Since September 11th, travel on both an international and domestic basis, has changed a lot. The warnings that you are hearing about taking your time and getting to the airport early to allow for delays are something that you ought to listen to. And, remember that your attitude will play a big part in the process. Lots of people will be frustrated and angry about the delays. Don’t let that be you. You put your best foot forward and let your light shine. Remember, these people are doing their jobs….try to make the process as pleasant as you can, and it will go much better.
Traveling TO GuyanaIt will be important to stay together as a group. If you don’t, the people who are traveling alone seem to be singled out for random security searches. On the way to Guyana in January, I was traveling alone, and got stopped in every single airport for a random check. Some of these random checks are thorough and take some time, so be prepared for that.
Traveling FROM Guyana to the United StatesThis is the part of the trip that is going to take longer than usual. First off, while you are packing to leave Guyana, they will allow you One carry on bag (weighing ONLY 16 pounds…..strictly enforced) and one purse or computer bag. THAT IS ALL.
When we arrive at the airport, they will take the bags to security first and EVERY SINGLE BAG, PURSE, CARRY ON, will be searched by hand. This is going to take some time for our groups, which means we are probably going to have to get there earlier.
After this initial security check, we will have your boarding passes issued and purchase your exit taxes. Then you will proceed to immigration. This has not changed in any way.
After immigration, you will go through another security check (don’t get upset, there will be several more before you get home). They will search all the contents of each carry on bag, purse, or computer bag. They will also frisk everyone so be prepared for this.
Then you will proceed to another document check.
After you board, you will land in either Trinidad or Barbados and will have to exit the plane. This is for ANOTHER security check. In Trinidad, they will take you up to the In Transit lounge and you will go through security where they will x-ray your bags and you will walk through a metal detector.
If you land in Barbados, you will go through an x-ray and metal detector to enter the airport, then when you leave in transit, you will go to the gate, where they will search each carry on, purse, and computer bag by hand….and then frisk you before you get on the aircraft.
Then it is on to the USAImmigration has not changed at all in the US, but Customs is checking more things than normal. As a result, virtually all bags are X-rayed in the Customs area of the Miami Airport. You will be waved through, but still all bags have to be x-rayed. Then, my experience in February was that the airline check-in desks that are just outside of Customs were closed. This means you will have to hire skycaps to get you upstairs to your check in counters. Team Leaders….come prepared for this expense. (About a $1.00 to $2.00 per bag)
Then it is on out to check in for your domestic connection. Spot checks will be the order of the day most of the way home. (I was checked a total of 8 times on the way home from Guyana in February.)
You may be required to remove your shoes, loosen your belt, or otherwise prove that you are not carrying something concealed. (No….you should not be strip searched so don’t panic)
IN CONCLUSIONThe key to all of this is to be friendly, happy, and early. If you keep a smile through the process, most of the security people will be pleasantly surprised, and you will lift their spirits. This is not a bad thing.
Complaining, fussing, or otherwise wise-cracking will do you no good. In fact, it will make things worse. SO DON’T DO IT. Furthermore, this is NOT a time for jokes. ANY KIND OF JOKES! They take any comment very serious, and will arrest or detain you for wise-cracking. Mind what you say…..control your urge to complain or be funny. Just remain calm and pleasant, and the entire process will go by just fine.
19 February 2002
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