Go Back   > > >
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Aug 23, 17, 11:02 pm   #1
Original Poster
  
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 158
who's requiring airlines to ask US green card holders personal questions at check-in?

(I waited until I heard from two more people before posting this question, just to rule out the possibility that was a random act of a rogue airline agent )

My co-worker and I were checking in for our flight from Switzerland back to the US. I am a US citizen. She is a British citizen who has been a US green card holder for about 20 years, residing in the Bay area.

The agent gave me back my US passport and boarding pass without asking any questions. He then asked my co-worker a bunch of immigration related personal questions. This is how I remember them:

1. What is your occupation?

2. Where is that company located?

3. How long have your worked for them?

4. What was your area of expertise at your job?

5. Are you married?

6. How long have been out of the US?

My co-worker, a well-seasoned int'l traveler, was dumbfounded because no airline employee has ever asked her such questions. The airline agent apologized and said "the computer required to ask me the questions" !!!??? My co-worker was a good sport and just answered them. The airline agent seemed very apologetic and thanked her for answering the questions while she entered the answers into the computer.

I became nosy and asked her "who is asking these questions? the US government or United Airlines?" and she said "I couldn't say"(not sure if she meant couldn't or wouldn't).

The flight was uneventful and when we landed, my co-worker was not asked any other questions, other than the usual CBP chit-chat. She went through faster than I did because the CBP agent who scanned my US passport probably failed typing in high school?(typing with two index fingers only)

Like I stated at the top of this post, I asked another friend and a former co-worker, both green card holders, to see if they've ever experienced anything like this. Apparently they both have. One was NH at at Narita and the other one LH at Munich. The friend is Australian and the former co-worker is German. They said they got asked similar questions by airline check-in agents within the last 3 months, but NEVER experienced such questioning in the dozen+ years they've lived in the US as green card holders.

So... what has changed and what U.S. agency is making those US and foreign airline check-in agents to ask the question? What is the purpose of such questions?
MrWilliamston is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 24, 17, 3:42 am   #2
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
  
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Watchlisted by the prejudiced, en route to purgatory
Programs: Just Say No to Fleecing and Blacklisting
Posts: 83,960
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrWilliamston View Post
(I waited until I heard from two more people before posting this question, just to rule out the possibility that was a random act of a rogue airline agent )

My co-worker and I were checking in for our flight from Switzerland back to the US. I am a US citizen. She is a British citizen who has been a US green card holder for about 20 years, residing in the Bay area.

The agent gave me back my US passport and boarding pass without asking any questions. He then asked my co-worker a bunch of immigration related personal questions. This is how I remember them:

1. What is your occupation?

2. Where is that company located?

3. How long have your worked for them?

4. What was your area of expertise at your job?

5. Are you married?

6. How long have been out of the US?

My co-worker, a well-seasoned int'l traveler, was dumbfounded because no airline employee has ever asked her such questions. The airline agent apologized and said "the computer required to ask me the questions" !!!??? My co-worker was a good sport and just answered them. The airline agent seemed very apologetic and thanked her for answering the questions while she entered the answers into the computer.

I became nosy and asked her "who is asking these questions? the US government or United Airlines?" and she said "I couldn't say"(not sure if she meant couldn't or wouldn't).

The flight was uneventful and when we landed, my co-worker was not asked any other questions, other than the usual CBP chit-chat. She went through faster than I did because the CBP agent who scanned my US passport probably failed typing in high school?(typing with two index fingers only)

Like I stated at the top of this post, I asked another friend and a former co-worker, both green card holders, to see if they've ever experienced anything like this. Apparently they both have. One was NH at at Narita and the other one LH at Munich. The friend is Australian and the former co-worker is German. They said they got asked similar questions by airline check-in agents within the last 3 months, but NEVER experienced such questioning in the dozen+ years they've lived in the US as green card holders.

So... what has changed and what U.S. agency is making those US and foreign airline check-in agents to ask the question? What is the purpose of such questions?
The airlines are being required by the US Government to have this done; and for the most part they use US DHS-approved "security" contractors to do these interrogations. The USG requirements put upon the airlines serving the US vary somewhat by airline and port.

