officers in the booth were in a jolly mood for the morning, and I guess it was a slow morning, so in exchange for a stamp, they instructed me to sing a christmas song.
I was a bot confused, to say the least, but after some thought, I started singing, but only after the 2 officers agreeed to sing along. It was surreal, but a bit akward. I got my stamp. I just wish I was a bit more alert to enjoy it more.
Sure, some might see it as harassment, but I can see it for the good humor that it was. I try not to take too many things too seriously. Maybe breaking the rules is unprofessional, but what do say to the FA who goes up to First Class, and brings you (Joe Economy) a glass of nice Merlot, rather than the cabernet that nobody likes? Unprofessional? Its all relative.
PanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 10642 posts, RR: 32
Reply 5, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 12561 times:
EWR usually is the best and most efficient point of entry, far better than JFK. At least that is my personal experience. It usually helps to stay on the line until asked to step forward, say good morning or evening in a friendly voice and quickly respond to questions, should there be any.
Always bad is the experince coming back home, the German border police is simply not interested to strictly sort between EU and "other" citizens. I don't know why the have the signs up on the booth when a non EU citizen still can go to an EU booth and does not get turned back. instead holding up EU citizens clearance. This can be quite a hassle at the C section of FRA with only a few clearance points.
That is handled much better and in the interest of their own citizens in the US ort the UK.
MAS777 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 2939 posts, RR: 5
Reply 6, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 12510 times:
LGW - arriving back from a weekend in prague (i have been a UK resident since 1981) - i was quizzed with ridiculous questions on my return. I was even asked how to spell my occupation and when i laughed - was threatened with deportation. shocking... he was definitely having a BAD day...
LAX - last oct - one single 777 inbound from LHR to clear immigration at UA's own terminal. There were no other flights to clear but it took 1.5hrs before i got to the front of the queue. fellow passengers started fighting halfway through this wait due to the stress of missing connections - US Immigration couldn't give a cahoot and seemed to just slow down even more by closing all but 2 desks and making those involved go back to the end of the queue.
ItalianFlyer From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 1199 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 12446 times:
I was working crew member on a layover in YWG. Was a long five or six leg day and we were looking forward to making contact with our pillows. I presented my landing card and passport and the officer looked at the stamps and asked why I travel so much (HELLO...uniform?).
They cleared the other crew members but told me to remain. I was taken aside and my bags were searched, my computer & iPod were turned on and they poked around in file folders. I was given a deep pat down search. Twenty minutes later or so, they said I was free to enter...and next time do not forget to put the zip code on my landing card ....I was p**sed .
Nightmare #2....I was Purser on a NRT/GUM six day trip and one of my crewmembers was detained for TEN HOURS @ NRT. She is an Egyptian citizen and a smoker. Her offense was that she said she had declared two packs of unopened cigarettes with her when she actually had four.
I have always been creeped out by clearing immigration in the PRC @ PEK. They take out passports as we deplane and hold us in a room, then call us out one by one. It was a bit intimidating. I have not done a PEK in a few years, thank God....are they still doing that?
Mine was definately my arrival into MSP a couple of years ago on one of NW's final DC-10 flights, and I can really relate to your comment above! I was grilled about just about everything, the lady flatly refused to believe I was just visiting the US for a weekend for pleasure, and even though her superiors eventually gave me the OK, she was still muttering about me being some sort of spy or secret agent and did not believe me at all
Hywel From Hong Kong, joined Apr 2008, 880 posts, RR: 3
Reply 11, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 12294 times:
I had a pretty bad experience at ORD on my way to SEA last December (real shame you have to clear immigration at your first point of entry to the USA).
Having not shaved for a few days, carrying a ridiculously large laptop bag stuffed with random crap and looking like your average drug smuggling student, I was singled out and questioned for a good 30 min (and I nearly missed my connecting flight because of it!) I was the last to board my connecting flight and if I was 2 min later, they would have closed the gate
My answers didn't go down particularly well... I was telling the truth but everything I said sounded cheeky.
Them: How on earth do you expect to survive on $1 for 4 weeks here? (I was only carrying a $1 note left over from a trip in 2002!)
Me: Well I never use cash - I have my debit card and 2 credit cards on me. I'm just going to use those and find an ATM if the place doesn't accept card.
