Entry into USA

Discussion in 'Visas, Immigration & Customs' started by icemann, Jun 28, 2003.

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  1. icemann

    icemann Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    French's Forest, NSW
    I don't know how others have found it, but I have the following common findings from my trips to the USA :-

    After 9-11, entering the USA is now like trying to enter a fortress. If you hadn't had enough at (in)security, get ready to get searched at the gate too. Even flying DOM is a pain. I hope oz never ever ends up like this. oz security is FAR more civilised (and efficient) than this.

    You get 'wanded' (metal detector) after walking through the stand up one, be ready to remove your shoes and get your feet wanded. If the TSA go and search your bag (you'll know if you're lucky, because you'll get SSSS on your boarding pass), leave it unlocked and DON'T go touching it, they get rather upset :) Mine asked me what a copy of Pl@yboy was doing there, so I told her it was the inflight magazine ;)

    Leave the checked baggage unlocked so the TSA can go and check that you're not carrying any naughty things in it :) Or you'll end up with broken samsonite combination locks. :(

    Be ready to show the US immigration a return or onward plane ticket, and state why you're there. They seem to be paranoid that you'll stay there as an illegal immigrant.

    AA lounges are good, but IMHO, QF lounges have the edge. But AA lounges have cocktails. The showers are o.k. too, but in LAX DOM, it took 1 hour at 1200 to get 15 minutes. So pass the cocktails.

    And don't expect the priority baggage handling to have any effect. According to my last flight, it was supposed to come in on number 5, but the priority was mixed with the normal luggage and EVERYTHING went everywhere, and DIDN'T come off first.

  2. redrat

    redrat Member

    Apr 26, 2003
    Jeez Icemann I thought all the talk on FT was a little overdone about the luggage locks having to be left unlocked and was for airports other than LAX.
    Are we to believe that our luggage is now safe from pilferers because of the security checks the TSA has on its own members for employment?
    I think the smartly packed carry-on(s) has to be the best way to travel through the USA now. That is unless your checked luggage is packed with the uninteresting so that no-one wants to steal it.
    Unfortunately for me, I usually pack all the spare heavy stuff into the checked luggage. :(
  3. icemann

    icemann Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    French's Forest, NSW
    Hi Redrat,

    Well, I didn't seem to have any problem when I went MEL-LAX (and actually locked my bags with Samsonite combination locks). They didn't break them, but I wonder how they managed to guess the combination from 9999 possible ones ?

    You also get a little flyer inside it (I still have mine as a souvenir) from the TSA, and it says "As part of this process (baggage inspection) some bags are opened and physically inspected. Your bag was among those selected for physical inspection"

    Lucky me. It was probably all the boxes containing my tie clips / belts / ties that they looked at. The x-ray machines are probably fitted with Hugo Boss detectors :D

    "During the inspection, your bag and it's contents may have been searched for prohibited items. At the completion of the inspection, the contents were returned to your bag, which was then resealed."

    Yes. It was. With CABLE TIES ! :roll:

    "If the TSA screener was unable to open your bag for inspection because it was locked, the screener may have been forced to break the locks on your bag. TSA sincerely regrets having to do this, and has taken care to reseal your bag upon completion of inspection. However, TSA is not liable for damage to your locks resulting from this necessary security precaution." (verbatim from the flyer that I got from LAX-CHI-ALB)


    I'm not being pessimistic, but I'm not sure if we can trust the TSA not to go and steal things. I mean, a tie clip, a money clip, something small is easy to secrete in your pockets.

    I agree in that the smartly packed (and make it easily accessible, in case you get the fateful SSSS on your boarding pass) carry on is the best way to go. I got SSSS on my boarding pass, and had to be wanded down (even though I'm Caucasian, white and blonde haired). Virtually anyone who resembled Middle-Eastern or Indian appearance was pulled in straight away into the same line.

    Anything REMOTELY valuable goes into the carry on. I try not to put expensive things in the check-in, unless it is absolutely necessary.
  4. dajop

    dajop Senior Member

    Jul 1, 2002
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    Nothing new about that. Every bit of advice I've ever read suggest the same thing, and that well and truly pre-dates the current increased security
  5. Rossmurdoch

    Rossmurdoch Junior Member

    Oct 11, 2002
    Last time I was in the US (Feb 03) I found the security far more thorough (read paranoid) in LAX than JFK
  6. Gary Steiger

    Gary Steiger Junior Member

    Jul 17, 2003
    California, USA
    TSA Website

    The TSA web site is at http://www.tsa.gov/public/ . It provides good advice on how to speed up the process.

    Re, shoes: Lately its a good idea to just take them off and put them through the x-ray. Could save you a full body search. I heard a TSA guy actually thank a patron for doing this.

