The queue to rival tirupathi

I was going to San Francisco, US - my first US trip in 3 years.  My last one was to LA in Jan 2009.  I was also flying Emirates for the first time - transiting via Dubai.

My flight was at 4.15 AM on Sun, 19 Aug, which meant, my Saturday sleep was screwed.  I had reached Bangalore Airport by 12.15 AM and managed to keep myself awake - first 45 min courtesy free Airport wi-fi and another 45 reading.   This meant, by the time, the flight left, I was zapped.

The flight to Dubai was quite short and included a meal, which I could barely recall eating.  The transit time was short and this meant I was in another flight in less than two hours.   By the way, Dubai Airport did not have a free wi-fi.  The Dubai-SFO flight duration was 15 hours - can you imagine!   Economy class tickets meant you could just about lean back.  Luckily my travel agent managed to get me an aisle seat and my fellow passengers did not get too many calls from nature.

The Emirates flight is good - the in-flight entertainment in the Dubai-SFO flight is amazing - the sheer number and variety of On Demand movies - about 200 of them, if I am not wrong.  I got to watch Sherlock Holmes - a Game of Shadows, The Tower Heist and Mirror Mirror, while dozing in bits and pieces.  The food was decent as well.

But I never expected the kind of reception that I would get on landing in San Francisco.  Barely had we stepped out of the aircraft when we were accosted by a long queue - for the Immigration.   Our flight landed at 1 PM and in retrospect, I guess I had the misfortune of being in the last seat of the aircraft (and consequently the last to disembark and the last in the queue).  Ours was not the only flight to have landed and we were part of about 2000 people waiting to clear Immigration.  It was 3 PM when my turn came and I realized that even my last darshan in Tirupathi was a breeze in comparison.   I could not think why SFO Airport could not request airlines to stagger their arrivals, rather than force passengers to go through the arduous wait.  Or they could be seated in their flight till their turn came.  Even better, some of the formalities could be completed in flight.

US citizens have separate counters which are less crowded.  I sympathize with the frequent US travellers (who are non-citizens) if they have to bear this each time.  First and Business Class does not get any preferential treatment in this queue (except I guess, they could be ahead  of the economy folks in the queue of the same airline)

By the way, I could not connect to the SFO Airport Wi-Fi - Gateway Timeout.  Feel good that Bangalore scored better in this than other airports.

Anyway, it was close to 4 PM when I reached my hotel - which would be 4.30 AM in India.