Them: How much money do you have in your checking account?
Me: What's a checking account?
Them: [blank stare] Don't try to be smart with us kid.
Me: [Innocently] Do you mean a current account? I think it might be called something different in the UK...
Them: The account your debit card is linked to...
Me: Oh right, well it's at least $2000, but I'm not sure of the exact amount. [I converted £ to $ thinking it would please them!]
Them: You use the Dollar in England now do you?
Them: Is your bank account US based?
Them: So how many POUNDS do you have in your checking account?
Me: I have at least £1000... I just said $2000 so you'd understand how much that was in American money...
Them: Don't do our job kid.
Them: Which states will you be visiting?
Me: Umm, let me try and remember... Washington obviously, umm Oregon, Arizona, Utah and Nevada.
Them: You aren't visiting Illinois huh?
Me: Don't think so no.
Them: [sarcastic face] You're in Illinois now kid.
Me: Well yes, but I'm not going to visit there... I'm just currently here for 2 hours changing plane. Besides, your question suggested future visits... which states WILL you be visiting.
Them: [pissed off big time] Cut the crap kid and stop the big mouth.
They're just 2 examples of an exchange between me and the anal retentive guy interrogating me! I hated being called kid at age 19... the worst part of the whole ordeal? The guy was Mexican
Just some of the questions I was asked:
a) What notebook are you carrying?
b) How can you afford a MacBook Pro as a student? (someone was jealous...)
c) Why didn't you fly to Seattle direct? (c'mon... this is just ridiculous)
d) So you're visiting your Uncle huh? What's he doing in the States? (none of their business)
then after explaining...
e) Why did he emigrate here? (I cannot give an answer for that! It wasn't me who emigrated!)
N6168E From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 51 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 12244 times:
My worst one was this past December in JFK after arriving from BKK with my wife and daughter. At Immigrations, the agent cleared them and told me that they had a problem with me. My name was on the watch list (It's a common Irish name) and that I would have to go with the officer . We went to a holding room that had 4 or 5 officers working at a desk. I was told that they would have to clear me through 7 or 8 different departments in Washington before I could be admitted. Meanwhile, my wife and daughter were stuck between Immigrations and Customs with our luggage. They were told that cell phones would be confiscated, so they could not contact the person waiting for us. After a 2+ hour wait, I was finally cleared.
Jgarrido From Guam, joined Mar 2007, 340 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 12186 times:
I had just flown 10 or so hours across the other pond (nrt to lax). Once we get on the ground we're told we need to wait about because our gate is still in use by a departing flight which has not pushed back yet. We aren't early, the other flight is late. We end up waiting about 30-40 mins. Once we parked at the gate we are informed immigration isn't open yet and we need to wait another 30-40 mins (why they weren't open after our initial 30 min delay IDK). Finally they start let us off the plane. I'm just getting to the front of the line of econ passengers mixing with the 1st classers exiting the cabin when a FA steps in front of me to let the entire upstairs of the 744 unload with me mere feet from freedom, (foiled again). Once I get off the plane and into the immigration line there's 1 agent actually helping people with about 4 taking their sweet time adjusting their chairs getting comfy before getting started. You'd think they were running though a check list to go flying or drive a semi-truck or something. Other then that everything went smoothly. Until I tried to get though security in next terminal for my American Eagle hop down to SAN with a NW boarding pass, but that's another story.
Even before reading everyone's stories I knew experience would be pretty mild in the scheme of things, but was pretty annoying at the time.
I know I'd be pretty agitated if what happened to the rest of you happened to me. I don't know how you keep your cool. It reminds of of a friend of mine while I was in the air force. His parents had emigrated from Vietnam and been naturalized before he was born. After 9/11 he was interrogated by OSI (the air force secret police) on what HE was doing in this country, why his parents left Vietnam, who his parents associated with in Vietnam etc.
OzarkD9S From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 5552 posts, RR: 20
Reply 14, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 12184 times:
I wouldn't call it "bad" but in '92, TWA LGW-STL I was not allowed to proceed through customs/immigration in STL for about 5 minutes while the officer verified that I wasn't someone wanted by Interpol, whom I apparently resembled. When I asked what the other person was wanted for all I could get out of him was "smuggling".