    Re: luggage locks. Don't use them. They might get cut off. Most are useless to prevent theft, anyway. Any 8 year old could pick them. Instead, to keep your luggage from opening inadvertently, use those plastic security ties that don't come off without cutting them. Then be sure you have the means of cutting them when you arrive. (And don't carry those means on your carry on, of course. Cutty things are a no no. Put them in the one pocket on your checked luggage that isn't secured by one of the ties.)

    Of course you should not check valuables. Yes, there has been some theft by TSA employees, and the TSA is concerned and increasing security observation of TSA people handling checked luggage. But the theft risk by security employees or the airlines exists in any airport in the world. So protect yourself by not checking valuables.

    Yes, we Americans are paranoid about people hijacking airplanes. We had a few people killed about two years ago by planes flying into buildings, remember? Hopefully you can keep your government from pissing people off so much that they would do such a thing to you.
  7. redrat

    redrat Member

    Apr 26, 2003
    Re: TSA Website

    Gary, we as the flying public have no trouble with our memory. It's just that the USA went from the "security joke" to the "security nightmare". Other countries already had a semblance of security that tended to reassure most of us in the industry. However, travelling the US by air was a joke pre-911.
    Everywhere around here flying internationally has only had to make a few changes when not travelling to the US but when you see the big screens and barricades and extra x-ray machines, you don't have to look at the gate to know it's a flight to the USA. :cry:
  8. straitman


    Apr 27, 2003
    SE Oz (Sale)
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    Like everywhere else, if you treat the security staff like people and not just idiots you'll do alright. I have one pair of shoes that always sets off the scanners. Obvious answer -- don't wear them or take them off prior to going through security.

    Remember the security people are doing the maximum job for minimum pay and with minimum training and are expected to appease all types of people including those who have been travelling for quite a while and are tired and grumpy. Largely they do a GREAT job :idea:

    Let's all be friendly and co operative for them. It will, and does make a difference :D
  9. thadocta

    thadocta Active Member

    I sort of agree and disagree - when I am wearing my Yakka! boots (steel capped) I always take them off before going through security, as I *know* it will set off the alarm. Things like this are sensible, it pre-empts what will happen.

    I won't take off kmy joggers though unless told to, and it hasn't happened yet.

    As far as the situation goes in the US, I would have to agree that the situation prior to 11/9 was an absolute joke - people were able to get things onto aircraft which they never would have been able to do in Australia, most Asian cities or in Europe. The result was what we saw on 11/9.

    The reaction of the US though was to go extremely overboard.

    All they had to do was to drag their security arrangements up to what the rest of the world as already doing, and the situation would have been sweet.

    But they chose not to do this, they went overbopard and created a situation which causes the maximum amount of inconvenience for the minimum gain.

    I can understand how they could be paranoid, but they really should have looked at "Worlds Best Practice" and merely copied it. The situation in the US at the moment is far short of it.

  10. straitman


    Apr 27, 2003
    SE Oz (Sale)
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    As was demonstrated in the last week (or so) where someone managed to not only get on the wrong flight BUT the wrong flight AND the wrong airline. -- QANTAS instead of CATHAY I believe :!:
  11. megaclay

    megaclay Newbie

    Aug 22, 2003
    New York, New York
    Entry into US

    I really think it's small inconvenience to have to suffer if you consiuder whats at stake.

    OK taking off your shoes is kind of a pain but I'd rather take the....say extra 40 seconds to do this than worry that I'm sitting there with a guy that has enough explosive in his shoe to kill everybody on the plane.

    C'mon people I think there are bigger things to worry about than extra security at the airport. I personally think that Australia should be more like this....or should we wait until somebody flies a plane into a building first....
  12. redrat

    redrat Member

    Apr 26, 2003
    ... and how are they going to get through the door? Even when that idiot tried to kill the FA's with the wooden stakes the door to the flightdeck was locked.
    It looks like terrorists are using trucks these days instead of aircraft anyway.
    Look, it's just a case of wearing the right gear.
    ie. slip on shoes, etc. Those of us flying everyday are used to it.
  13. straitman


    Apr 27, 2003
    SE Oz (Sale)
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    That's right. If you know that your shoes are going to be a problem the choice is don't wear that particular pair OR accept that you'll have to take them off. I have one pair that I just don't bother to wear on board any more as it's just not worth the hastle to me.

  14. thadocta

    thadocta Active Member

    Re: Entry into US

    The thing is that Australia, and most SE Asian ports, and most European ports, were all extremely secure before 11/9, and they managed this without inconveniencing passengers. We manage this even now, still without inconveniencing passengers.

    The United States, on the other hand, has done its usual trick of going totally overboard. "Oh dear, we have a rat in the house, let's explode a thermonuclear device over the entire continent, that will surely kill that rat."

    Most countries - Australia amongst them - have managed to get the security just right. The United States has gone overboard like it typically does. There are other areas where the US has gone overboard that I know of (totally unrelated to travel) where this is typified.