This kind of approach has been going on well before the current US President was elected. I saw this exact same kind of stuff happening at ZRH at this time in 2016 for flights headed to the US even on LX.
GUWonder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 24, 17, 6:32 am   #3
Original Poster
  
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
The airlines are being required by the US Government to have this done; and for the most part they use US DHS-approved "security" contractors to do these interrogations. The USG requirements put upon the airlines serving the US vary somewhat by airline and port.

This kind of approach has been going on well before the current US President was elected. I saw this exact same kind of stuff happening at ZRH at this time in 2016 for flights headed to the US even on LX.
That makes sense... however, I wonder why my friend and co-workers who have been green card holders for 7 to 20+ years have never been asked such questions when they go overseas and check-in for their return back to the US? They travel a lot, at least 8 or more TATL or TPAC trips a year, according to them.(one of them does almost 200k BIS miles a year just on TATL flights)

Edit: I can't believe they all got "lucky" within the last few months and got asked those questions at foreign airports when checking in for US-bound flights all of a sudden. (not after so many years of never experiencing it)

Last edited by MrWilliamston; Aug 24, 17 at 7:11 am
MrWilliamston is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 24, 17, 11:15 am   #4
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
  
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Watchlisted by the prejudiced, en route to purgatory
Programs: Just Say No to Fleecing and Blacklisting
Posts: 83,960
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrWilliamston View Post
That makes sense... however, I wonder why my friend and co-workers who have been green card holders for 7 to 20+ years have never been asked such questions when they go overseas and check-in for their return back to the US? They travel a lot, at least 8 or more TATL or TPAC trips a year, according to them.(one of them does almost 200k BIS miles a year just on TATL flights)

Edit: I can't believe they all got "lucky" within the last few months and got asked those questions at foreign airports when checking in for US-bound flights all of a sudden. (not after so many years of never experiencing it)
The more frequently a person uses a given airline and its loyalty program for the flown flights, and the more routine a very frequent flying person's flight history is with the airline and its security contractor, the more likely the person is to get a less intense grilling than a person with say a couple of TATL trips a year but spread out on different carriers and to/from different cities.
GUWonder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 24, 17, 6:22 pm   #5
  
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: YVR | SEA
Programs: BAEC Silver, DL GM, AA Plat, NEXUS
Posts: 332
I've had a GC for 8 years now and even before Trump took office I got this same set of questions twice when flying AA out of MAD and CDG.

Nothing to worry about just classic US fear mongering questioning.
redadeco is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 25, 17, 8:11 am   #6
Original Poster
  
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by redadeco View Post
I've had a GC for 8 years now and even before Trump took office I got this same set of questions twice when flying AA out of MAD and CDG.

Nothing to worry about just classic US fear mongering questioning.
Interesting... I guess my friends just got "lucky" and were never questioned in the previous 7 to 20 years. Or perhaps it also depended on which foreign airports they were checking in at.(Switzerland, Japan, Germany)
MrWilliamston is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 25, 17, 11:29 am   #7
FlyerTalk Evangelist
SPG Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
  
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: SEA
Programs: AS - Gold; B6 - Mosaic; HHonors - Diamond; IHG - Spire; SPG - Platinum; Marriott - Platinum
Posts: 11,035
Last year, on a U S passport I had a series of questions at Barcelona, done at the checkin desk; when I expressed some impatience, the agent replied "Don't blame me, your government requires this." I wouldn't say they were personal exactly, but there were a lot of them. Departing Iceland this month there was none of that at all.
Points Scrounger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 25, 17, 1:25 pm   #8
Original Poster
  
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by Points Scrounger View Post
Last year, on a U S passport I had a series of questions at Barcelona, done at the checkin desk; when I expressed some impatience, the agent replied "Don't blame me, your government requires this." I wouldn't say they were personal exactly, but there were a lot of them. Departing Iceland this month there was none of that at all.
Now... if a US citizen or green card holder answers the "wrong" kind of answer, what will happen? Denied boarding? Or worse... added to the no-fly list?
MrWilliamston is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 25, 17, 2:11 pm   #9
Moderator: Travel Safety/Security, Travel Tools, California, Los Angeles
  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: VNY | BUR | LAX
Programs: AAdvantage | MileagePlus
Posts: 8,445
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrWilliamston View Post
Now... if a US citizen or green card holder answers the "wrong" kind of answer, what will happen? Denied boarding? Or worse... added to the no-fly list?
Most likely selected for SSSS (Secondary Security Screening Selection) treatment.
TWA884 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 25, 17, 2:20 pm   #10
Original Poster
  
