Trust me

Posted by Marlinee on Jul 3, 2016 in Travels |

I am a trusted traveler. Or at least I have a card that proves I have told the government everywhere I have ever worked or lived, which apparently somehow makes me less of a threat to the rest of the travelling public and those who toil in the airline industry. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to play out. In reality I am only trusted when it suits the whims of whomever decides what the security and border crossing rules are on any given day.

They have completely reconfigured the U.S. border procedure at Terminal 1 in Toronto (and maybe at Terminal 3 as well, but Terminal 3 is be avoided at all cost). Instead of going through immigration then security now you go through security before entering the immigration hall. This actually makes perfect sense. Wouldn’t you want people to be screened for contraband before allowing them over the virtual border? Thank goodness someone finally figured this out.

My magic card does get me into the special security line but that doesn’t mean I don’t need to take off my shoes and take out my laptop if it is a day I’m not being trusted. The rule of the day is posted on a sign with pictograms showing what we are supposed to do. This results in delays while those of us in line try interpret the instructions (does a coat with a red ‘x’ through it mean we are supposed to take our jackets off or leave them on?) so as not to run afoul of the disapproval of the security staff. The path of least resistance should be to just do what the rest of the public has to do but it’s not. If you take your shoes off on a day when shoes should be left on, your lack of compliance will be duly noted and probably result in a black mark on your permanent record.

So once through security, you enter the completely reconfigured U.S. immigration hall. The magic card allows you to go to the special kiosk that reads your passport and fingerprints and spits out an immigration slip with a very unflattering photo captured on the spot by the built-in camera. It used to be that all you had to do was grab the slip and whisk yourself to the guy that takes the slip. Now you and your slip wait in a line of fellow trusted travelers to talk to a person about why you should be allowed to enter the U.S. Aside from having to show your unflattering kiosk portrait to more than one person, this means an unspecified wait time to cross the border because most of us trusted travelers travel at the same time and of course completely defeats the purpose of being pre-cleared for immigration.

Maybe this is Donald Trump’s doing, since a virtual wall is a lot easier to build than a physical one. But I really don’t believe that interrogating trusted travelers or putting babies on no-fly lists is making the world safer for anyone. Just sayin’.

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