Monday, January 25, 2010

To travel to the USA

Traveling to the USA has become a little different since a few months.
Any non-American who wants to go to the USA as a tourist needs to go first to a website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Called "ESTA", that stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
On the "ESTA"-website a procedure needs to be followed to obtain permission for a US-visit.
This procedure is answering a series of questions.
Not only name and address, but also phone number and e-mail address.
And information must be supplied where one will go in the USA.
Name and address of US-friends.
There are other questions as well.
About having diseases and a possible criminal history.

Once this questionnaire is filled in, it can be sent and an answer whether one obtains permission to visit the USA is returned within a few minutes.

This procedure was performed not long ago.
And the answer had been that permission was granted to visit the USA.
As a precaution for possible complications at borders and airports, the permission given on the website was printed out.

Yesterday, at the airport of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the journey to Los Angeles in the USA was started.
Checking in was with British Airways.
Their computers connect to the computer and database of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
To check whether the passenger was granted "ESTA"-permission of entry into the USA.
The response was negative.
And therefore British Airways was not allowing the traveller to get on the plane to fly to Los Angeles, USA.

A peculiar situation.
There was a "ESTA"-document saying that permission was recently granted.
But the current on line response from "ESTA" was contrary.

A nervous situation arose.
If permission from the US-authorities was not obtained, British Airways could not accept the passenger and the ticket would become worthless.

The solution was to go to an Internet café somewhere at the airport of Schiphol, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
And visit again the website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
And do the whole "ESTA"-procedure of requesting permission to enter the USA again.
In the hope it all would work out before the gates for the flight would close.

It was an extremely nervous situation.
But eventually "ESTA"-permission was obtained on line.
A quick return to the check-in desk of British Airways where they tried again.
This time it worked but then issuing the boarding card was halted by the computer of U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The British Airways employees had to try five times before it worked.

In the end, the flight was caught in its last minutes of boarding and Los Angeles was reached.


1 comment:

luvglass said...

The pile of shit we're in gets deeper and deeper and the bureaucracy accelerates in it's size and incompetence. Woe is us!!!!