I wasn't stripped searched or anything, and they did get a photograph of my "twin" in a few minutes and the officer compared the photo with my face and after a few seconds said "Close, but no cigar, welcome home."
And that was that.
Wonder if they ever caught the guy?
Next Up: STL-OMA-STL. Just a day trip and one more state off my list.
Planenutz From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 12186 times:
Arriving at YVR (where I have many friends) from SFO. I was sent to secondary screening where the immigration agent wanted to know why I visited Canada so often. Searched all my baggage, and then wanted to know the names and contact information for the friends I was visiting. The agent(s) then left leaving me at the table with the contents of my baggage strewn about. After returning, they asked for me to empty my pockets. They searched through my wallet and found an old recpeit from when I payed a parking ticket fee in SF. They then proceeded to ask about a dozen questions pertaining to whether I was a criminal, had ever been in prison, or arrested, if I have court procedings against me in the USA, etc, etc. They then left again leaving me at the table. Upon their return, the one agent said I was suspicious, and that my precise reason(s) for coming to Canada could not be established. I said that I was only there for a long weekend, had planneed on doing some shopping, meeting with friends and having a good time. The two agents then looked at each other, and then said "exits to your left, bye".
PITIngres From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 1275 posts, RR: 13
Reply 16, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 12161 times:
Quoting ItalianFlyer (Reply 8): I have always been creeped out by clearing immigration in the PRC @ PEK. They take out passports as we deplane and hold us in a room, then call us out one by one. It was a bit intimidating. I have not done a PEK in a few years, thank God....are they still doing that?
I was on a trip to China last month -- the whole process seemed pretty normal. (EWR-PEK). So I guess they've stopped that business.
Most bad experiences seem to be one official who had piss instead of milk on his or her Cheerios at breakfast. My only really unpleasant experience was entering Barbados, which I've done problem-free many times before and since. Some young woman officer didn't like me for some unknown reason; first it was because I had filled my card out in the wrong color ink (which I had of course done many times before), then she didn't like my printing, then she wanted to argue about the exact address of my hotel and whether it was in Rockley or Hastings, and finally she wanted to see my return ticket. Well, it was an e-ticket, but she wasn't having any of it, so we had to send off to the airline gate agents to print up a receipt and return itinerary. It took a supervisor to get me through. Fortunately I only wasted about 3 hours.
I had one US official in EWR creep me out as I was returning from somewhere or other; he kept asking for directions to where I lived. My answer was pretty vague at first, because I assumed he didn't know the area. I would say "it's near XXX" and he would say "where near XXX?" Turns out that he used to live about 2 miles from me, but it might have been a little less spooky if he had said that up front.
Beaucaire From Syria, joined Sep 2003, 5252 posts, RR: 23
Reply 17, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days ago) and read 12117 times:
Twenty years ago going from Marseille to Algiers on a ferry-boat with my car ( I was staying in Algiers for 6 months..)
Customs were looking for Algerian Dinar's that everybody bought cheaply in France at 20% of the official value at the Algiers national Bank.
Of course I also had Dinars bought cheaply and had the instinct to throw them overboard (about 1200$ worth )
Everybody who had a car was requested to leave the ship in Algiers without luggage ,was strip-searched at the customs office and could retrieve his car 24 hours later-dismantled.
Those who were found with black Dinars in their possession ended up in jail.
So far for my hottest experience with Algerian customs ...
Yellowtail From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 6705 posts, RR: 2
Reply 18, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days ago) and read 12055 times:
My wife traveled thru MIA a few days before me, so my INS officer in MIA asked me "So I see your wife came through a few days ago..where was she going?" My reply "sir, that is an inappropriate question unrelated to whether or not I have the proper documentation to enter the USA" ....He also wanted to know all about my brotthers work visa. I kept replying "sir, also not related to my documentation elibility" Then he proceeded on to tell me that I could not have dual citizenship to which I replied "the country of my birth and citizenship all allow dual nationality, which is not the concern of the USA" he was grilling me.
This was after standing in the immigration line for 3 hours, then having Pablo Montero (a mexican singer) and his posse be allowed to jump in front of me.
Not a good day at MIA, but it usually never is.
