Talk:Avoiding travel through the United States

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See also: Talk:Avoiding travel through the United States/Archive

Avoiding United States Airspace[edit]

I understand that the United States actually requires the passenger manifest of all flights through their airspace, and not just for flights that are actually landing in the United States. There have been instances where flying under such circumstances has not been possible owing to a name appearing on a federal watchlist.

Is this a topic that should be covered in this article? Andrewssi2 (talk) 03:59, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

Definitely. The nightmare would be someone in the position of w:Maher Arar, who is erroneously on a list of terrorists, and - rather than Arar, himself, who was dragged off when he was in transit at JFK - is on a plane that is forced to make an unscheduled stop in the US and is then dragged off to be tortured somewhere. Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:46, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that would be a pretty bad scenario. Edward Snowden's options are also limited in that apparently an aircraft carrying him could be compelled to land when traveling through US airspace.
I'll think of a section to add. Andrewssi2 (talk) 04:56, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

Article title grammar?[edit]

It seems the grammar is wrong in the title: "Avoiding a transit of the United States‎"

Should we rename to "Avoiding a transit in the United States‎" or "Avoid transiting in the United States" ? Andrewssi2 (talk) 04:38, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

I don't think the grammar is wrong. Maybe that's a difference in dialects. Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:46, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
Are you really sure? To me it really feels like the preposition is wrong. The use 'of' would suggest that the country of the United States is transiting somewhere...Andrewssi2 (talk) 04:53, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm not really sure, but it sounds better than "a transit in the US" to me, because that implies to me not that you are going across the US but that you are, say, driving (or taking a bus, or hitchhiking, etc.) from New York to San Francisco. If the title really bothers you, we can look for another expression entirely. How about "Avoiding an overflight of the United States", so that it covers both scheduled and unscheduled stopovers? Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:01, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, it doesn't bother me too much and actually first few times I didn't even notice it. It just seems like an obvious mistake (to me at least).
I'm happy to keep the subject as 'transit' since this is the most concerning scenario of the article. Andrewssi2 (talk) 05:05, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
Added some text. Feel free to add/remix Andrewssi2 (talk) 07:52, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Maher Arar?[edit]

w:Maher Arar was flying Tunisia-Canada on a Canadian passport. The US detained him at JFK, held him in solitary without a lawyer for days as an Al Qaeda suspect, then deported him to Syria where he says he was tortured.

As I see it, some travellers face a real risk of kidnapping if they transit the US, and the article should include a warning about this. I am not inclined to add it myself because I do not think I could be at all objective. Any volunteers? Pashley (talk) 22:59, 22 May 2014 (UTC)

This was part of the policy of "extraordinary rendition" directly after the 9/11 attacks. (His detention started in 2002).
I would say that this policy did not just apply to the United States. American agents did this to many people in many different countries. (Italy actually tried and convicted some CIA agents for this activity inside Italy)
You can certainly mention it, although I would say this process now has a good deal more oversight than it used to and any advice should be relevant to travelers today rather than 10 years ago. Andrewssi2 (talk) 01:31, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
I wouldn't trust any of that "oversight," especially given that with a different president, policies could change. Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:39, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
If we're going to go down this route, please make sure that any warnings are based on advice provided by non-US governments and not merely vague warnings based on a handful of news articles about terrible events that happened years ago. Our articles are at their best when they reflect realities that will be faced by travelers, and (in my opinion) while the treatment of these individuals is a national shame, it isn't something that will be an issue for (at least) 99.9999% of visitors and thus isn't something that should be elevated over more realistic concerns. -- Ryan • (talk) • 04:13, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
I seriously doubt the percentage you've offered, if you're including harassment and not just being kidnapped, sent to a dictatorship and tortured for weeks or months. I agree that if there are good official warnings that those would be best, though. Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:25, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
What would be an official warning? I'm not aware of any travel advisories issued by other countries to visit the United States.
Using the example above, it seems Canada has no official advice on this subject Andrewssi2 (talk) 04:58, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Harassment is (unfortunately) a very legitimate topic to discuss in this article, but risk of extradition and torture is what I was referring to with the 99.9999% number, and is something that would be so exceedingly rare (if even possible anymore) that I think we should only mention if we can back it up with official government warnings. -- Ryan • (talk) • 04:59, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
I disagree. I think it should be mentioned because it didn't happen that long ago and the conditions that existed then to enable it to happen (an unaccountable TSA that's a law unto itself, a secret "no fly" list, and detention of alleged terror suspects by the US outside of the civil legal system) still exist. There should be a way to mention this as an egregious case without seeming to imply that it's the rule.
In terms of travel advisories, I'd be interested to see whether India, Pakistan, or other countries with large numbers of Muslims have issued any for the US. Ikan Kekek (talk) 05:07, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
Specific warnings for US aside, Pakistan (and I think India too) do not publish traditional regular travel advisories to their citizens. --Saqib (talk) 18:45, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
That reminds me of what I believe used to be in South African passports during the days of Apartheid (this might be paraphrased or apocryphal): "This passport entitles the bearer to travel to any country at his own risk." Ikan Kekek (talk) 01:42, 24 May 2014 (UTC)
One thing to watch with "official warnings": they're subject to political interference. If North Korea were operating a Guantánamo Bay-style torture operation, it would get a Canadian warning in a heartbeat; if the US were doing so, it would not, for fear of offending a major trading partner. K7L (talk) 14:44, 1 June 2014 (UTC)

