Wednesday, June 18, 2014



I recently made an international trip.

My luggage and I were thoroughly checked before boarding my flight from the States.

When I arrived at my European transfer point I had to run from international arrival terminal to international departure terminal.

Do not pass GO.

Do not leave a controlled area,

When I get to the international departure area I once again must undergo the inspection process.

Mind, it's NOT the same process I went through in the States. Nor is it the same as in another European county I recently passed through.

It's - at best - a guessing game. Take the computer out of the bag or not.

Remove shoes or not..

Remove belt or not.

Put the book in the tray.

Pictorial signs in advance of the check point?


So you get to the check point and wait -or cause others to wait -while you comply with the local requirements. As an American I speak English although the Brits might disagree.

I don't have a command of any other language, certainly not any European language (nor Oriental, either, if truth be told).

I feel sorry for someone who speaks neither the local language and lacks "survival level" English.

When I was taking a physical for a non-U.S. army the guy in front of me - a newcomer to the country - didn't know the words the examiner told the guy ("Take a deep breath and hold it" for a chest x-ray). The examiner became frustrated and reacted, sadly, accordingly. I mimed the action for the guy, the examiner got the picture, and the line moved on . . . after only a few minutes' delay. Multiply that by the number of passengers on a 7x7, and the delay can be substantial - especially when you have a connecting flight ready to board.

A few - a very few - airports have (or had) special areas where international travelers are segregated.

They get off their inbound flight and follow the arrows and pictographs to an international holding area. Their arriving flight and their departing flight regardless of carrier have jet ways connected to the international area.

I have seen - in Amsterdam - Israel's El Al next to Emirates, Lebanese, and Saudi aircraft. The Dutch won't tolerate bad behavior so passengers wait politely.

It seems to me a lot more efficient and cost effective to follow the Dutch approach to airport design.

Passengers exit their flight and are immediately routed either to (a) the international holding area or (b) into the general terminal area (to collect luggage, meet transportation, etc.).

It ALSO would be nice if - as is done all too infrequently - airlines would announce flights in the local language (e.g., Spanish), an international language (hopefully English), and in the airline's home language (e.g., Polish). I heard Russian in Barcelona and Chinese in Detroit, but these two airports may be the exceptions to the rule. You won't hear Italian or Polish at Lod, Israel's primary international airport. (In Miami Spanish is the local language; English also can be heard.)

Thanks to terrorists, international travel - especially air travel - has become a pain in the privacy and a challenge for the infrequent traveler to strange airports. Interesting, albeit challenging.

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