18th October 2012
Leaving my gorgeous week of my stay in Fiji, it was time to move on to my next spanking new destination, USA! Or Specifically Los Angeles.
The flight was pretty good as prepared by my check-in info for United Airlines. Explaining how it will all go, I was still gobsmacked when I boarded the biggest plane ever to be flown in. This was my first time flying on a plane that not only had one gallery but 2! It was pretty surreal to find a staircase leading up the gallery above as I passed it to get to my seat.
However, if you don’t want to fly with an expensive airline, cheap flights can be found here.
Settling into my seat, I introduced myself to the people sat next to me. I was in the aisle, always in the aisle for extra leg room and control of getting stuff out of the locker above, and a Spanish mother was sat next to me with her daughter in the window seat. The daughter didn’t do much throughout the flight except sleep! But the mother was very interested in my travel stories and then proceeded to bring out 5 books from her bag. All romantic trashy novels. She then felt the need to go through the plotlines and characters of each of the books that took the best part of 2 hours when we lifted off. It wasn’t until she got to the last book that she brought out 50 Shades of Grey that I truly had a discussion with her about it! Speaking of that book, I finally finished it off and I could now tell Michelle who gave me the book in Fiji what I truly thought of it! I mean, I never knock anything unless I’ve tried it. So now that I’ve read the book, I won’t be reading the sequels. Fact. The rest of the flight, I managed to doze off successfully to which I was ecstatic about as I can never get to sleep on planes especially in economy seats. My attempts to try to get a business class or even first class at every check in around the world failed even when I say it’s my birthday, or I’m disabled, or I need extra leg room or I need looking after! They would stare at me disdainfully and promptly assign me the worst economy seat. Surely, they must say yes to the tall, dark and ultra-handsome stranger who might say to them ‘will you run away with me and get married?’
Crossing the International Date Time Line was a huge highlight for me. It meant that I actually went ‘round the world’. So I left Fiji at 10pm 18th October and travelled back in time to land in Los Angeles at 1pm 18th October. There you have it, now I can be eligible to be a time traveller with the Doctor and now I can have adventures with Amy Pond (drool). Sadly, I was to find out later that she’s just had her last adventure with the Doctor thanks to the Weeping Angels.
Feeling out of time, I lined up after getting off the plane to get processed through American Immigration. Now, I have to tell you this, I wasn’t staying in Los Angeles. I’m just passing through the airport as I’m flying off to another destination where I am extremely excited about. But first, I need to get through the infamous American Immigration. I was worried before that I would find myself with nothing to do after getting processed to the next flight as my travel agent contacted me to say that my flight has been postponed back 4 more hours so I had 6 hours to kill in the airport. Before I had only 2 hours to get off the plane and then get onto the next one. Boy, I’m glad it was pushed back!
Here we go, here is RexyEdventures’ experience in American Immigration!
After walking past so many gates, (Los Angeles Airport is bloody massive!), we must have been joined by 100 other planes that landed at the same time as us and all of us had to go through immigration. Split into US Citizens and Non-US Citizens, we were assigned to different queues. My queue was sooooooo long and it looked like I would be waiting at least 30 mins to get seen to. After 40 mins, the queue hardly moved thanks to some evil Chinese tourists being heavily questioned, and so we were assigned to another queue, which seemed even longer! Why have they put us in another queue?! Another 45 mins later of standing in the same position and watching an incredibly annoying American tv reel of people constantly smiling and welcoming me to America, we were told to go to another queue. To stand there for another 30 mins. By rights, if I stuck to the original flight out of LA then I would have missed it by now!
Finally, I was being seen to. Now, I’ve heard about the brutal questioning of tourists by American Immigration officials so I tried to make myself look bored and disinterested. That didn’t work. It made me look more nervous and scared. I didn’t want to be picked out and taken to an interrogation room where they might be lubing up a rubber glove and telling me to bend over.
Approaching the desk, I was asked for my passport and flight details. I handed it over. This beefcake of a guy scrutinized me under his probing stare and I began to fidget and sweat. He asked me loads of questions that seemed he wanted me to trip over my answers. First he asked me my name (momentarily forgot), then my age, my birth date and where I was from. Then he asked me where I’ve been in the last year.
