MIA TSA Immigration Meltdown on 24 September 2014

Discussion in 'MIA/FLL/PBI | South Florida Area Airports' started by jbcarioca, Sep 24, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    This morning i arrived on AA904 twenty minutes early, so we had to wait until the 04:00 opening for TSA Immigration processing. So far, normal.

    Problem One: Then, it turned out that none of the Global Entry kiosks were operating although most of them showed they were in service, accepted documents then simply timed out, whereupon a "Sorry..." screen appeared. Many of, like idiots, kept trying without success.

    Problem Two: Finally a few dozen of us gave up and entered the hall, whereupon the GE people were told to get customs declarations and enter the normal lines, which were enormous by that time.

    Problem Three: The customs declaration forms ran out, so we had to wait a few minutes for a new supply to arrive.

    Problem Four: The Immigration computers then failed too, stopping all the processing.

    Problem Five: Once the forms were found and filled out the line itself took almost twenty minutes even though one had opened dedicated to GE only.

    Problem Six: Agent: "where did you come from?"; me: "Rio de Janeiro"; Agent: "why were you there?" me: "I live there" he: "why do you live there rather than in the US?" me: (tiredly) "my family is there" he: "then why do you come to the US?" me: "business" he: "what kind of business?" me: "consulting" he: "OK" (this is not so much a problem as it is irritating)

    Problem Seven: me no bags waiting in the GE Customs line, commingled with crew. Single Customs guy takes seven crew members while GE line grows and grows. Each crew member is asked several questions. Finally, some GE people are interspersed with the growing queues of crew members and GE people. Finally, 15 minutes later it is my chance. Refer to "Problem Six" after repeating those questions he asked how much money I was bringing in. I told him my US money was in US bank accounts so I only had about one hundred dollars in cash. Luckily he then let me go on my way.

    The entire process took me a little more than one hour. Maybe I should not complain.
     
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  2. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Thanks for your posting, jbcarioca! MIA is an airport that I dread, after many experiences "pre-Global Entry" with immigration, customs, TSA, the airlines, and then having to "discover" our luggage in a huge pile and then carry it to our connecting flights within the US. It's easy to imagine the system falling apart when Global Entry fails to work. I've also waited in lines over an hour long in both MIA and IAD "pre-Global Entry". The only foreign airport I've similarly waited in lines as long (i.e., is just as inefficient) is IST.
     
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  3. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    In fairness I should have said that post- PortPass (predecessor of GE) and GE I have never and any problems with MIA other than rude officials, which seem to be ubiquitous from time to time. MIA luggage handling has been excellent for the last year, at least also. This was the exception for me, thus the post.
     
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  4. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Let's hope that your good fortune continues! ;)
     
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  5. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I have had GE for a couple years, and I tend to fill out the customs form during the flight anyway just in case the GE system won't work on arrival. So far I have never needed the form, and after my last trip I decided to stop that "belts and suspenders" approach. Perhaps I will now instead switch to a partially completed form that has all the information that isn't trip specific, and keep that in my carry-on bag.
     
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  6. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Me too, and I've needed that form a couple times when the GE kiosks were dead.

    However, on my last flight into the USA, FAs only were willing to give the blue forms to foreigners because they said that all USA citizens would be using the machines. This would have created a real mess if the GE kiosks and new general machines had been down when we landed.

    Maybe on my next trip I should try to tell the FA that I'm Canadian so that I can get a form just in case.
     
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  7. ACMM
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    ACMM Gold Member

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    Happy to send you a stack of BLUE forms :)
     
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  8. Seacarl
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    Seacarl Gold Member

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    Thread title is misleading. TSA isn't involved. This is CBP. Or is it ICE?

    Too many bureaucracies...
     
  9. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    USICS is the name of the org now, I believe. Definitely not TSA.
     
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  10. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    QUOTE="jbcarioca, post: 2442650, member: 4208"]In fairness I should have said that post- PortPass (predecessor of GE) and GE I have never and any problems with MIA other than rude officials, which seem to be ubiquitous from time to time. MIA luggage handling has been excellent for the last year, at least also. This was the exception for me, thus the post.[/QUOTE]

    You knew that posting anything with regard to MIA was likely to attract the usual comments surely? :) As one has flown through that airport on regular basis basically all my life I will agree its not half as bad as some make it to be. A system breakdown as you describe above can/will/has happened anywhere and MIA has improved considerably over the last few years considering the extended period of the renovations etc etc which in its scope has been more extensive IMHO than any other US airport.

    I am always amused by the its "worse than a third world airport" comments coming very often from UK pax who rarely connect at that paragon of upper-duper efficiency LHR.( which has got the be the absolute worse airport for luggage) The fact is that MIA is in the top two airports in the US in handling International passengers the great majority coming from those "dreaded third world nations":rolleyes: .. g Give me MIA any time over LHR or JFK.
     
