CUSTOMS BORDER CONTROL Miami USA, Heathrow UK, Ireland

CUSTOMS and BORDER CONTROL

Miami USA, Heathrow UK, and the Republic of Ireland

We have just finished one and a half years of traveling in North, South and Central America.

Now it is time to head to the other side of the world.

We have been staying with our Airbnb host, and he is kind enough to drive us to the airport.

It is peak hour and so this takes some time, even though he has a Florida Toll Sunpass, and we used express lanes.

So when we arrive at the Miami airport, I find there are no queues for Virgin Atlantic.  In fact, 2 people are waiting to assist us. We lift up our slightly overweight bags.  “No problem,” she says.  She tags them and we have to carry them over to the security section.  This 4-5 meter walk is about the most hassle we get in the next 24 hours.

We then head down to have our passport checked manually by a standing lady. She puts a sticker on the back and signs the boarding pass and we head to get our hand luggage scanned.

We proceed as normal, and I wait to go through customs and immigration.  Turns out the standing lady was it.  No eyeball scan or exit photo.  Miami customs wins the award for the easiest Customs and Border Control in the whole of our last 20 countries I think.

We have a bit of time waiting.  The airport waiting area is small.

There is a Pizza Hit there with reasonably priced pizzas, so we sit there.

Then we go for a walk and the next thing it is time to get on the plane.

There is an awful stink of rotten fish on the plane. Several people gag, and many complaints. It lasts a good hour, but as we get to take off it seems to subside.

There is shocking turbulence.  So much so the flight attendants find it impossible to serve a meal much before midnight.  My son is quite ill.  We strip him down as he overheats, and of course, he eats and drinks nothing.  He hangs onto a paper bag for a good couple of hours.  Finally, he nods off with no clothes on, except his underwear, and so I cover him up for a good night sleep.

By the time we have breakfast served he is feeling better, but won’t eat.

As we fly over London, the excitement of seeing the twisting Thames River, Red Double Decker Buses and much more buzzes through both of us.

We arrive at Heathrow, and I have heard all the horror stories about Customs / Border Control and have had colleagues who have been given grief, so am somewhat dubious.

We have to pick a bus from Terminal 5 to Terminal 1.

We walk a LONG way.

When we go to check through, they tell us we should be on the 2nd floor to go Customs. So up we head.  We get there and it seems closed.  We see a lady sitting there of Muslim faith who is the Customs lady.  She tells us to move the closed belt, and come on up to the counter.  She helps us with questions we have too. We have a chat for about 5 minutes after she has processed our Immigration form.  There is absolutely no hassle, and she is just lovely.

We get to the next lady (not sure of her role) and we chat again with her. Another lovely person and we head on through with such a breeze.

It was so easy, I don’t know if Miami still wins the easiest Customs award from us.

We change a bit of money both Euro and Pounds Sterling (the airport exchange rate is horrid) and we sit and enjoy lunch.

There is a great play area, and my son makes a friend.

The kids are checked in and it is a London themed play area.

There is free wi-fi, plus if you sign for  Heathrow card online which is also FREE, you get another 45 minutes FREE wi-fi.  All is good here.

Heathrow is a silent airport. You get no calls for flights.

Suddenly we check the board and it is time to proceed to our gate.  5 hours have passed in a flash.

We have another long walk to get to our departure area.

As I go through security I cause a beep.  For the first time ever I am not asked to go back through the scanner without shoes etc. Instead, a female officer is called to pat me down.  Well, I can tell you I think she may? Have been gay????  The pat down was more of a subtle relaxing massage and it was everywhere!  I did make a comment to her that I felt more like I had gone to a massage parlor and she smiled. Hmmmm.

We head to the flight and before I know it my son is asleep again. Seeing I had 1 hours sleep last flight, I am a bit tired and jealous.

Before I know it Ireland is beneath us.

It is a beautiful sight to behold.

The sky is even blue, and the cliffs are very evident on the coastline.

We have a bit of a time as a man thinks he is helping us off with our backpacks, but we have our backpacks, and he has picked up another person.  They come running after us as I am left holding a backpack that I look like I have swiped!  I try to explain to her that the man passed it to me, and I never took it.

We, therefore, are last to customs.

The man here at Customs is very unhappy.  He grills me about home-schooling. He grills me about how long we are staying etc.  He finally lets us through, and my friend’s parents are there waiting to take us to their home.

They welcome us into their home and we have a warm and cozy room.

The central heating is lovely. We share a lovely dinner and I sleep for 11 hours.

I am really pleased to be in Ireland.

I can’t wait to see the rolling green hills; the castles; the country lanes; and the little towns with traditional stores.

And to sit at an Irish Pub and have a Guinness!

Welcome to our 21st country (we don’t count England or several countries we visited 2 or more times either).

I think we are doing amazingly well!

Questions and Comments
  • What are the challenges you have previously faced while tring to cross borders?
  • How were you able to overcome challenges?
  • Do share your comments with us below.

 

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One comment

  1. On our recent month long trip in Southeast Asia, we entered 5 new countries, passing through immigration control and customs in each. The longest we waiting in a line was 45 minutes in Bangkok, but then they gave us a free tourist visa so — whatever. No real hassles. Our only pat down was in Manila where we were just in transit in the airport. Everyone was patted down. I still find it totally cool (does anyone say “cool” anymore?) that one can leave one’s bed on the east coast of the US and 40 hours later, collapse into one in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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