EZE Observations

 
Old Jul 7, 06, 3:12 pm
  #1  
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EZE Observations

I just finished my first visit to EZE and am sitting at the Admirals Club awaiting my flight to DFW. I just was amused by the idiotic security procedures that I witnessed as I checked in, and I thought I would see if anybody else agreed that they were unnecessary.

(I'm sure the security procedures are even crazier at FRA and other European airports, and definitely much more insane at CCS and BOG, but I mention my experience at EZE simply because it seems that the procedures are a lot of busy work, yet the security screening itself is somewhat cursory.)

So, I arrived at EZE around 4:30 with about half an hour to go before check-in opened for the evening AA flights. There were at least two dozen security people hanging around the counters that eventually would become AA's check-in positions. They started setting up a whole bunch of screening tables, podia, and the poles with retractable ropes for making lines. Then, they got out those big checked baggage restriction signs and used clear tape to attach them to the side of the check-in positions.

Finally, around 5pm, I approached one of the security people (still no sign of any AA personnel) and asked where Business Class check-in was. He said I should go to the left and wait before the first podium. So I did. Finally, one lone AA TA appeared and sat behind one of the check-in positions. Three (3) separate agents approached me and asked me my last name and where I was traveling! 3 different agents! They just asked and then went away. It was very unusual! Why would a security agent care what my itinerary was?

So finally a guy showed up to the podium in front of me and beckoned. I presented my passport and itin/receipt. Just at that moment, another security guy walked up and handed the guy a COPY OF MY ITINERARY, printed on an AA dot-matrix printer. I was really surprised! So I looked over to my right, and the security people had set up a table with large colored boxes, labeled with the flight numbers (most in the 900s) of the flights departing tonight. And they were full of printed itineraries! There were a bunch of women who were madly sorting them, pulling out itineraries, and handing them to the "runner" agents, who then would deliver them to the podium security people. The security guy in front of me asked those stupid security questions that we used to get in the U.S. (did I pack my bags myself? etc.) and then he stamped the itinerary and gave it to me with my passport. Only then was I allowed to proceed to the TA to get my BP.

Now, I have NEVER seen such a crazy security run-around/circus in my life. I interacted with no less than 5 security people (contractors) before I made contact with the first AA agent. How much money is AA spending keeping this carnival going?

The ironic thing is that airport security itself was MUCH easier than the TSA and almost comical after such lengthy pre-check-in procedures. Just a simple metal detector/X-ray, no shoe/laptop removal, the guy was barely watching the monitor, exit immigration, etc.

So here are my points/questions:

1) Why in goodness sake don't they just leave the tables, ropes/poles, and signs in place all the time? I really doubt that any other airline has a need for 18 check-in desks at that end of the terminal during the off-hours! They must go through a lot of tape and waste a lot of man-hours just setting up and taking down this stuff.

2) Why for the love of God do they print every single traveler's itinerary just to stamp it and collect it at departure? We're talking about dozens of hours of labor each day to print and alphabetize, not to mention the insane amount of labor necessary to have the "runners" to bring the itineraries to the security agents at the podia. Granted, labor is cheap in Latin America, but even so! If only Arpey knew! Whatever happened to "lower costs to compete"? Furthermore, even though the paper is 100% post-consumer recycled (hopefully), it's still a LOT of paper being wasted.

[end rant]
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Old Jul 7, 06, 3:39 pm
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In general, the procedure you described sounds like AA's security set-up (and the security of all the US airlines I have seen) at all of its foreign stations. The security company you dealt with is contracted by AA. The stations I have been to printed the itinerary on boarding pass stock, but I guess EZE prefers normal paper. It doesn't sound like much of a circus - you just happened to get there when AA was still setting up, so you witnessed first hand what sorts of preparation goes into getting a check-in area ready each day.

I'm not saying I think the extra security really makes anything more secure, but it seems far from a "circus"...

As for not having ropes set up when you arrived, many airports outside the US make carriers share space. For example, before the new T4 opened at Madrid Barajas, the AA check-in became Easy Jet check-in after a certain time. The signs, ropes, placards, etc. all had to go up and come down each day. That is one reason why on AA.com you will see that some airport check-in times are so specific. AA space at MAD became EasyJet space only 15 minutes after AA check-in closed. Even if AA wanted to accept another passenger, the airport lease would not allow it.
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Old Jul 7, 06, 3:45 pm
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You are talking about EZE. I love Buenos Aires, but it is a city with some idiosyncrasies - one of the more noticeable ones is that many delusional and effete PorteŮos tend to think of themselves as "Europeans" and not Latin Americans. In the end, my dearly beloved hermanos Argentinos are as Latin as anyone else, which often means lots of employees milling around doing nothing productive, redundant checks and points of contact, and other stuff that you saw.

The last time I was in Bs As, ready to depart, EZE, there was a bomb threat. Let me tell you , if you were blown away by the everyday drama of EZE, you would have choked, spit the dummy and finally died of laughter-induced apoplexy watching the bomb squad arrive and how the entire drama panned out. I can't really describe it without taking tons of bandwidth, but it was one of the most inane, ineffective and unsafe responses to a potential UXB I have ever even imagined.

BTW, guess where they get the bomb squad from at this busy airport that has fairly regular bomb threats? Right, downtown - and they must proceed through lovely PorteŮo rush hour traffic at times...

