Coming back to the US has been our worst travel experience to date. But…. it still sure beats going to work.
Lessons learned flying from Lima, Peru to Seattle, WA via Toronto.
1. When entering Peru, check your tourist visa’s days. On entry we were told we had 90 days, but it was really 30 and scribbled illegibly in our passports. Fine assessed for visa overstay on leaving, $275 payable only in US $ and in cash. Total scam.
2. Flying to the US through Toronto, you now go through US Customs and Immigration in Toronto – before your flight into the US. This means lots of added time, you won’t make a tight connection… took us 2 hours to go from deplaning, though customs and immigration, back through security, and finally to the gate for the flight to Seattle…we had to hustle to make it just at the scheduled boarding time – so much for dinner. It ended up being a couple hours or so delayed, but with no announced departure time, we couldn’t leave the gate to go back to the restaurants.
3. Flying to the US through a connecting flight, you have to go through security again (not new), but they don’t allow duty-free liquor through that secondary security check. So don’t buy duty-free liquor coming to the US if you have a connection. The US is the only country to have this policy, per the security guy in Toronto. They do allow an option to check it in baggage, but you’ll have to put in in your carry-on, check it and hope it doesn’t break – our bottle of Pisco from Peru didn’t break – small miracles.
4. Embraer 190 is the plane that Air Canada flies between Toronto and SEA, has only 1 bathroom for 86 people in cattle class on a 5 hour flight… and it’s in the galley. Neither passengers nor flight attendants like this arrangement.
5. Air Canada considers Canada part of USA. They call it a “trans-border” flight, not an international flight, which means no free food, wine, nor beer.
I think we may have gotten a bit spoiled travelling outside of US, with kids – or perhaps it was The Mayor’s, our youngest son’s, big smile and wave (which is how he got his nickname in the first-place). We were always escorted to the priority lines for immigration, security, and boarding – no matter the airline, no matter the country. Extremely helpful flight attendants, and always a free beer or wine during the flight…
Like I said, even after a tough day… traveling sure beats sitting in an office, but I still don’t see why North American airliners can’t be a little more customer service oriented…
- Best Airlines for Families – US News, notice none of these are based in North America
- Which airlines are the Best and worst for families? – Reader poll of US airlines.
- Momaboard’s Best and Worst Airlines for Family Travel – Reader stories about their experiences.