Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Getting There is Half the Fun

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  • Peter Darlington, in reply to Paul Brown,

    LAX provided one of our worst experiences of years of traveling with our daughter.

    Our Deputy Mayor had a terrible experience coming through LAX with his family a few years ago. His 15 year old son's name came up on the security screen as a "person of interest". He was carted off with his son while his partner and other kids looked on, they were thrown into the potential terrorists room and told to sit down and shut up and it was made very clear that they weren't leaving that room until the US govt was absolutely certain it was safe to let them out. They had a flight 2 1/2 hrs later and Tim wasn't allowed to speak to officials or even move off the seat he was on. His poor kid was in an absolute panic, they were basically treated as likely criminals.

    With about 30 minutes to spare someone deemed it safe enough to allow them to move on but not without the odd comment that had Tim seriously doubting that his son was ever going to be able to transit through the US easily again.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Tamara,

    This made me laugh so much, thanks David.

    My own little sorry tale - second leg of a trip to Paris with out 16 month old involved her having a sinus infection (which we didn't know about at the time). I had to hold her standing up for 7 hours from Singapore to Paris to prevent her screaming. It had to be me and it had to be standing. No doubt the worst experience of my life. Childbirth was easier.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 115 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Swain, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    the new 5 (really 4.5) year [passports]

    Grrrrrrrrrr!

    Japan • Since Apr 2013 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    grr indeed someone saw that as a profit centre

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Konrad Kurta, in reply to Sacha,

    Aren't planes computer-controlled to a large degree? I would have thought that would be the worst place for them.

    South Korea • Since Dec 2012 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Konrad Kurta,

    That was the point: they'd be personally motivated to ensure the computers would work correctly.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1938 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    One of the downsides of having no exit immigration formalities has been that historically the US got it wrong a lot – that green thing stapled in your passport that the airport checkin people would take from you was supposed to do it – but the airlines apparently sometimes lost them – without a stamp in your passport you have no proof that you’d actually left (and NZ don’t stamp NZ passports when you get home) – there’s way too many stories of people being detained as they arrived in the US in transit or for a while because the US records say they’re still there as over stayers – for about 6 months they replaced that system with kiosks and now I guess they figure they’re watching you way too well to miss you leaving. If you do leave the US over a land border DO make sure you get your passport stamped, don’t just speed through that closed border checkpoint at 2am

    Oh, the I94. They just turned that into an electronic record a couple of months ago, but until that point they certainly hadn't got any better with them - I got a severe telling-off last year for not having made sure mine was taken away before I left the US. We'd been checked in in Boston by a very distracted lady who perhaps forgot to take them because we weren't getting directly on an international flight; my pleading with various other people (airline crews, boarding staff for our flight to NZ in SFO) to take them was met with the advice that it didn't matter and I could keep it. It did, of course, matter. Only the US would decide it's each traveller's personal responsibility to make sure the US government knows they've left the country.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    LAX does suck. I made a point since I heard that the US fingerprints everyone that I will not travel through that continent at all until the come to their senses. Consequently, I discovered a worse airport. Hanoi has no transit area at all. Arriving there without a visa is instantly construed as attempting to sneak in Vietnam. However, the punishment was to be taken to a hotel for the transit, in which I slept like a baby on the reasoning it could be the last human comfort I would ever get before ending my days in a tiger pit or playing Russian Roulette. Then we were flown without our passports to Saigon for the connecting flight and seated in a corridor near an open exit to the city under no guard at all, as numerous steadily higher ranking officials passed the buck. Finally, a guy in a military uniform with a hat about 10 inches high came in, took one look and then contemptuously flung the passprts and paperwork at the latest flunky, yelled something at him, and we were allowed through without delay. I presume that they figured if we hadn't simply walked away then we weren't evil capitalist infiltrators after all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Oh, the I94.

    Reminds me of the time we were post-docing in Texas. We wanted to do the cross border thing into one of the Mexican border towns with my father-not-in-law. So we did everything right got all our paperwork sorted before the trip, took an organised (approved) bus tour and made sure the border patrol were happy with us when we left the US. On the way back in we carefully got all our paperwork and passports sorted for the inevitable inspection and expected grilling as we came back into the US ... We happened to be in the back of the bus when the immigration officer got onto the bus and shouted "Any non-US citizens?" We put our hands up and shouted back "Yes, we're New Zealanders" and waved our black passports, stuffed with forms. The officer looked at us, and looked at the packed bus between us and him and shouted "fine", and promptly got off the bus and waved us through.

    It seems immigration is entirely dependent on how tired the particular officer is on the day.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Oh, the I94. They just turned that into an electronic record a couple of months ago, but until that point they certainly hadn't got any better with them - I got a severe telling-off last year for not having made sure mine was taken away before I left the US.

    Are you sure? I haven't had an I94 (that green thing they staple in your passport) in 2-3 years.

