(Un)welcome to the United States

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

The Moodie Report is in New York. But for a long time on Sunday night that was in name only.

Entering this great city via Newark Liberty Airport is ready-made confirmation that elements of the airport community still treat their passengers (who are customers, remember) as cattle.

My heart sank as I entered the check-in hall after an eight-hour flight from London to be faced by one of the longest immigration queues I have seen.

There was just a single line, around eight layers deep, and it moved at roughly the pace of a sloth that has been tranquilised, had its legs bound together and been told to climb an iceberg.  And that was before the lottery of which officer’s queue you were ultimately assigned to once you reached the end of the line.

48 minutes after entering the hall, I was assigned to Mata’s queue . With only three people ahead of me, salvation surely, was in sight. Not if Mata could help it.

Mata felt it important to give each and every item of cattle (sorry, passenger) the third degree. No smile, just sullen, aggressive challenging. And all conducted at the pace that a pre-global warming glacier melts. Eventually I and all those behind me simply gave up on Mata and switched to another queue that was handled quickly and welcomely by a nice man called Francis. I fear the poor lady in front of me may still be there…

Mata’s in the wrong job. If there is a post going somewhere in New York City for someone to hold up traffic, she should apply. There would be no better candidate.

And maybe Newark Liberty Airport is in the wrong business. The queues in the cavernous check-in hall reminded me of countless film scenes of Ellis Island – the symbol of the American immigration experience. Ellis Island closed in 1954 but its spirit lives on at Newark Liberty.

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  • Unfortunate Martin, and if you can believe it LAX Bradley can be even worse – icluding the “priority” American queue. Best US entries I’ve found over the years is SFO, HNL and JFK T-4. Newark is all about arrival timing, the SQ nonstop flight arrives when the immigration hall is usually empty. At least the worst of any US visit is over after you finally make it past immigration!