Coming to America

Calgary on Sunday is quiet. Although still cold, the sun is now shining crisply as the taxi drops us off at the airport.

Self-service check-in takes quite a while – there are a lot of screens to plough through.

We make our way to the USA embarkation area where there is another lot of paperwork. I thought we had done all this on-line a couple of months ago. Ah well.

Our checked bags go off for x-ray and we go through the security screening for passengers and carry-on bags. Most of the officers are Canadian. They are cheerful but thorough.

The American immigration officer is polite but firm as we register our fingerprints and stare into the web cam. Is it a photo or a retina scan? I never find out.

It all takes a fair amount of time, and everything is done very carefully and deliberately. What we don’t realise at the time is that we don’t have to go through all the entry formalities again when we land in the USA. That was it.

We grab a sandwich and cup of tea from one of the snack bars in the departure hall while waiting for the boarding call.

Part of the security arrangements is that the incoming flight leaves the USA and arrives in Canada as a domestic flight. When the passengers have disembarked and left the arrivals area, the various doors and wall panels are re-configured so that boarding gate becomes part of the international departure area and the aircraft departs as an international flight to the USA.

Our plane is neat Embrauer 190 and we have a smooth flight to Newark in New Jersey. We go straight through Arrivals with no further formalities.

We are in America.

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