    A pity the US can't look at "Worlds Best Practice" and decide to copy it. Of course, this would show the US system to be inadequate, and we can't have that, can we????

    (Who fully expects to be the subject of TSA scrutiny the next time he is in the US)
  15. arun

    arun Member

    Sep 5, 2002
    The following is from AA newsletter. I believe all Australian passports are machine readable and the new rules do not affect us. Am I correct?

    New Documentation Rules For Travel To/Through U.S.

    The following information will provide information regarding the suspension of the Transit Without Visa (TWOV) program, as well as new requirements for the Visa Waiver program.

    Transit Without Visa (TWOV) Program Suspension
    The Department of Homeland Security has suspended the Transit Without Visa (TWOV) program. The following new rules are effective August 2, 2003, as of 11:00 a.m. U.S. Eastern time. The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will no longer permit visitors to transit the United States for travel to a foreign destination without a visa, unless another valid visa exception applies.

    In order to accommodate passengers with immediate travel plans and passengers traveling on the return portion of their trip, CBP will permit passengers to transit the United States in the following cases:
    Passengers with tickets purchased on or before July 24, 2003.
    For TWOV passengers whose inbound flights are scheduled to depart prior to 12:01a.m U.S. Eastern time, Tuesday August 5, 2003, CBP will allow persons presented as TWOV to transit the United States on the initial portion of their trip provided that the passenger's ticket was purchased on or before July 24, 2003.

    Returning TWOV Passengers
    For TWOV passengers whose inbound flights are scheduled to depart prior to 11:01a.m U.S. Eastern time, August 9, 2003, CBP will allow passengers who previously transited the United States under the TWOV program who are traveling on the return portion of their roundtrip ticket to transit the United States.
    If you are traveling on or after August 9, 2003, you may be given a full refund for any unused portion of your ticket back to the original form of payment or you may begin the process for application for a US visa. Currently, international-to-international passengers on American Airlines flights who are U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, participants in the Visa Waiver Program (see Visa Waiver Program below), Canadians and passengers in possession of valid visas that authorize transit through the United States, must clear Customs and Border Protection upon arrival in the United States.

    Visa Waiver Program
    American Airlines is advising passengers traveling to the United States that the U.S. State Department will require tighter passport controls that have been designed to increase security.

    Effective Oct. 1, all citizens from 27 countries participating in a new visa waiver program must present a machine-readable passport upon arrival at their port of entry into the United States when entering under the visa waiver program. The machine-readable passports have coded data on the photo page, and all participating countries now are issuing the new type of passport.

    Also effective with the new policy, passengers without machine-readable passports no longer will be able to take advantage of the visa waiver program. Nationals of a visa waiver-eligible country who do not yet have a machine-readable passport should either obtain one or apply for a visa from the U.S. Consulate in their country of residence or country of nationality prior to travel. In addition, all children, including babies, must have their own machine-readable passport and can no longer be included on one of their parents' passports for entry into the United States under the visa waiver program.

    Countries participating in the visa waiver program include:

    Finland France
    Liechtenstein Luxembourg
    New Zealand
    San Marino Singapore
    United Kingdom
  16. icemann

    icemann Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    French's Forest, NSW
    That would appear so.

    Well, I've got two chances because I hold both a GB and Aus passport, and my fiancee is HK Chinese, so she's still got the GB passport too :)
  17. Globalflyer

    Globalflyer Newbie

    Oct 18, 2003
    Entry into the USA

    I do SYD/LAX about 5 times a year. I have an I- Pass card but the machines rarely work. :cry: Has anyone else experienced this :?:
  18. QF WP


    Jun 20, 2002
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    globalflyer, haven't had your problem, but then again I only go to USA once a year. Off again 27 Dec, so will see whether my Passport works (as well as Mrs LW's)
  19. thadocta

    thadocta Active Member

    Lindsay, I think you are confusing an I-Pass with a passport.

  20. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
    Sunshine Coast
    4 trips to usa in last 18 months-2 into lax,2 into jfk.Not 1 problem on arrival-usually in hire car in 1 hour.
    Leaving is a different story.It just takes time.I now always take my shoes,belt & watch off.If you dont set the detector off it is definitely a lot easier.Setting it off at jfk 12 months ago lead to 3 searches before getting on plane.Domestically though have had absolutely no problems at orlando,chicago and philadelphia-here i checked in and was at the lounge in 10 minutes even though morning rush period.Domestically I have always had e-tickets booked through AA web-site.You put tickets on hold and arrange payments through AA office in sydney.Doing this from the sunshine coast has not been a problem-in fact they have often saved me money-definitely better than the service from QF.
    Personally I think the US security screening is more for show than genuine security.I have witnessed X-ray screening of checked luggage where no one is watching the screen as bags go through.I am more worried at the possibility of something being smuggled on the plane eg by a baggage handler belonging to aterrorist organisation.That would never happen in australia would it?

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