In/Through vs Of[edit]

Shouldn't the title of this article be "Avoiding (a) transit IN/THROUGH the United States"? A transit OF the United States suggests that the United States is the moving entity, does it not? The transiting one is the traveler, which must transit in or through the US, right? Shouldn't one of those be used? ChubbyWimbus (talk) 11:30, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, I think you're right. The point is to avoid changing planes in the US, so "a transit in" would do it. But perhaps other dialects of English might have a different usage. So does anyone disagree? Ikan Kekek (talk) 12:07, 8 November 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure "transit" is the right word. Avoiding travel via the US? Or even "Avoiding US air space", since there are cases like a London-Havana flight that goes near Florida where, I'm told, the US gov't gets passenger lists and their "no fly" restrictions may apply. Pashley (talk) 23:44, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
How about "Avoiding travel through the US"? Ikan Kekek (talk) 07:06, 11 November 2014 (UTC)
Sounds right to me. Pashley (talk) 11:10, 11 November 2014 (UTC)
Anyone else? If we can agree on this, we should change the name within 24-48 hours. Ikan Kekek (talk) 11:26, 11 November 2014 (UTC)

Final destination Canada/Mexico[edit]

A couple of years ago someone I know went to Mexico (German citizen) for half a year for which he had a visa. Because the flight had a layover in the US of A he had to get a Visa for the USA and Visa Waiver did not apply. I have heard that under some circumstances EVERYBODY who goes through the USA to Canada or Mexico needs a Visa and visa-waiver does not apply. I think this should be mentioned in the article if you got more than hearsay on that one...141.30.210.129 18:42, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

We already have the text "The United States does not allow sterile transit, which means that even if you have an immediate connecting flight, you have to pass through Customs and Immigration. This is time-consuming and tedious (4 hours or more is recommended to be safe)." That should be made clearer, expanded or given more emphasis.
e.g. On one flight from Toronto to Hong Kong, we stopped for fuel in Anchorage Alaska and everyone had to get off and go through US immigration formalities. This was unexpected to me, but not problematic. The ticket did not show the stop; customers need to ask. Pashley (talk) 22:32, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
I probably didn't express myself clearly enough: Sometimes you can't do with "normal" Visa-waiver even if you'd apply. I think it is if your final destination is Mexico or Canada and you stay there for more then 90 days, regardless of wether you have a visa for your final destination. Therefore many travllers from Europe, who don't usually have any problem going to the US for short trips thanks to Visa-Waiver would be inclined to avoid a transit of the USA...141.30.210.129 23:26, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

Muslim Warning Still Doesn't Sound Fair/Complete[edit]

The wording still doesn't sound accurate, particularly "even a slight suspicion could get you arrested." We throw around "Post 9/11" but although people may FEEL like the event is fresh and modern, it happened nearly 15 years ago. Exactly how much evidence do we have that it is commonplace TODAY for innocent Muslim travelers to be detained or arrested? "even a slight suspicion could get you arrested." is a bold and very intimidating statement to make. As I recall the previous discussion focused a lot on general "I've read sometime between 2001 and today"-type of anecdotes with nearly all of the cases being closer to 2001 than today.

