Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Traveling over the holidays

We decided to try traveling to Penang and Bangkok this past Christmas season. The lines at Dulles airport were long but the (cute red headed) CBP agent was surprisingly cheerful when she checked our passports and let us through. That alone was enough to make my day.

Surprisingly, we didn't have to remove laptops from our carry-ons nor did we have to remove our shoes. This was not the case at other airports however. In Dubai and Bangkok we had to take the laptops out of our bags. We didn't remove our shoes although some passengers did and the security staff there did not indicate anything to us. The security procedures aren't evenly applied to say the least.

One surprise (for me who doesn't travel much) was the introduction of machines for reading passports at Dulles. However, it didn't seem to make much of a dent in the lines although it is hard to tell when you're the one in a long line. As always, helpful airport staff directed us to which counters we could wait at since we weren't eligible for the machines.

Automated passport processing has already been in place for a while in Penang (at least since last year). Place the passport in the bin, take a fingerprint scan and then you're done. This is only for Malaysian citizens however. It isn't clear to me what this has to be the case. Now that most passports have biometric information (and possibly chipped) it seems that almost everyone who has a new passport should be able to be processed by a machines. It is way more pleasant than waiting in a long line and much faster.

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