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  11. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Had I had the wisdom to say DHS I might have been less inaccurate.
     
  12. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    As a non-American my last entry to USA took almost 2 hours (of which maybe 2 minutes were questions at immigration & customs, the rest was queuing). A previous entry at MIA took over 3 hours.
     
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  13. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

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    I will see how my Oct entry goes.
     
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  14. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    MIA is all about the day (of the week) and the time of day you arrive( land) at the airport. It is greatly affected on weekends by multiples of thousands of cruise pax either arriving or departing, travelling to the port. It also notable that the time jbcarioca was referencing was on the edge of the arrival what 8?? or more wide-bodies from SA so any delay in the system is likely to cause a huge backup.

    My last two entries around midday took under 30 mins in landing/clearing the authorities/re-entering security and into the AC.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2014
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  15. GCarvalho

    GCarvalho Active Member

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    jbcarioca, I have had a similar experience at JFK as well once. Not fun. At all. However, to Problem Six, it is kind of natural the questions you got: you are a GE passenger, therefore a US Resident or a US citizen. It is not that common to have US citizens living in Brazil going through MIA that often and if you are a US Resident, as the name says, you should live in the US, not in Brazil. Not trying to be a smarta$$, but just saying the questions were not that un usual.
     
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  16. buschoi
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    buschoi Gold Member

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    I am not sure whether US citizens living in Brazil going through MIA is common, but it is very common for US citizens and residents to not live in the US. US allows dual citizenship. If one is both a US and Brazil (or other country's) citizens, they are free to live wherever they want. I have a long list of friends who have dual citizenship, have family overseas, and live overseas. They come back once or twice a year to take care of different things. The immigration and customs officers see them everyday.
     
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  17. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    I am sure jb will respond more appropriately but about a third of all Brazilian who consider themselves Brazilian-Americans live in Florida and very high percentage of those reside in and around MIami.
    AA has what? almost 10 flights a day to Brazil from MIA
     
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  18. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    This is a very basic point often misunderstood. The GE process recognizes dual citizenship by providing for the registration of passports from multiple countries and multiple US passports. The case of US citizens holding GE living abroad is so common that the reason GE gives for allowing multiple passports is so the GE eligible US person can check in in a foreign country with the foreign passport and still be recognized by GE. That works perfectly; I do it on every flight departing Brazil for the US, simply because I cannot leave Brazil on a foreign passport nor enter the US on a foreign passport. A large mode of premium passengers on AA GIG-MIA (my specific
    case) who hold multiple passports. On this last flight one of the AA agents mentioned that only three passengers in Business Class were not dual citizens.


    On these points I must respectfully disagree. US citizens are very common in Brazil, so common that US Social Security and tax people visit regularly to offer US citizen services. GE is intended for people who are eligible who travel internationally often. Dual citizens travel more than non-dual citizens, of so it seems. The GE process does not address residence, simply eligibility. As for the questions? Nobody in Brazil ever has asked me why I travel so much, nor has anyone ever berated me for doing so. Frankly, the US agents in MIA are not there for any purpose than to establish legal right to enter the US. Their disdainful attitude to US citizens living elsewhere is quite obvious but oddly seems not to extend to naturalized US citizens from, say, Cuba. Most other POE have IME somewhat less disdain, but YMMV for certain.
     
  19. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Maybe not more appropriately but...I am currently buying a residence in Miami. As I search I am reminded that the vast majority of real estate people I encounter seem to be either Brazilian-American, speak Portuguese or at least understand some Portuguese. Of the residences I have so far seen, maybe 20 or so, a half dozen seem to be owned by people identified as "Brazilian". My own real estate agent is Brazilian-American, although we discovered that only when she overheard my spouse and me speaking Portuguese. Both of them do not have noticeable Brazilian accents in English. We are probably looking in Miami because it is more like a less chaotic version of Rio than it is a typical US city. Thus all the branches of Peruvian, Argentine, Brazilian and omnipresent Cuban eateries, shopping and nightspots.
     
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  20. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    I've encountered a lack of customs/arrivals forms many times. I carry at least one for USA and a few other countries as a precaution.
     
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  21. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    It's interesting to read that Gary Leff considers MIA to be #1 in a list of the 6 worst airports in the US. See:

    http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2014/08/30/worst-airports-in-the-us/
     
  22. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    gleff is a smart boy, but I agree with Joe Biden in this case. Perhaps
    gleff flies US Air or Delta.

    Oh, I do hate MIA as well, but it's not my #1. IAD is.
     

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