Travel Rant Number 4: Immigration Queues

by Johnny Ward

Ok, I’ve started to rant a bit over the last month, so i thought I’d give it an actual section on my blog! That way I don’t seem like a grumpy, perpetually p*ssed off backpacker (right?!). It’s called ‘Tuesday’s Travel Rant’ and I know it’s wednesday but i spent Tuesday (yesterday) with no internet, trying to prevent my mum getting beaten up by a wild street hooker in Pattaya in the middle of the afternoon (loooong story), so here it is one day late….

 

I know I know, I should be happy I have the opportunity to travel so much, yadda yadda yadda. Ok fair enough, but with all my travels comes a barrage of frustration! Next up on my list is immigration queues. I fly pretty often and this thing baffles me every bloody time.

Long immigration queues

Long immigration queues are a nightmare!

 

So I fill in my arrival or departure card and head over to immigration. These international hubs (Frankfurt, LAX, Bangkok, Tokyo etc), they know how much daily traffic they get, they know exactly the number of people who will be passing through their doors every day so please, please, please tell me why then do I have to sometimes wait over an hour to get stamped in/out of the country, queuing in lines 100 people deep!?

 

Ok, Mr Aiport Manager – you seem to know that there are gonna be a lot of people coming through your immigration counters today. You certainly have built enough immigration desks, they stretch all the way to the end of the room. Well done. Yet never once (literally not once) have I seen all the counters staffed. You seem to prefer to use 50% of the counters as some sort of post-ironic joke, to tease me, saying “we could sort these queues out much faster, but we’re just choosing not to”. Well Mr Airport Manager you got me, you win but can we please put an end to the joke. Staff all the desks and cheer us all up, you’re killing me here. This is an official request – I’ll be flying again next month, I trust all the appropriate changes will be made. Thanks.

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11 thoughts on “Travel Rant Number 4: Immigration Queues

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  3. Maura

    You can also add London to the list of hubs. And also the fact that the desks for local passports, of any given country, are always well staffed, and the queues there relatively minimal! This rant could go on and on!

    Reply
  4. Tinman

    Yes, the lines are long and the wait is sometime unbearable. I am also frustrated at the airport managers and asked the same questions. What i can come up with is that, even though the airport knows that certain amount of travelers will be passing through, they cannot staff every counters. Here is why, most staff are full time staff and they cannot just come into work for “rush” hours. If they are there, they are going to be working at least 8 to 10 hrs. So, to staff every counters for 8 hrs a day will cost the airport, a lot of $. So, they only staff limited amount of people. Don’t get me wrong, i hate waiting in line but i think there is the business side that we do not know.

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    1. Johnny Post author

      although you’re probably right mate, when i’m stuck in a queue off 100+ people, in an international airport where the average salary is around $3-5 per hour i think they could probably squeeze a few more counter operators in!

      Reply
  5. Pete

    I hear you. I can’t stand immigration cues either, especially when you are in-transit?!?!?! On one of our recent trips we had to clear US immigration when we just had a 40 minute connection (with the same airline!). Why I ask, when we will just be in your airport for less than 1 hour. Grrrrrr.

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  7. Nomadic Samuel

    Immigration lines are one of the biggest sources of frustration for me as well when I travel. The one thing I do now though is just pull out my ipod touch and study Korean or watch some video clips. It doesn’t make the line going any faster but it at least helps me stay a little more sane :P

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