What happened with the promised “green lane” for customs at Owen Roberts International Airport, which was supposed to operate like Miami and Heathrow, where passengers with nothing to declare can just walk through?
I arrived on American Airlines at 8:20 p.m. Thursday night (Feb. 9) and there was a delayed flight arrived just ahead of us. Immigration was severely undermanned; some 400 to 500 passengers were lined up stretching back to the tarmac outside.
Although I was first off the plane, it took me almost an hour to clear immigration (I’m a resident). On reaching the customs hall, there were some 200 passengers lined up in front of only two customs inspectors, and incredibly one of them was opening the bags of almost every passenger and the other was almost as slow. These individuals were seemingly completely oblivious not only of the long lines but also of the fact that these same passengers had already been in line for an hour or longer at immigration.
It took me a further 50 minutes to clear customs, and, as mentioned, I was first off my flight.
Almost all the passengers on American Airlines were tourists, so what sort of impression are we creating for these poor people on arrival? Why search so many of them; they are aware of the customs system in Miami and the enhanced immigration procedures there. I had originated in London, transiting in Miami, and from leaving the plane at the gate in Miami, taking the sky train to immigration, clearing immigration and customs and also security to the departure area, took me 25 minutes.
This simply is not good enough and is not the way to encourage more tourists to visit these islands. I tried calling Customs in an effort to advise senior management of this debacle, but the operator extension was answered by voicemail, requesting me to leave my name and number. This I did on Thursday but as of today my call has not been returned.