Monday, August 25, 2014
My daughter and I have traveled internationally quite a bit together. For me, it started back in the early 80's when she took a job in Paris. I went once a year for a month and we took short trips here and there so I was fortunate enough to see a lot of Europe. The last trip I took to Europe was in 2008 when I took my granddaughter to see Paris, London and Venice over her spring break. An interesting trip, as she was ill for more than half of it! But that's another story for another day.
Now my daughter works and lives in NYC and while she travels a great deal for her job, twice a year the two of us still do something fun together. Mostly it's the Caribbean as she loves to scuba dive, we both love beaches and warm weather and it's easy access from Miami.
No doubt you hear this from everyone my age....travel actually USED to be fun. It really did. Not anymore. You know as well as I do all the annoyances so I won't go into lost luggage, canceled flights, TSA searches (my hip replacement causes all sorts of problems there) and all the other crap you have to put up with now.
What this rant is about is U.S. Customs. Getting back INTO the country. Rather an ironic rant considering what's happening on our southern border, right? So many don't seem to have any problems coming into the U.S.
Well. I was born here, I'm pushing 80, do not have a criminal record and have traveled a lot. The only problem with customs I ever had was many years ago I kept getting tagged because a felon happened to be using the same name (not the same passport number) so there was a flag on my name....she was way younger and one glance at my passport cleared up any problems, but it continued, so eventually I called and it was finally cleared up.
Last year Miami instituted a new process in customs...kiosks. You press your passport in a machine, it scans, takes your photo and shoots out a paper with the info and your photo on it. The first year it was speedy and the only problem was my piece of paper had a big X on it above my photo. That meant I had to wait in the regular passport check line....we're talking LONG LINE here. So fine.....I waited (my daughter didn't have the X and she had to wait for me.), was passed and all was well.
Last week we were in Miami customs again. There are more kiosks now, but unfortunately there are also lines and the wait is nearly as long for a kiosk as the old passport lines. We finally got to one, the paper spits out and guess which of us has an X? So I had to wait in another long line to go through the old fashioned way.This time I decided to ask the agent: why does this keep happening to me? You won't believe his answer: I have a common name. Call me dumbfounded. Thanks Mom and Dad.
Later, we talked about it. My daughter's name is nearly as common as mine, but she passes on through. We decided it was because she applied for the Global Entry Pass. As yet, she has NOT gone for the interview, keeps putting it off because she has to go to JFK in NYC which is a pain, but still, merely applying for this and passing the first stages must count for something as she never gets stopped and always is prechecked.
I went to the site, looked at the info and aside from a detailed form, it's really pricey. $229!
You can also apply for TSA Precheck which is somewhat cheaper ($209), but you still have to go for an interview.
I don't know....is it worth ridding myself of this annoyance for two or three times a year?