Either way, with 15 years having passed, we need some sort of addendum. If people have evidence that innocent and non-suspect Muslims are being sent off to jail even today, it should be mentioned that it's just as prevalent now. If however we are simply stuck in the past using tired rhetoric, we need to catch up and say that such instances have steadily/slightly/dramatically decreased in recent years. We cannot rely on "Post 9/11" anymore as the end-all. What does it mean TODAY? How does it affect travel TODAY? To that we currently offer no answer. ChubbyWimbus (talk) 16:04, 10 August 2015 (UTC)

While I do agree with the overall thrust of the argument, we have to keep in mind, that this issue is ultimately political. Just like "Gitmo" was political desirable under the Bush jr. administration, it wasn't (and still isn't) under the Obama administration. What if in 2016 some candidate becomes president who makes racial profiling the de facto law of the land? What if there is a dramatic reversal of immigration rules, TSA theater and the likes in a more permissive direction? After all, the GOP field alone might indicate both things at once, what with the party seemingly having a xenophobic as well as a libertarian wing. That being said, our current wording should refer to the situation in 2015 and only make occasional references to history and while we will never not be in the post 9/11 (or the post World War II) world, we may not ultimately live in the immediate post 9/11 world... Hobbitschuster (talk) 16:24, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
I tried a rewrite. Comments?
My own feeling is that the Understand section is still much too long, has much redundant info, and needs more editing. Pashley (talk) 21:56, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
Perhaps the Understand section is so long to compensate for the shortness of the rest of the article? I don't know. I think your edit reads very well. ChubbyWimbus (talk) 11:14, 11 August 2015 (UTC)
Well that prognosis for the 2016 election was an interesting one to read with three years of distance... Hobbitschuster (talk) 00:23, 4 October 2018 (UTC)

[edit]

I'm not sure about the existing banner, since all it does is show a completely normal immigration procedure.

For the benefit of this topic it might be good to show a long line of disgruntled passengers. Unfortunately the best CC picture I could find until now is this, which although works as a banner is just too blurry.

Any other suggestions what the banner could be about? --Andrewssi2 (talk) 10:47, 22 August 2015 (UTC)

The banner shows an American passport control (and the article's purpose is to guide people how to avoid ending up there), while the long line could be anywhere in the world.
On the other hand, it's (at least as of next year) not particularly easy to transit through Canada either so perhaps the whole scope of the article should be changed as well. ϒpsilon (talk) 11:22, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
I think it's fine as is. I think it's way overthinking things to require this article to have a banner featuring people who are disgusted with America and/or American airports. The picture shows a woman checking a passport. It's true that within seconds of the photo being taken she probably handed it back and the passenger moved along, but given the article title, we can easily IMAGINE the scenario where she sees something she doesn't like that causes an inconvenience for the passenger. ChubbyWimbus (talk) 15:57, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
I just thought a picture of a simple passport check doesn't really express the rationale of this article well. I'm planning to travel Sydney -> London at some point, and the reason that I don't consider transiting via the USA is not because of a 1 minute check of my passport.
The present banner is OK, just I believe that a representation of the hassle of a US transit would improve this a good deal. --Andrewssi2 (talk) 22:47, 22 August 2015 (UTC)

Include Canada?[edit]

To my understanding Canada is not much different from the USA when it comes to procedures related to immigration and transit, at least after they've introduced the Electronic Travel Authorization in 2016. Perhaps we should change the scope of the article and the article's name to "Avoiding travel through the USA and Canada"? ϒpsilon (talk) 13:59, 13 November 2015 (UTC)

I think you are right. The US and Canada have taken to many of the same practices and as both don't allow sterile transit, they are virtually identical for e.g. a citizen of a Central American country wishing to go to Europe. And a Canadian visa does not seem to be much easier or cheaper to get than an American one... Let's just hope we won't have to write "avoiding travel through the Schengen area" any time soon... Hobbitschuster (talk) 17:21, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
Let's discuss this a little more before deciding. Is Canada as likely as the US to just drag someone off to indefinite detention without trial? Ikan Kekek (talk) 21:34, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
When has this happened the last time in the US? I mean in all honesty, US policy vis a vis terrorism per se is not the main reason why people want to avoid a transit of the US. Imho the main reason is the disallowing of sterile transit, the onerous visa procedures (safe for citizens of a select few countries) and the huge cost even of a visa application (100$ are not unheard of and if the difference in flight prices is less than that, avoiding the US makes financial sense). And a visa application does not mean you are granted a visa. Sadly it seems that in this Canada ceases to positively distinguish itself from the US in these regards. There are quite a few countries, whose citizens can get a visa on arrival for the Schengen area with little trouble and for up to 90 days while going through the US would be onerous beyond measure - just for transiting. Hence imho it serves the traveler to include Canada if in these regards Canada is no different. Of course we could create a new separate article, though... Hobbitschuster (talk) 22:11, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
I don't think we need a separate article. Nevertheless, this article presents Canada as a (much?) better alternative for transit than the US which doesn't seem to be true any longer. Also, people may have that perception even without having read this article. ϒpsilon (talk) 22:25, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
So given the date is fast approaching when the US and Canada will be pretty much the same in terms of "Do I want to transit there" to citizens of very many countries, how should we deal with that? We currently say Canada is not much better, but maybe we should a) create a separate article on avoiding travel through Canada or b) extend this article to include Canada and only mention a few options that replace Canada with the US or vice versa if there is a conceivable added value in doing so. Hobbitschuster (talk) 18:34, 5 February 2016 (UTC)