That sorted, he asked me why I’m coming into America. I said so. Then he asked me where I was going next after LA. He then asked me where I would be going in the airport (how do I know, I’ve never been?!), then asked me if I was planning to leave the airport. (No). He then asked why I didn’t want to leave the airport (woah, trick question?), then he asked me again where I would be going. (Didn’t I already tell you?), and asked me for my name again. He stared at my boarding card and motioned for another immigration official to come over and have a look.
I died a little inside.
The other official proceeded to ask me the same questions and asked why I didn’t want to stay in America through Los Angeles. Then he asked me if I have ever been engaged in terrorist activities. (What?) and then went through the same questions again.
Hmmm, they replied.
And asked me to place my fingertips and thumbs on the screening machine and I had to have my photo taken. Before they did that, I asked if I should smile. They stared at me blankly. So that was over and done with. Then they asked me why I went travelling, and again asked me why I want to come to America and countered with why I didn’t want to stay in America through LA (That doesn’t make sense.) They didn’t give an acknowledgement that I would be ok and I resigned myself to being interrogated. Then all of sudden, they stamped my passport, handed it back to me, gave me a smile and said Welcome to America! I’m in woo!
Then came the next big task. Collecting my bag. I’m surprised no one threw my bag into the lost and found after going around the belt all this time when I was trying to get through immigration. Finding it, I queued up to get out of the room, it was a massive queue. Then there were bag searches. I saw my padlock had been opened and left open when I picked it up from the belt, at least American officials should have closed it properly you know! I was asked to stand aside and show my bag to them. Getting out of the bag claim after an hour spent there, I went through various corridors etc and placed my bag to be transferred onto another plane where I will be catching to my next destination. But I was worried. This room transported bags to all the terminals of the airport to the correct plane…I hoped. After all this time of travelling, I truly felt my bag was in the most danger of getting misplaced and I interrogated the airport officials myself to ensure my bag would be taken to the correct terminal and then to the correct plane. Okay, then I had to find the terminal myself. This meant stepping out of the airport. I was confused. I wasn’t supposed to leave the airport…and here I was stepping out into the Californian sun and free to escape.
Oh dear, I was expecting FBI to appear out of nowhere and arrest me on the spot but I meekly scarpered to the next terminal along to check in again. But apparently, upon arrival, I was already checked in. Okay, they gave me a boarding pass and told me to go through security.
Which meant, MORE Queues…
Reaching to me, I said that I couldn’t go through the scanner due to my cochlear implant and what a kerfuffle of a process! Fearing that I could sue them for sexual misconduct or harassment, I had to sign loads of papers clearing them of that and also for them to go through the entire process of how they would…touch me. ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be using the back of my hands to run across your body and I will have to touch you in places considered private…what? I just told them to get on with it. If there was any more queues then I would truly miss my plane.
After 30 seconds of touching and frisking me, I was free to go. Finally, I was in the terminal lounge and ready to catch my flight. And you know what? In all that 6 hours, I had 45 mins left to wait for my flight. Wow.
It was truly an absolute bitch of a long day and I couldn’t wait for a nice warm bed as despite being early evening, I felt like it was 3am in the morning. But I knew, when I boarded the plane, I would be wide awake and excited looking forward to my next destination.
As Barack Obama grinned at me from the screens all around me, I knew what he wanted to personally say,
‘Welcome to America.’
Wow, what a hell of a layover!
I traveled to LA with a friend in September. We had a layover at JFK and I remembered the last time I was there custom officiers were really unfriendly. This time however, everything went super smoothly.
You know you have to fill in this form where you say if you have something you’re bringin into the country? Well, I checked the box for ‘food’ and wrote ‘waffles’ next to it.
So at all the ‘checkpoints’ after getting out of the plane, all the officers were asking me about Belgian waffles and if I preferred them to pancakes and how you can put waffles in the freezer (What?)…
I’m definitely bringing waffles on my next trip to the States!
Haha, they ask the most random questions! Waffles of mass destruction I’m sure!