Ian Hobson has been discovering what’s so painful about travelling to the US: getting between your plane and the street.
My flight was relatively on-time. However, as I turned the corner into immigration, I couldn’t believe what I saw.There were at least 1000 people in front of me… It took me almost 2 hours to get through – not what I wanted at 4am in the morning UK time…instead of arranging your transport; you do absolutely NOTHING for 2 hours but stand and shuffle your bags a few metres at a time. When you do get out, the transport is a mess – complete gridlock because relatives have come to pick up people, and instead of just doing a pick up, the whole place is a parking lot… On returning to the UK, I disembarked (or de-planed as I’ve heard say) via a bus, went through customs, got a taxi home to SW London all in under 50 minutes. If I’d been an American, I doubt it would have taken any longer. While it was a longer line here than I’ve been used to, and slower moving, it was NOTHING like the US. Anyone considering a shopping trip to NY should seriously factor in that a 7 hour flight these days is more like a 13 hour home-to-hotel trip, and IMHO you’ve got to save a lot of money to justify losing 26 hours of your life on a return trip.
Personally, I’ve been putting off invites to the US for a couple of years now, for two reasons: you have to fight for a journalist visa down at the US Embassy, in person; and you then get treated like a suspect for having the temerity to show up and seek to get in. I’ve told Dell, Adobe and Messagelabs (certainly the first two, I think the latter) that my reason for turning down offers to meet their people in the US is because of the huge pain going there now involves.