I know, I won't get any sympathy (nor do I expect it!) but, dear me, there must be a better way of processing entry to a country than that which we experienced in Miami, yesterday. After what must surely rank as one of the longest walks from plane to terminal, there was the most enormous queue in the immigration hall, snaking up and down through those tensioned barriers. At the front was a bad tempered, shouty woman directing people to one of more than thirty passport check desks. We were amongst the first from our flight to reach this stage and yet still needed almost an hour of shuffling along, up and down, before we could be barked at with instructions for the fingerprint machine and be welcomed to America (not that those words we uttered). Whist we waited, the queue became longer and longer because people were arriving so much more quickly than they could process them.
With a sigh of relief, we made our way to carousel six, where all the luggage from our flight had already been offloaded and placed on the floor next to one of a dozen conveyor belts. A 747 carries a lot of luggage, for sure, and seeing it laid out like that confirms that many suitcases are pretty similar. Heaven help anyone with an anonymous black bag, because after the turmoil of the arrivals hall, believe me, people were not hanging around at this stage of the process. They had already seen - and a navigated their way through - further queues to reach the massed collection of luggage that was piled on the floor. The baggage hall was noisy, filled with hundreds - thousands, maybe - of people searching for their stuff, finding their way and having collected it all, of deciding which queue to join. Crying children? Oh yes. Tired and cranky adults? Plenty of them, too. In the midst of it all, we came across a small, quiet and bewildered woman, disoriented after a long flight through many time zones, looking for her husband, who had gone off looking for their things. I hope they both found what they were looking for!
I know that America doesn't have the exclusive rights to long queues at immigration. Heathrow can be similarly challenged at times. But as planes get bigger and more of us are travelling; as we confirm and re confirm our travel arrangements and personal details ahead of time, surely there must be a better way? Why not have individual immigration desks for each flight arrival, so that the lists of passengers can be checked against the flight muster (and the details the airline has recorded already?) Those long corridors would be better - cooler - places to wait, wouldn't they?
All I can say after yesterday's experience -probably the worst we've endured - is that it's a good job we love to travel and are able to put such things to the back of our minds and get on with the fun bits. They began the minute we saw Allan and Jane there on "the other side"!