It is not clear why a US official was even at the gate of my flight from Amsterdam Schiphol to Los Angeles on KLM, but her rude demeanor and shrill tone in questioning my wife over her green card was not appreciated.
US Official At Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Hassles My Wife While Boarding Flight To LAX
I did not want to bog down my KLM flight review with this side story, but I’m really wondering why the United States places its worst agents in people-facing roles at major ports of entry. Why is it that US officials, whether oversees or at home, get away with being so rude compared to their counterparts in other developed countries around the world (with the exception, perhaps, of Canada)?
As I approached the jet bridge to board our flight, a KLM gate agent took our boarding passes and passports, scanning our boarding passes as she checked our passport photo pages. A woman in a gray pants suit was looking on and grabbed my wife’s German passport and leafed through it. She then typed something on her computer and barked out:
“I need to see your green card.”
I am not exaggerating when I say that her tone was that of a mother who catches her son with his hands in the cookie jar. She had a scowl on her face and barked out the order.
As Heidi was looking for it in her wallet, I stated, “This was just checked during check-in. Why is it needed again?”
The US official instantly snapped, “We can check it as often as we want. You are required to produce it when we ask for it. Is there going to be a problem?”
That made me wonder whether she was a former flight attendant…
Looking at the card, she asked my wife, “What are you doing in the United States?”
Rather incredulously, Heidi looked at her and said, “Living with my husband and two kids.”
We were all standing together.
She typed away for awhile on her computer and then without another word handed the passports back to us.
I couldn’t help myself, asking, “Was that really necessary?”
She responded, “Excuse me, I work for the US government.”
I responded, “What a surprise. That was an easy guess,” to which she responded, “Well you’re so clever.”
And with that, we boarded the flight.
Certainly, US officials are entitled to verify that my wife has legal authority to travel to the United Sates. But there is a right way and wrong way to do it. Checking documents like green cards is one thing, but barking orders and asking stupid questions is quite another. I desperately wish the United Sates took more seriously how inhospitable its agents treat visitors and permanent residents (and often citizens too). There is no excuse for such poor customer service.