Phoenix, Arizona — July 21, 2016

 I made it back yesterday, minus my checked luggage, but this time it was my fault that my luggage didn’t arrive with me. From Madrid I flew to Washington Dulles Airport. From there, I was scheduled to take two planes, one to Chicago and a second plane from Chicago to Phoenix. However, I talked the gate agent in Washington into re-booking me onto a direct flight to Phoenix. He warned me that it was too late to reroute my luggage, but I didn’t care if my suitcase made it with me or not. I was dead tired and glad to get to Phoenix two and a half hours earlier than I otherwise would have. This morning I went to the airport and picked up my suitcase, which had arrived during the night.

The bad experience was Washington-Dulles Airport itself. I was using the Mobile Passport app on my Android phone, which was supposed to shorten time at immigration. Indeed there were signs in the airport pointing to a “special” Mobile Passport lane, but the signs pointed to the same lane to which all other US and Canadian citizens were directed. The app saved me no time whatsoever. The “special” Mobile Passport Lane was the just the regular immigration lane.

At customs I again showed my Mobile Passport App, which the customs agents seemed unfamiliar with. I was asked for my customs declaration slip. Then one of them remembered that with the Mobile Passport App, everything was done electronically, and there was no declaration slip, so they let me through.

After Customs Control came the TSA Security check. At least I would get through this faster. I had TSA Precheck status, which is supposed to give one access to a special lane plus special privileges such as not having to remove shoes and belt and going through a metal detector instead of a body scan. I was quite clearly told “We don’t honor TSA Precheck!” So, I went through a very through security check including a pat-down and body scan while the TSA agent let about another dozen people pass rapidly one after another through the metal detector. For some reason, the TSA agent picked me for special screening, even though I am 73 years old and had TSA Precheck status. I suspect that I had been pre-screened for security was what caused him to give me an extra time-consuming security check.

I know it sounds as if I am whining, (and I am, of course), but I was dead tired even by the time I reached Washington and not dealing well with the fact that immigration and security agents were making the process more difficult than it was supposed to be.

By the time I arrived at Phoenix, I was groggy from lack of sleep and probably acting drunk. However, after six hours sleep, I do feel better today. I must also say that the United Airlines luggage people in Phoenix were very helpful about holding my suitcase for me. When I woke up this morning, I found a voicemail left at 12:25 this morning telling me that my suitcase had arrived and that I could pick it up at my convenience. When I arrived to pick it up this morning, there was even a note attached to it explaining to the other agents that I had made arrangements to pick up the suitcase.

Sorry, no pictures today.