Hello ♫ I love you ♫ won't you tell me your name......in about two hours

Why...

Are airports so keen to look in my shoes and up my nostrils in the name of security, yet seem blissfully unaware how many customers (please note that word) who all arrive at the same time and are faced with only a couple of immigration officers.  On far too many occasions I have stood in a queue of several hundred people as immigration kiosks are as empty as a bookie's stand at the end of a race day. After an hour or so a few turn up, ambling along looking with a mixture or surprise and contempt at this sea of humanity that has been made to wait. Why are plane loads of people arriving all at roughly the same time from Australia, Nigeria, Japan and Canada a surprise to the airport immigration staff? I assume air traffic control were aware they were coming. Likewise, the men who get the gangways ready, or even the drivers of those electric carts who collect the infirm or infamous. Every airline sends a manifest with the list of passengers to the arriving airport so the receiving immigration and custom officials can chose at leisure whose cavity they want to probe. It's an utter farce that after 15 hours on a flight you then have to wait two hours to get through immigration....even worse when you are returning to your own country. If those responsible cannot organise a smooth well-staffed immigration welcome how can airports and government agencies convince me they ensure my safety going out?

...and another thing

Some airports manage to have signs up everywhere saying not to use your phone whilst in this endless queue. Well pray, how do we inform those waiting for us outside as we inch along, this bit of the journey could take longer than the actual flight? Other signs warn that ill temper will not be tolerated and indeed perpetrators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Well how about not exasperating people to breaking point that they don’t end up a tad stroppy? Get Border Control’s act together and remember the overwhelming majority of these people are guests to your country where they will spend money. This incompetence is their first impression.

...and another thing

Is it too much trouble to keep an eye on the dozens of cameras and monitors that report human flow? How about simply having a hot line phone in the arrival hall directly connected to whatever waiting room these people all lurk in. Arriving passengers could pick it up and ask them to come down.

On the odd occasion my plane has not landed at a gate an entire time zone away from the actual border control desk and no one is waiting; please don’t berate me for ducking under the tape or going around the zigzag lines.

...and another thing

Recently my wife stood in a queue at Terminal 4 where a woman on a flight from Nigeria had been questioned about FGM (female genital mutilation) by immigration staff before she and her daughter were even allowed into the arrival hall. This poor woman was not only in shock at being asked such a thing by a complete stranger, but assured my wife that no one would ever answer anything other than they were perfectly fine. You think on top of the shock that they would submit to the embarrassment of examination? Seriously can someone give me the name of the clown who thought that this is a good policy?

This malady of lack of common sense infects every London airport to most in the United States as well as Japan, Australia, Africa and South America. So airports… forget about all your welcome signs and actually be welcoming.

...and another thing

To those who work well in Border Control stop your colleagues dragging you good guys down. A few airport staff have interpreted the shield they have been given to protect us as a sword with which to poke us.

When the good ones say “Welcome back, Sir,” it lifts my spirit. More people should try it. Border Control might miss the odd dope smuggler but at least he or she will make a few weary travellers a bit happier.

No one takes responsibility and customer relations at airports is as alien a concept as being tucked in at night with coca and cookies by your drill sergeant.

OK rant over, next week back to the humour! Unless of course I get stopped because of this at customs or Immigration!

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  1. Jeff says:

    Mark and Kirsten — All the best on your move. You may escape the rain but think I would take that over the heat. Once when the opportunity came to possibly move to San Antonio, TX and I found out they had 90 days of over 90 degree Fahenheight temperatures I thanked my lucky stars that didn’t come to pass. Norene might have liked it but I find it depressing. Enjoy greatly your waxing elegantly and amusingly over the most mundane of things. I admire greatly your ability to come up with clever things to say about these matters. Jeff