I’m presently taking my dad on a surprise round the world trip to celebrate his “round” birthday. Even now the trip remains a surprise, as he’s just finding out what we’re doing and where we’re going on a day-by-day basis.
Here are the previous posts about the trip:
- Planning My Dad’s Big Birthday Trip
- Update On My Dad’s Big Birthday Trip: A380s Around The World!
- Singapore Airlines Schedule Change: A380 Downgrade
- A Few More Months Till My Dad’s Big Trip
- How Should My Dad Document Our Round The World Trip?
- AND WE’RE OFF! Dad’s Surprise Round The World Birthday Trip Is Underway
- The Best Emirates Flight? Ever?
- Thanks Emirates For Leaving My Dad Speechless (Again)!
- My Dad Guesses Our Next Destination!
- Dad Finds Out Our Next Destination
- Singing Happy Birthday On An Airplane!
- Park Hyatt Sydney — Wow, Wow, Wow!
- Censored: The Picture Dad Doesn’t Want You To See
- Qantas A380 First Class Sydney To Los Angeles
Two second summary: answer all the immigration officer’s questions, even if he’s being an ass.
On Wednesday my dad and I flew from Sydney to Los Angeles in Qantas first class. My dad has a German passport, while I have both a German and US passport (though of course I use my US passport with Global Entry when entering the US).
As we deplaned I explained to my dad that he’d have to go through separate lines, and that I’d wait for him at the baggage claim belt.
As we entered the immigration hall I saw that there was virtually no queue, so figured he’d be out in no time. Our checked bags arrived (yes, at this point in our trip we were checking bags), though there was still no sign of my dad.
My dad can be pretty clumsy sometimes, so I figured maybe he had exited immigration or something. But I just kept waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
After an hour a Qantas representative came up to me.
“Are you waiting on someone?”
“Yes, my dad. I’m not sure if the immigration queues are really long, or if he accidentally already passed through customs.”
“Your dad actually asked me to tell you he’s in secondary. You can have a seat over there and then you should be able to see him when he comes out.”
I kept waiting and waiting. At this point one other lady joined me — her husband had a Green Card, and they had been out of the country for 14 months. That might explain why he got secondary. But I still didn’t get why my dad got a secondary screening.
After about 90 minutes my dad emerged and explained that the initial immigration officer was a complete ass. Apparently as my dad approached the podium he “threw” his passport on the counter, as a way to express excitement. My dad tends to get pretty excited and was happy to be home, so “threw” the passport down as a way to express enthusiasm, which was apparently accompanied by a chipper greeting to the immigration officer. Of course perception is reality, and I guess that’s not how it was perceived.
My dad said that the conversation went something like this (with the officer supposedly speaking in an aggressive manner):
“Why are you throwing your passport at me?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. I’m just off a long flight and excited to be home.”
“Don’t do that again.”
Apparently he then questioned him for 10 minutes.
“So how long were you in the UAE for?”
“Just two or three days.”
“Well which one is it, huh? Two or three days?”
“You can look at the passport stamps and figure it out.”
My dad’s confusion was well founded, given the time flights arrive and depart the UAE. 😉
Anyway, clearly my dad was trying to be friendly when he approached the officer, though that wasn’t interpreted correctly. But (stupidly) once my dad was unhappy with how the officer was questioning him, he made it known.
Now, I don’t know whether the officer was using a behavior detection technique or was just genuinely an ass (either is entirely plausible), but the moral of the story is to just cooperate and answer all questions without being a smartass, no matter how rude the officer is… well, unless you want to keep your son waiting in the arrivals hall for well over an hour. 😉