My United Airlines flight into Brussels arrived at a hard stand this morning. I generally find those annoying for any number of reasons, but in this case it gave me the opportunity to chat with another passenger about our trips and share a couple quick travel stories. Among them, I related that I generally enjoy coming in to Europe because the immigration process is so easy and it is such a quick flight from New York City for a day or two. She was ahead of me in line when we got to the immigration desk and made it through with only the slightest questioning. I was not so lucky.
The questions started in the normal manner – what is the reason for your visit and how long are you here for – and my answers were my usual ones, one day for holidays. Apparently this agent was not happy about the one day stay. Thumbing through my passport he noted, “You seem to come to Europe a lot, only for one or two days. I find that strange.” Yes, I do. I like visiting. Can I now continue to do so? Not so fast.
Do I have a hotel reservation? Yes, I do. Where? Here’s the email confirmation; I don’t really remember the name as I just made it yesterday. Still not convinced.
I tried explaining the miles angle and he was having none of it. He complained about the taxes on awards and I started to try to explain that those weren’t nearly as big an issue in the USA-based programs but that didn’t seem to be helping my case either.
At this point – about 5 minutes in to my stay at the counter – he leaned over to his neighbor and started talking about me. I only caught a few words but the gist of it was that I’m apparently suspect. He started to fill out a form, one I’ve never seen before, which I’m guessing was sending me to a secondary inspection. He went to make a call to find someone, I’m assuming with the rubber gloves, and then noticed that a supervisor was standing right there. Lucky me.
I explained again that I really do just love traveling, that the ticket was only $350 and that I really like Belgian beer. I figured the flattery might help, plus it is the truth. The supe wasn’t quite as skeptical, but he still wasn’t convinced.
It was at this point that the supervisor noticed the luggage tags on my bag. I’ve got quite a collection and they’re great as souvenirs or to help folks identify me when I’m meeting a new group. In this case, they also seemed sufficient to prove that I really am a crazy travel person, but a harmless one. The supervisor flipped through them, made a couple more comments to the agent and then I heard the magic words: “You seem to have convinced my supervisor.”
I’ll settle for the fact that the guys think I’m crazy – they’re not wrong – so long as I can also go get my beer.
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