(Lest anyone feel ready to impugn my post and say I am racist, xenophobic or whatever, I feel I'm in a pretty good place to judge, being of Latin American origin myself. Many of us do these kind of things, and more - you hire my incompetent nephew, I'll hire your jerkwater cousin, we'll forget words like "merit" and "effectiveness among ourselves, right?)
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Old Jul 7, 06, 3:47 pm
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They have the same exact "setup" in GRU - S„o Paulo, Brazil. Very annoying.
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Old Jul 7, 06, 3:56 pm
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The print out shows your form of payment, date of issue, if one way or round trip. if you pay cash or same day on a one way ticket......GOOD LUCK
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Old Jul 7, 06, 5:17 pm
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Originally Posted by densint0524
They have the same exact "setup" in GRU - S„o Paulo, Brazil. Very annoying.
Ditto MVD...I thought it was kinda comical, though. The other really ridiculous thing is having to stop and pay the departure tax, stop here, stop there, yada yada yada. Makes bailing outta Heathrow Park lane look like a dream.
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Old Jul 7, 06, 8:07 pm
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Not as annoying as SDQ where for a long time after a complete screening and passport control AA erected a second X-ray and metal detector and roped off their departure gates and then everyone went through a 2nd time. After which one then had to stay there vs. the shops, duty free etc. TSA said the SDQ screening was inadequate.
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Old Jul 7, 06, 8:23 pm
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Originally Posted by ricktoronto
TSA said the SDQ screening was inadequate.
That's like a McDonald's Fry Cook criticizing an Outback Steakhouse Chef.
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Old Jul 7, 06, 10:04 pm
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Before I leave the US, I always ask at the counter for a copy of my ticket receipt and itinerary. It has saved me a lot of hassle. For some reason, overseas stations want these and it's just easier to have it than to wait while they try to find it.
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Old Jul 8, 06, 2:25 am
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If you had arrived after the check-in areas had been setup, you wouldn't have been exposed to the "circus". It would have been the same as checking-in for an AA flight from any other international destination -- first the security agent (who retrieves a paper copy of the itinerary if the passenger is travelling on an electronic ticket) followed by the check-in agent.

Why did you arrive at the airport at 4:30 pm for a 9:25 pm departure? I am simply curious.
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Old Jul 8, 06, 8:20 am
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Originally Posted by ak
If you had arrived after the check-in areas had been setup, you wouldn't have been exposed to the "circus". It would have been the same as checking-in for an AA flight from any other international destination -- first the security agent (who retrieves a paper copy of the itinerary if the passenger is travelling on an electronic ticket) followed by the check-in agent.

Why did you arrive at the airport at 4:30 pm for a 9:25 pm departure? I am simply curious.

I wasn't aware that this was SOP, and I do travel to "international" destination (by the U.S. Government's definition of "international," not AA's). I travel frequently to Mexico and the Caribbean and have never witnessed this type of "circus." I did not witness it at SCL during my last visit last summer.

I arrived at 4:25pm because I had finished what I needed to do in the city and was pushed out of my hotel. I figured that I could spend some time browsing the duty free shops and most of the time at the AC, which I expected to be fantastic. But what a disappointment! The EZE AC's offerings are pretty limited compared to the offerings at SCL! No ice cream, no soup, no little sandwiches, very limited non-booze selection (it looked like Coke, Tonic Water, Dasani, and Sprite). No showers. WiFi kept dropping out (but luckily I had an ethernet cable with me). Rather small club considering that it handles at least double the number of pax each day that SCL handles.
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Old Jul 8, 06, 9:41 am
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The contrast between EZE/MVD and LGW was that the South American employees managed the process with a decent amount of charm and civility, unlike the dullard idiots in the UK.
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Old Jul 8, 06, 9:44 am
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Originally Posted by Swanhunter
The contrast between EZE/MVD and LGW was that the South American employees managed the process with a decent amount of charm and civility, unlike the dullard idiots in the UK.
My last experience with transit in LGW was actually fairly pleasant as we spoke with the security guys about football while waiting for an AAgent to become available at the transit desk.

The experience was unnecessary as we had our connecting boarding passes, but at least there was some interesting conversation after the usual inane "security" questions.
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Old Jul 9, 06, 7:42 pm
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EZE Airport Tax

Originally Posted by fredmartens
The other really ridiculous thing is having to stop and pay the departure tax, stop here, stop there, yada yada yada.

I have a question regarding Ezeizaís Airport Tax. I flew EZE-SCL on July 4 on LAN and upon receiving my boarding pass I was told to go upstairs to pay an airport tax. Having purchased my ticket on AA.com, I thought I had already paid the departure tax. I didnít make an issue of it and paid the $18.00 USD (55.80 Argentine Pesos). After paying no one asked to see proof that I indeed paid the airport departure tax.

I return to the United States on August 7 on AA 996, and again, I believe my ticket price includes all pertinent taxes.

My question is: will I again be asked to pay the tax when I check-in with AA? If so, why does Ezeiza have such a convoluted system of collecting taxes? Iíve never encountered this situation of paying a departure tax at an airport before, so Iím curious about their system. Thanks in advance.

Cheers,
Robert
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Old Jul 9, 06, 7:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Robert
My question is: will I again be asked to pay the tax when I check-in with AA? If so, why does Ezeiza have such a convoluted system of collecting taxes?
Yes, and I don't know.
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