When in doubt, hold on to your altitude. No-one has ever collided with the sky.
Rogerbcn From Andorra, joined Sep 2006, 1211 posts, RR: 18
Reply 20, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days ago) and read 11932 times:
AMS-SEA Dec. 27th 2006.
Arrived at SEA and the passport check was empty, I was the second one on line. They took my passport and asked me how long I'd be in the USA. I replied just overnight as the day after I would be catching the flight to YYC. He did not make any further comments and let me go but he made some sort of sign to the customs officer as I went down the escalator to pick up my luggage he was waiting for me and started asking questions.
We waited for the luggage and once in my hand he asked me to accompany him to one of the counters.
While another officer was emptying all my belongings from my suitcase, he kept asking questions like: 'Why didn't you fly straight to Canada?' 'Who paid for your trip?' 'Show me the tickets and credit cards' My tickets, and credit cards were taken away by a third officer. All my clothes plus the belongings of my wallet: money, business cards, credit cards were lying spread above the counter. Then, they asked me to follow them to a search room. I was put against the wall, legs apart and arms facing the wall; told not to raise my head as one of the officers consciously frisked me. It was a conscious search, let me tell you. Once outside I was told to wait when they came back with all my papers and cards they offered me some information about US customs on leaflet who informed me of all this was going on for my security and keeping America a safe country. It was not over yet. They asked me why I had so many frequent traveller's cards, and if the money I was carrying, about 300€, was Spanish money. Then they took me again to the search room and asked me to remove all my clothes.... asked me if I had a girlfriend in the US (yeah! the right moment for this question). Put my clothes on and I asked to go to the toilet, they escorted me there and asked not to flush it, at least they allowed me to close the door. After having a look inside all my belongings were given back to me and after an hour I was 'Welcomed into the US' by a senior officer to whom I told him I thought they had taken it a little too far.
Since then I have not transited, nor visited the US... and I plan not to as much as I can.
"At reise er at leve" H.C. Andersen (Travelling is Living)
11/01, LIS-EWR. I hadn't slept in 30 hrs and was harassed by a couple officers that thought I looked 'worrisome' as they put it. After they asked if I had ever flown before, I showed them a passport full of country stamps. I guess I can't blame them for doing their job, especially a few short weeks after 9/11.
RussianJet From Belgium, joined Jul 2007, 7794 posts, RR: 20
Reply 22, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 11836 times:
Quoting MAS777 (Reply 6): (i have been a UK resident since 1981) - i was quizzed with ridiculous questions on my return
What kind of 'ridiculous' questions were they? Although it sounds like he was out of order and had a teribble attitude, you should appreciate that just because you are a long-term resident doesn't mean you shouldn't ever be asked anything. Oddly enough, the bad guys seem to quite like pretending to be permanent residents, can you hazard a guess as to why? Also, residency still has rules and conditions attached and the officer is within his rights to ensure you abide by those.
✈ Every strike of the hammer is a blow against the enemy. ✈
Samalot1 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 14 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 11710 times:
I travel frequently to the US on business and for pleasure . ATL must be the worst entry point in the whole of the USA ! What I fail to understand is why the immigration authorities there are so woefully understaffed . They know how many international flights are scheduled on a particular day and how many passengers have boarded those flights . Why oh why does it always take 2 hours to clear immigration ?
I have had 2 run ins with immigration officers . Once in EWR , they couldnt understand the fact I was only going to be in the US for 24 hours , a comment was made that I sure must have a hot date ! I thought this was New York humour , I was escorted to a room where my passport , wallet , and airline ticket were confiscated . After 1 hour I was released with no explanation .
The second time was in ATL , I was questioned about the frequency of my visits to the US , explaining that the company I work for is headquartered in ATL . I made the mistake of responding to a question about when was my last visit by indicating that the immigration officer should look in his computer as all my comings and goings would be recorded there , wrong answer ! I was held for another 30 minutes being questioned about various topics ranging from which currency I received my salary to my US manager 's cell phone number .
What really bugs me is if the situation was reversed and the EU made US citizens have their finger prints taken and also be photographed , there would be an outcry .
I have however learnt my lesson and make sure that I know exactly the dates of my last trip to the US and answer to any questions that may be posed by the welcoming face of the United States .
