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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Update: Why I (used to) hate Dulles

Wikimedia Commons, Joe Ravi/CC-BY-SA 3.0

(Since this was originally posted in 2013, things have gotten far better for arriving international passengers at Dulles. Updated October 4, 2017)

Dulles' traffic is down. 

You don't say.

I can give you a few reasons:

1.  Inefficiency

2.  Sullen, mediocre staff

3.  Delays

4.  Time

On Saturday night I was one of about 300 deplaning from international flights at Dulles where "our time" was the middle of the night. Woe be to us.

I suppose it was a new experience for Dulles which must not have access to flight schedules so it didn't know 300 were arriving simultaneously to go through "passport control," and that is why only three of 24 lanes were open for U.S. citizens for "processing."   I was in the second line of between 10 and 15 lines, likely 30 deep each, at least.  I took photos, but, alas, I was thwarted by the Dulles' staff. Surprise.  Read on.

After 25 minutes a man in the first lane called out to an attendant:  "Can't you get more people here to process us?  My goodness, you only have three lanes open for all these people!"  She looked deaf, blind, and mute.  It was 7:55 p.m. EST and 3:55 a.m. Moscow time.

Five minutes later another lane opened to accommodate the hundreds of people.  Babies cried.  Spouses exchanged irritations.  Children asked "Why?"

It took 40 minutes for me to be "processed."  How long would you estimate the people in the last line waited?  That, in addition to another passport check and declarations of goods brought into the U.S. at another station beyond the first.   
This did not happen last year at National Airport where processing was uneventful and fast.  Maybe the Dulles' staff can attend classes at National Airport.

When I got to Moscow last week and some Brits found out I was from Washington, they rushed to tell me their horrid experience at Dulles when they visited the U.S.  "It took us two hours to get through passport control," they said.  Oh, really.  At the Moscow airport, we sailed through with three persons in lines at most, and were "processed" quickly.

The only time I ran into any security problems on my trip was at Dulles.  No questions (or police) at the Kremlin, in Red Square or anywhere else in Russia.  Not even from the Russian military I often shot.
When I photographed the throng of people and crying babies in the middle of the night at Dulles, I was rushed by "Mahder" who demanded I delete my pictures of Dulles and said she would watch me to make sure I did it.  Why can't I keep my pictures to show your inefficiency?  I asked.  She said she could not say why. 
One of my pictures was a stand-up advertisement in the last line we could read about 1,000 times which said:  "What are you waiting for?"  And on a brochure Mahder handed me:  "You're in a hurry.  Global Entry Makes International Arrivals Fast & Easy."  Ha!  Ha!  The joke was on us.

Dulles thinks it's the only airport with security in place and that's why no photos are allowed?  If you think D.C. is a police state, it will be confirmed for you on a trip to Russia where security is lax, and people laugh on the streets and are happy.  As Derrick from Britain said before the British Parliament voted to stay out of the Syria mess: "America attacks everyone, and that's why America is a target."

The only piece of good news from the night came from the bus driver who said the traffic to Dulles was so light on the bus line from Tysons to the airport, the fare had been cut from $5 to $1.80. 

I can tell you why.

You have heard the expression "I hate Duke." 

Well guess what.

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