Tuesday, August 2, 2011
When you are a passenger on a flight, or boat, and travel into a different Country, you need to clear their Immigration Control checkpoints. There, the Immigration officer would input your data into a system to check to make sure you aren't an International fugitive, and that you are OK to be in their Country.
Now that I'm an International Flight Attendant, I'm noticing that when you are a crew member, there are some Countries that require you to clear through the normal route, and others that don't check your passport just as long as you were on a 'GenDecs' form that has Cargo Documents and Crew names. The only problem is, as being a new International Flight Attendant...along with being a Purser, there is a LOT to learn. Some countries require you to hand over all the documents to the agents before passengers disembark, others require you to keep a few copies so when you go through different checkpoints, you hand over a document to an Immigration Officer.
Some countries require only a Passport, some require a number of forms that can be from just 1 form to 3 or even 4 forms. I know when you travel into Mexico as a visitor (as well as coming into the United States as a visitor) you are given a 'visitor' card that you must keep with you in case you are stopped by authorities to show you are authorized to be in the country. When you leave, you hand in the form.
Depending on what city you are arriving to, and how many flights are arriving at the same time, you can either clear customs rather quickly, or it can be a painstakingly long wait to clear customs. Often times, the names have to be correct on the form, or otherwise it might be a little difficult for that crew member to pass through security (LOL)
I just wish there was a way to know, before hand, which country requires what. Thankfully I've been very fortunate and have had some great crews who have been to the places I have been to so far and know what is required and/or needed. Requirements do change often within certain time frames, but it would still be good to know before you're caught off guard of what is needed.
Another item that would be good is to know what cities/layovers have to offer, but I guess I'll have to save that for another blog posting!