Just writing to tell you of my experience of entering America. I go through extra special security checks departing Auckland, because these are US specifications, okay so the plane is an hour late departing due to other extra US spec security checks, before the flight crew are even allowed onboard.
Arrive at LAX; despite the fact we are in transit, we pass through immigration. You need to give a name & full address of where you plan to stay in the country, why you are there, how long you intend on staying in that one place. You have a retina scan and have to give two fingerprints.
Then we walk out to the carousel to collect our luggage, only to have to walk through a series of queues, to another security check, where they take your luggage from you and pass it through a scanner. (This is where, without your consent or knowledge, they break into your luggage. They break the zip or the lock, which ever is easiest, in my case they broke the zippers). Can we claim against them, no, its American security policy. Why the hell there isnt any information prior to entering the country about such procedures I dont know. What happened to civil liberty? But you dont even know about this damage until you reach your final destination, and even then I didnt actually notice because I was suffering jetlag.
After this stage, of dropping off your luggage. We then walk out of the building through an xray machine, out of the terminal around the corner then into another set of doors, up along a roped off corridor to the end, where a woman sent us back down the line to another woman, who then picked us off randomly, sending some (fortunately not me) back down the line again to the other end. You could see from some faces that they weren't best pleased with this walking up and down 'for no apparent reason' and with no explaination.
We then walk through another heavily roped area, weaving up and down and up and down (with other harrassed/pissed off looking tourists) to another xray machine, where you have to take off your top layer of clothes to tee-shirt/vest or whatever, take off your watch (even if its plastic like mine), take out your lipsalve, take off your scarf, and hair bungee and place in the box. Take off your shoes and belt and any other jewellry. The clothes and shoes, watch etc get scanned, whilst you go through a machine that blows air onto you, and apparently the machine sniffs you for chemicals. Once the other side you redress, show your passport & boarding card then you can walk through.
On route to gate, another security check. Finally you get to your gate and even there, before you get on the plane, once again they check your passport and boarding pass.
Our plane from LAX was even delayed a further 1.5hrs because it was raining. Apparently they dont like to fly in bad weather!
They also have these security checks at any building you want to enter, eg. Empire State building, Rockerfeller building, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, even on the ferries. Its dull, slow, irritating to a huge degree.
In fact after what I went through in the last 3 days in New York, its doubtful I will be hurrying back to any part of America in the near future!
And have you heard the latest....? America is worried stiff of what will happen on Devil's Day.....6 June 06 (6 + 6 + 06) oooh heed the warning, dont give bith to the devil child...yes its a big talking point in America at the moment, they even have huge billboards around the airports and train stations warning you about it.
Paranoid or what!
I've been through LAX many times and most recently only about a month ago and have never find the security to be any more troublesome than any other airport. In fact, the airport that gave me the most trouble was Aukland - they even swabbed my credit cards for traces of god-knows-what! You're being very naive if you think that other countries won't break into your luggage for random security checks or if they suspect that you're carrying something illegal. As for the tight security in the touristy sites, it's like that IN MANY MANY COUNTRIES, not just in New York, not just in the US!! There are those air-puff thingies at the CN Tower in Toronto, and the line-up to go through security at Louvre is one of the longest I've ever been in!
It's sad that you base your whole impression of America on a mere 3-day stay in NY! That's just wrong. How can you categorize and dismiss a whole country like that?? The US is a huge, diverse area with some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world! It's like someone saying that they won't revisit the whole of Europe anytime soon because they spent 3 days in Paris being irritated by metro attendants! Lighten-up!!!
I feel I must agree with mtlgal. It really is not that bad. And even if it were, America lost literaly thousands of civilians in a single attack. Can you really blame us for being extra cautious? In response to the whole 06-06-06 phenomenon, I know no one who take that seriously. That kind of thing only really exists with religous zealots, which I would assume exists even where you are from. That they appear to have purchased billboard advertising near the airport is embarrasing, but hardly an indicator of the attitude of the country regarding the topic. I am sorry that you had such a poor experience, but I would ask you to not judge all of us based on how a single airport was managed or the placment of religious rhetoric.
I kinda agree with all the posts here, sounds strange I know but I can see where he is coming from with regards to the ammount of checks you go through before finally getting to where youv'e been looking foward to get to -but at the same time feel assured in the knowledge that the airlines/governments are doing all they can to prevent another 911. It's a tricky subject in my opinion, because I too would be aggrivated by constant checks like 6 or 7 of them but i'd rather have that than a higher risk of something terrible happening my view is that it's something that has to be done, just more efficient and less hassle to the tourist than it is.
Interestly though I have heard that Canadian and American passport holders are exempt from the fingerprinting requirement. I don't know how accurate this is but this would seem to discredit any arguments about it being in the interest of national security. Can any Canadians or Americans provide some clarification on this point? If I am correct on this point, do your governments have other means of cataloguing their citizens fingreprints/identities. I won't comment either way on my views on the level of security but I think the posts thus far highlight the difficulties associated in border protection. I think it also provides an interesting side to contemporary politics in light of recent terrorist activities...
I can't help much Alex, as I used to work for the government so they have my fingerprints...background check...credit check...everyone I've ever known since 2nd grade check...on file already....Do I think it is excessive? Extremely!!!
Land of the Free? America has become Land of the Laws...and belongs to the politicians and lawyers Am I exaggerating? A little, but it is slowing moving in that direction.
Yes, it's true. Canadians and Americans are exempt from the fingerprinting. Which is a good thing for me, because when I was going through LAX, I probably would have refused, which would have caused a lot of trouble I'm sure.
But really, all this new "security" that has come up, is really just for show. It makes people feel safe and secure. However, if someone really wants to get something through security, it really wouldn't be too hard. I worked at the airport for a few months, and I know many ways that I could sneak something in if I wanted to. And this information would be available to anyone really looking for it.
I am less cynical about security measures in American airports than some of the others here. I am fairly certain that Americans and Canadians do not need to be fingerprinted because our govt is confident in the Canadian and American passort issueing process and the checks that take place at that point in time.
Airport security in America is still evolving. The TSA is still growing. Until they reach their goal size, their policies will have to change to refelct their on-hand man power. The end result being that there will be hang-ups from time to time where new procedures are put into place. Having also worked in airports and gone through the background checks I can say with certainty that our airports are taking their security seriously.
I think we all have mixed emotions on security at the airports. Definitely a pain to go through, but we all want to arrive at the destination safely as well. Leaving Bangkok's Don Muang is almost the same as leaving LAX.
If you would have come to Las Vegas you would have had a completely different experience. All the hotels that I have visited let you walk into them w/o any security checks at all. Some hotels do check your trunk if you park in the free guest parking, that is it. With over 40 million visitors a year, it would be almost impossible to check each person as the entered a hotel or casino.
At the popular government attractions such as Hoover Dam, then you do pass through a metal detector and have your camera examined. That will happen almost everywhere from now on. Just the world we now live in.