I’ve never had a problem with airport security or customs (I probably just jinxed myself). I’ve even had a couple of amusing encounters, like when I came back from studying abroad in London and the customs officer at JFK waved me through because I was wearing a Devils jersey–apparently he took a lot for being a Devils fan in New York.
On my way to Halifax, I departed through Terminal A at Newark, a terminal I don’t remember ever being in. I arrived at security to find three people in line. A very friendly officer greeted me–he even said that Terminal A was the best for security check, even if you have to take a shuttle bus to another terminal. Unfortunately, my gate was in Terminal A, which as I discovered has almost nothing. It’s definitely the most boring terminal at Newark. With plenty of time to kill before my flight, I had an overpriced coffee and read a book among the noise of other passengers.
When I arrived in Halifax, the airport was empty. We all breezed through immigration and on to customs. I was singled out, probably because I had no checked luggage, and taken to the side for a thorough check. I’ve heard horror stories of people having their bags checked by customs, but this was the first time for me.
I was pleasantly surprised that the customs officer was very friendly. He asked polite questions along with the general questions of why I was visiting Halifax, where I was staying, etc. He unpacked my small carry-on suitcase, and even repacked it. (Note to US TSA and Customs, this is how to gain respect from passengers.) In all, the inconvenience of the customs check took about 10 minutes.
On the way back from Halifax, I was surprised to find US Customs at the airport. Apparently, they do a pre-check in Canada to expedite the process upon arrival. Unfortunately, after going through security and getting up the customs counter, I was told I wasn’t supposed to be there. Turns out, because my flight departed after 7 pm, I couldn’t take advantage of this process. The United ticket counter forgot to tell me; they apologized.
I was pointed in the direction of another security line that was significantly longer. After waiting in line for a few minutes, an airport rep asked for anyone on my flight to move into another line and go ahead of everyone else, even though I still had almost two hours before my flight. I joked with security that this was my second security check at the airport today. They thought it was funny and promised to make it as painless as possible.
The pain came when I arrived at Newark and had to walk through customs again. It was a much longer wait than in Halifax (mostly because I chose the wrong line), but I was fortunate enough to have another friendly agent who made the process easy.