I’ve seen some bad immigration lines in the USA before, but never anything as horrific as what I saw at San Francisco International Airport last week.
It was Saturday afternoon and my wife, son, and I had landed at SFO at about 4:30 PM. As we stepped off the jet bridge and into the arrivals hall, I noticed a crowd in the distance. At first, I assumed it was just a gaggle of people walking toward the immigration facility.
But as I got closer, I saw that this was the line. And it was not moving…
Passengers were clearly agitated, with some on the phone trying to reschedule their connecting flights and others simply taking pictures.
Of course, ground staff were barking orders at them and being generally unhelpful.
As it turned out, this was the line for foreign visitors. The line for U.S. Citizens was much shorter (Global Entry kiosks were totally empty).
I asked, just curious, why the lines were so long. Were there unexpected personnel absences? Underfunding? Because I had never seen the lines that bad.
“This is the way it always is in the afternoon,” said one immigration agent.
Whatever your political persuasion, these are people coming to the United States to visit family or friends and spend money. We should be ashamed of the third-world immigration facilities we offer at leading international gateways. No one should have to wait several hours to get through an immigration line…
I know the United States is not alone in forcing arriving international guests to wait in long queues. I’ve been stuck in the United Kingdom, China and Australia before as well. But this is in my country and my state. I am so embarrassed.
You can check current waiting time for SFO immigration lines here. If you’re traveling through SFO, good luck…