“LA International Airport…

7 03 2008

… where the big jet engines roar”

… and the Customs and Immigration and baggage situation gets worse by the year.

There are two lines at Immigration—one for US Residents, and one for Visitors. But the Visitors line is filled with two types of Visa holders—the green Visa Waiver scheme people (like Australians, Brits etc.) and the white form people (like the entire plane loads from Korea and Chile who arrived just before we did). The white form people took at least 5 minutes each to process—some, 10 minutes; the green people took less than 2 minutes to process. Why don’t they create a Visa Waiver line and a white form line? It would save a lot of frustration…

And how come baggage comes out randomly? I checked both my bags in at the same time with the same person who put them on the conveyor at the same time, and got the first one quickly (that’s because of the LONG lines at Immigration). Had to wait AGES for the second. Both had “First class” tags on them (not “Business” as I expected), yet came out with the “Economy” bags.

And then there are the unlabelled long lines for the final check by Customs before you’re through. No-one to supervise the line, no-one to tell you you’re in the correct line, no big columns of green and red to indicate ‘nothing to declare’ or ‘something to declare’. As an aside, while I was waiting in the last line before getting out into the ‘fresh’ LA air, there was a woman at the Customs counter whose bags were being searched. She had plates of food wrapped in foil, raw meat wrapped in plastic, other food in plastic containers. What *was* she thinking???

BTW, I think that “Immigration” is the correct name for it—not one person in authority appeared to be a caucasian American. All the officials seemed to be from somewhere else, just based on their physical appearance.

Uneventful flight

7 03 2008

Some notes from the Qantas flight from Brisbane to LAX:

  • Took off about 40 mins late
  • Arrived about 10 mins late, but 5-6 hours BEFORE I left
  • Dinner was superb – I had beef fillet
  • ‘Sleep suit’ was terrific and very useful (‘sleep suit’ = pyjamas!)
  • Breakfast was good
  • Movies were crap and didn’t match the Entertainment Guide so I didn’t watch any

Someone famous

7 03 2008

DATELINE… 10:30am Brisbane International Airport Qantas Club Lounge, 7 March 2008. Someone famous is in the lounge. Musician, group. I can’t tell. But there’s a few of them. One has an instrument (guitar?), all have mops of unkempt hair, one’s female. American accents. I’ll see if I can fid out who they are. I don’t recognise any faces…

LATER… on board aircraft prior to take-off. I’m seated one seat slightly behind and across from… Cindi Lauper! I didn’t recognise her as she had a cap/hat on, her hair was bunched up in it, and she had NO makeup on.

Little annoyances

7 03 2008

Some little things encountered today (Friday 7th March Australia), that stopped the smooth transition from Point A to Point B:

  • Not sleeping well last night. I woke several times during the night. Was it the rich, chilli-hot Indian food? Possible. Was it that I knew I had a plane to catch tomorrow? Likely. For some reason, even if I have a long flight ahead and whether I get to bed early or not, I just never sleep very well the night before. I wonder if the alarm will fail on the only day it’s not meant to fail, or if I won’t get to the airport on time. I don’t know where this irrational fear of missing a flight comes from—I’ve never missed one in my life (well, one, but that was totally out of my control—I landed 3 hours late and I missed the connecting flight but got on another within a few hours… and that was more than 20 years ago).
  • Taxi rank being used by other vehicles. Right outside my accommodation in central Brisbane is a cab rank. When I came out on to the street with my luggage, there were no cabs there, but the stand was filled with other vehicles—couriers, service vehicles, delivery vans, and the like. I missed one cab as he didn’t see me try to flag him down (some of those vans are high). For the second one (some 5-10 mins later), I actually stood out in the road to flag him down, then he had to stop in the middle of one of Brisbane’s main streets to load my stuff into the cab (well, I loaded it—he wouldn’t get out of the vehicle). Designated taxi stands should be for taxis, not other commercial vehicles. The signs clearly said this was a taxi zone. Grrr…
  • Over-cautious drivers. The taxi driver was a very cautious driver—hesitant to the point of nervousness, IMHO. He touched his brakes many time when it wasn’t necessary. His nervousness about driving in traffic made me nervous!
  • On a more positive note, the Qantas check-in desk at Brisbane’s international terminal was a breeze, as was Customs and the carry-on luggage check.
  • But another negative was the lack of business facilities in the Qantas Club Lounge. For the 100+ (maybe 200+) seats in the Lounge, there were only four computer terminals. Only three worked, and the one I eventually got, wouldn’t print to the printer. The guys at two of the terminals were having a conversation they could have had in the lounge seats, which added a little to the frustration.

None of this is earth-shattering, and normally none of these incidents would raise a blip on my radar, but for some reason they annoyed me this morning. As I said, it’s the little things…