    I've certainly gone back a couple of times at SFO and handed mine in when a checkin person forgot - I can't help but wonder that sometimes the further processing that was supposed to be done on them gets flubbed without your knowledge - I'd be much happier with a "you have left the US" stamp in my passport

    If you (anyone) happen to still have an I94 stapled in your passport contact the US consulate now and put things right before you find yourself in some future immigration limbo

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Actually now that I think of it I think that AirNZ may have been part of a pilot program around electronic I94s - you may still have gotten one if you crossed a land border

    Also don't contact the consulate if you still have an I94 - follow these instructions

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    If you (anyone) happen to still have an I94 stapled in your passport contact the US consulate now and put things right before you find yourself in some future immigration limbo

    I don't, as it happens, because I went to Canada last month and re-entered under the new all-electronic system. (I'm living in the US doing my PhD, to clarify.) But for long-stay visas - like my exchange visitor visa - they were absolutely in use up until two months ago. I think they stopped requiring them for the Visa Waiver Program (i.e. what every Kiwi visiting for a week or two will be visiting with) but they were definitely in use for actual take-up-a-whole-page-in-your-passport visas in the last three years. (White, not green, though.) If I were back in NZ permanently and had managed to get out with one still attached I'd definitely want to contact the consulate, though.

    It seems immigration is entirely dependent on how tired the particular officer is on the day.

    Pretty much, in my experience. Which is what makes every border entry so nervewracking.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    You all, weary travellers and otherwise, might enjoy this delightful distraction:
    http://www.mobydickbigread.com/
    A collaborative project organised by Plymouth University featuring the 135 chapters of Herman Melville's amazing novel Moby Dick read aloud by a range of interesting folks, accompanied by artwork.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 828 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to linger,

    were they ever :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Swain, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Magnificent. Thank you.

    Japan • Since Apr 2013 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I could tell of my experiences of applying for a J1 visa to the US earlier this year--which involved a plague of acronyms, considerable expense and trips back and forth to Auckland. That I could cope with but I still have problems being designated as an 'alien'. Americans inhabit the earth; the rest of us are from Saturn or Uranus?

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    being designated as an ‘alien’

    There were times when I was quite happy with the assumption that I was not from the same planet as those people - to be fair we were living in Texas at that time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Susan Snowdon,

    I don’t know how people laughed at this

    Schadenfreude Konrad, schadenfreude. I think Germans invented the concept, don't know if that tells us anything about humour and culture.

    Since Mar 2008 • 110 posts Report Reply

  • "chris", in reply to Susan Snowdon,

    Schadenfreude

    Epicaricacy (uncountable)

    (rare) Rejoicing at or derivation of pleasure from the misfortunes of others.

    From Ancient Greek ἐπί (epí, “upon”) + χάρις (kháris, “joy”) + κακός (kakós, “evil”).

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Susan Snowdon,

    I don’t know how people laughed at this

    Schadenfreude

    I’m not laughing at David and Jen’s suffering, but at an absurd tale brilliantly told.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Oi. Some of my best husbands...

    There are only a few reasons I keep renewing my US passport, but the most important one is that I don't ever have to experience immigration like you guys. Dear lord, what a nightmare. (Every so often I even get a "welcome home" from some stern-faced official who hasn't heard me speak. To which I silently respond "not really".)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    I quite like the term "Alien" does not apply in the UK to Commonwealth citizens resident there, although in practical terms when interacting with the UKBA that may not be obvious.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    I could tell of my experiences of applying for a J1 visa to the US earlier this year–which involved a plague of acronyms, considerable expense and trips back and forth to Auckland.

    Previous considerable expense notwithstanding, I don't necessarily recommend doing what I did, which was to rely on the emergency-only health insurance provided by my third-party sponsor and cash out my 'proper' health insurance allowance instead of spending it on insurance. It did result in savings, just like my projections said it would, but knowing you're underinsured is a constant small worry. Like having a stone in your shoe. For a year.

    (This has been Oh Yeah I've Had That Visa: Part 1. I'm sure there are further parts.)

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Danielle,

    There are only a few reasons I keep renewing my US passport, but the most important one is that I don’t ever have to experience immigration like you guys.

    The last immigration officer I dealt with told me off for responding to the question “Where are you going?” with the name of the airport I was flying to, which is apparently a totally unreasonable answer to that question in the context of an airport. (OTOH, he did not send me to secondary processing like they’re doing to every international student right now because Boston bombings something, so I guess I came across as sufficiently chastised.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I reckon international travel is as closest as one can get to time in prison without doing a a criminal act ie: cramped living space, little exercise space,
    'meals' at specified times, close proximity to annoying people you would usually avoid, being ordered around by uniformed flunkies, being herded in lines, undergoing humiliating security checks, being looked upon with suspicion at every turn, those with more money get more privileges etc etc.

    The aisles on Air New Zealand are so narrow these days that some air hostesses can barely fit down them--and sleeping in an aisle seat means that you get bumped awake every few minutes.

    Bring back six months in a leaky boat, I say.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

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