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by TWA884 View Post
Most likely selected for SSSS (Secondary Security Screening Selection) treatment.
Up until about 2006, I honestly thought SSSS meant schutz staffel security screening. (yes, I was THAT stupid)
MrWilliamston is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 25, 17, 11:32 pm   #11
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
  
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Watchlisted by the prejudiced, en route to purgatory
Programs: Just Say No to Fleecing and Blacklisting
Posts: 83,960
Quote:
Originally Posted by TWA884 View Post
Most likely selected for SSSS (Secondary Security Screening Selection) treatment.
Most likely: nothing but more questions until being cleared to board like most others on the same flight.

HaraSSSSment treatment arising from such "answers with the 'wrong' kind of answer" is unlikely.
GUWonder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 26, 17, 3:30 pm   #12
  
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: NYS
Programs: NPR
Posts: 1,016
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrWilliamston View Post
Up until about 2006, I honestly thought SSSS meant schutz staffel security screening.
Hush! That's supposed to be a secret.
kochleffel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 26, 17, 7:18 pm   #13
  
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Programs: MileagePlus 1K, Committee to Re-Elect the President
Posts: 2,099
Nothing terribly new.

The US carriers have had this in place since at least the 80s for flights from Europe and South America.

There is an illusion that these agents work for the US government (immigration or TSA). They do not. These are contracted employees from companies like Swissport, ICTS, Securicor, etc.

The first interview is prior to check in. Although there are security-related questions, that interview also serves to ensure that the passenger and his or her documents meet the requirements to enter the United States.

The second interview is prior to boarding. It is much shorter, and it is strictly related to security.

Even with their computerized systems--laptops and scanners--one of my relatives entered the United States on an expired visa multiple times. (She passed away, so nobody can come after me for writing that.)

In my experience, Air France, Finnair, Lufthansa, and other large, European carriers simply look at the immigration side of things, foregoing security questions. They also tend to limit this to a single interview (Air France prior to check-in, Lufthansa at the entrance to the Z gates in Frankfurt, etc.)

The SSSS sometimes leads to more questions, but I think it usually just leads to some form of additional hand luggage inspection. In some airports, it means a detailed frisking. And--in the most extreme case (Keflavik)--going to a separate facility to be inspected, questioned, and frisked.

I have been asked no questions at when flying European carriers. The US carriers always go through some form of routine, ranging from pro forma to over-the-top and offensive.

In another thread, we were discussing bizarre and intrusive questions. I had only encountered these on American Airlines, but others corrected me: it's on other US carriers as well.

"It's your government" is a lousy answer. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Richard Reid went through the same series of document inspections and interviews. Although nobody was hurt, the system clearly did nothing to protect the passengers and crew.

The US government insists upon these procedures, and has been unyielding in its belief that they protect anyone. I guess it's a job creation program for the security contractors.
Mats is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 28, 17, 10:33 pm   #14
  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: LAS
Programs: Hilton Diamond, Hyatt Platinum, IHG Spire Ambassador
Posts: 2,231
I don't think this had anything to do with green card v. citizen.

I'm a US citizen. Sometimes I get this grilling returning from Europe. Sometimes they skip me and grill someone else.
jphripjah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 29, 17, 9:42 pm   #15
  
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Canada
Programs: BA Gold (OWE), Star Alliance Gold, Club Carlson Gold, Hilton Diamond, Starwood Gold,Club Accor Conci
Posts: 1,938
It's worth pointing out they sometimes have this on flights to Canada as well (but it seems to be random if they do it or not)
reclusive46 is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply


Bookmarks

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

Forum Jump
Contact Us - FlyerTalk - Archive - Top