The wonders of this little island does not cease to amaze me. Traveling on the Taiwan High Speed Rail is a true marvel of technology and ingenuity. The planners have gone so far as to install a China Airlines Baggage Check In Counter at the Taoyuan HSR Station. Check your luggage in here and it follows to your destination. You get on the bus to the airport without the hassle of dragging luggage behind you. How convenient is that?
Check in at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei is extremely efficient, comfortable, and courteous. The attendants pay special attention to body language and gestures. They really give 100% attention to that passenger in front of them. Very classy hospitality.
On the way from the US, the crew of China Airlines was very efficient and cordial. I was expecting the same on the return. However, I was surprised to see cracks in the service. Maybe because the bar was set so high. The same smooth flawlessness was a little lacking. On several occasions the food cart ran out of an item. The attendants asked passengers to help them, when it should be the other way around. Overall, still good.
Arriving at Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport was bitter sweet. It was not the most pleasant welcome back to the homeland. Maybe I missed it but there are no restrooms between the airplane and customs. Retrieving our luggage was uneventful. There are free luggage carts available. Then we got in the customs line. Apparently, there are certain unposted “rules”, or maybe then again I did not not see any.
There are special lines for certain Customs and Border Protection Officers. We were behind an Asian gentleman who walked up to an officer who in a very loud voice said, “This is the handicapped line, go back.” Another officer, at another post yelled at the gentleman, “Go to the back of the line.” The gentleman looked around puzzled. He did not speak English! So as we got to our officer I told the next officer that the gentleman was ahead of us and should not go to the back of the long line, because he did not know that he went up to the handicapped line. He looked at me in disgust and motioned for the gentleman to come over.
My travel companion and I walked up to the officer to get checked. His question was, “Do you have any food in your bags.” I replied, “No, just a whole lotta clothes.” With the same disgust and dismissive attitude as his counter part he shock his head and marked on our form. Then suddenly, he looked at us and said, in a very stern voice, “Do you see any two people coming up to the check point? In the future, one at a time!” I was stunned. Does this warrant a spanking? Wouldn’t a calm professional tone, even a friendly informative tone suffice? Is this the first impression foreigners get from our airport personnel? Poor showing.
I am not personally offended by the actions of these officers. I also understand that in their line of work there are very stressful circumstances. Everyone has an off day. But three officers all at the same time? If there were clearly posted guidelines, or ushers to guide people where to go and how to act this situation might go smoother. I am somewhat disappointed and ashamed that this is the first impression someone gets of this mighty country of ours. Having just travelled to Taiwan and experience the kind generosity of the airline and airport staff, I can say that CBP at LAX can be a little more professional to visitors.