Mark5388916 From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 377 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (7 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 11704 times:
Kind of the opposite of your horrible stories, I acturally have a good one. LAX-LHR-CDG on BA I was travelling with my marching band and what a surpirese, hardly any of our luggage made the transit at LHR... So we had everyone filling out BA Claim forms (all mine made it and I as the one who brought a change of clothes in my carry on...) we were stuck there for about 3 hours and our guides wouldnt let us exit baggage claim to find some restrooms! I knew there were bathrooms back past customs, so I went to the most senior looking guard on duty. Showed him my passport and boarding card from the LHR-CDG leg and explained my situation. Suprisingly enough he said go right ahead down the corrider to the restroom! On my way back he even stamped my passport because I forgot to ask for a stamp when I went through!
I Love ONT and SNA, the good So Cal Airports! URL Removed as required by mod
: I have a US passport and am an American Citizen, but I hold dual citizenship and go visit my mother who lives in Iran,we usually get together somewher
: It never ceases to amaze me the level of detail they have on you in there computer. BTW, my brother has triple nationality (USA, UK and BZE) and last
: Hi Mine are not as bad as some of the above. YVR Immigration Agent - Who are you meeting in Canada? Me - No one Immigration Agent - Were are you stayi
: My worst experience was in New Orleans. I was arriving in August of 1989 on an Aviateca flight from Guatemala City. The INS agents were very rude and
: So you have read my contribution to this thread already And I am exactly at the same place at the moment and everytime I except to see this immigrati
: Well...i went to SFO for the first time, i found out that SFO immigration officers were friendly and nice to me. They are far better than LAX Anyways
: May I ask, what year did this happen?
: The most unplesant experience I had was once waiting in an overcrowded immigration line at IAD in summer. Boy, was it warm. Those weird mobile lounges
: Flown internationally a good amount of time and I never had a problem. Flown to MAD,LGW,ZRH,FCO,SYD,AKL,NAS,EZE,TLV,CDG,STN,MIA,JFK,LAX,FLL. I have fl
: The worst by far must be CCS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
: My worst experiences have always been going through the UK while I'm using my Canadian passport. Not once have a had an enjoyable trip going through t
: Ditto that. I've only had bad experiences with CCS. When I arrived there were at least 6 other flights arriving in a short time. 3 desks at immigrati
: Come again?? Sounds more like Police or Customs. Immigration do not normally conduct embark controls. Sorry, but that all sounds like very routine, p
: Well done - a classic example of how to instantly fail what many police officers here refer to as the 'attitude test'. Were you looking for a hard ti
: Could have been customs, won't say for sure, but he was wearing the same (or at least similar) uniform as the agent downstairs in passport control. I
: Well, that's different of course, and if she was rude or arrogant or whatever then you have a right to feel aggrieved. To be fair, it did not seem ap
: I can see your point, but: a) My uncle has full American citizenship entitling him to live there (I had already explained that my relatives had emigr
: Guess I should have made it a bit more clearer. It sounds so much different in your head then it does when you type it .... Thats very true, but like
: I must be lucky. Home airport is JFK, and have never EVER either in the US or any other country had a bad experience with a customs or immigration off
: LHR - careful examination of all passport stamps on entry. questions about purpose of visit to those countries. asked many other questions not relatin
: My worst by far was at LHR. I came in after an overnight flight from JFK. The customs lady was surly beyond mention. I was traveling with my mom, and
: I fail to see how that is relevant and the guy was American. My worst experience was clearing in YYZ returning to the US. I was working crew. They im
: Maybe she was narked with you because you called her a 'customs lady' instead of an Immigration Officer, which she in fact was.
: My worst was entering the US at ATL. I had just returned home from a 14 month absence while working in Egypt. My bags were searched and 2 shisha pipes
: You can't legally bring in cuban cigars so they weren't stolen they were confiscated. You were lucky you were not fined.
: No, it's a county. County of New York, City of New York, State of New York.
: I think my worst would be at YVR after a flight from ORD. For some reason, the Canadian Customs forms didn't make it onto the plane so we all had to f
: It is wrong for any government to take from it's citizens their personal property by force. These cigars were for my use and posed no harm to anyone.