This is an open-ended blog ranging from news about my latest gigs and publications
to ruminations about politics, world affairs, culture and whatever piques my interest—or ire.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Got back to New Orleans late last night after a harrowing trip from Paris. The transatlantic flight was flawless, but on arrival at Washington's Dulles airport, the nightmare began. First, there was about a half-mile walk down a narrow corridor from the plane to the immigration area--no escalators, no courtesy cars, no pushcarts, no automatic sidewalks. After a cheek-by-jowl creep down the steps, we reached the bedlam of the arrival hall, filled by a serpentine line of probably a thousand travellers. Time from arrival to immigration control officer: 90 minutes. After collecting and transferring our baggage for the connecting flight, we hit another bottleneck at the security line. Time to clear security (which we had already done leaving Paris, by the way): 45 minutes. The walk (jog) to our departure gate, another half mile away from security, took 15 minutes. Not surprising that, after nearly 3 hours since landing in D.C., we missed our connecting flight to New Orleans. The United customer service desk re-routed us through Dallas-Fort Worth and we finally got home around midnight, nearly 24 hours after leaving Paris. We were not alone: from talking to folks in line, it was clear that hundreds of folks missed connecting flights because of the pathetic organization of this airport--the entry portal into the U.S. for millions of foreign visitors each year. I have had similarly horrific experiences at Dulles before, so I wouldn't ascribe this one to the government shutdown that, we are told, did not affect air traffic controllers, airport security personnel, customs or immigration police. It's just poor organization and inadequate infrastructure. I've been to airports in the Third World what were more efficient than this one. Was Ellis Island this bad?

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