BBC News Article[edit]

Why do so many people hate US airports? --Andrewssi2 (talk) 07:31, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

Guide and FTT?[edit]

Here we have another travel topic article that maybe isn't that far from guide status and Main Page eligibility. Obviously we need to check if the flights mentioned in the article are still operated. I have a feeling US border procedures haven't changed that much over the last couple years (as compared to the early 2000s). Can anyone come to think of any obvious omissions? --ϒpsilon (talk) 18:56, 12 January 2017 (UTC)

Well it might be seen as an incredibly "timely" feature in light of recent events... At any rate, we might want to read through the list of reasons why transiting through the US might be undesirable and eliminate the more "War on Terror" related ones as they have now become less relevant and are usually supplanted by much more pressing concerns regarding visas. Hobbitschuster (talk) 19:30, 12 January 2017 (UTC)
Given the January 25th 2017 executive order banning citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia from the US, this is very topical. The "war of terror" and vilification of Muslims isn't over, it's just beginning. What would it take to get this from 'usable' to 'guide'? K7L (talk) 04:00, 30 January 2017 (UTC)
Flights are at least up to date now. ϒpsilon (talk) 20:06, 9 September 2017 (UTC)
The article now 1. gives multiple reasons for why some voyagers might want to avoid transiting through the US and 2. presents alternative routes for travel to and between points in the Americas. If there's nothing else to say, the article "Effectively covers most aspects of the topic with no obvious omissions." and can probably be considered a guide. Just a few photos to give some color to the article and it can be nominated. Maybe a map and markers is useful, maybe not. ϒpsilon (talk) 17:12, 29 January 2018 (UTC)
Photos added! ϒpsilon (talk) 19:33, 29 January 2018 (UTC)
Ypsilon, this looks ready for promotion and nomination to me. Shall I do the honors or would you rather? -- AndreCarrotflower (talk) 02:06, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

The "Trump slump" in US tourism[edit]

One report Pashley (talk) 00:00, 24 February 2017 (UTC)

Devastating drop in tourism to the US? You don't say! What else would anyone expect after the travel restrictions? Ikan Kekek (talk) 01:15, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
Well, let's see when airlines start rerouting their flights around the US... If the travel restrictions get any more ridiculous they might just do it... Hobbitschuster (talk) 15:48, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
Trump Is Pushing Travelers North to Canada, Marriott CEO Says Pashley (talk) 03:36, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
Fewer Tourists Are Coming to the U.S., and Experts Say It's Largely Trump's Fault Pashley (talk) 00:39, 7 April 2018 (UTC)

Direct flights from Europe to Santiago de Chile[edit]

London isn't mentioned, although British Airways has direct flights from there to Santiago. Madrid is mentioned, but in 2004 I changed there in both directions, and had to fly Iberia - and very much wished I hadn't done either (Iberia had cramped seating, poor service and the unfriendliest cabin crew I've ever experienced - and I speak fluent Spanish, so that wasn't the the problem). I swore never to visit South America again if this was the only way to go. The flights were unbearably long, but with the Atlantic and the Amazon basin in the way there's little way to avoid that. A layover at, say, Miami would of course be terrific - but for the obstacles the USA puts in the way of transit passengers like me (who wouldn't visit that country even if you paid us to). Travel agents here in Holland advise people to avoid US layovers at all costs. Instead I can catch a high-speed train down to Paris (just an hour and a half from Brussels, with a stop right at Charles de Gaulle airport), then fly Air France direct to Santiago.213.127.210.95 14:57, 3 April 2017 (UTC)

Us not mentioning certain flights is almost certainly due to those flights not having come to our attention. And I have flown Iberia as well as other airlines and Iberia isn't that bad. I personally found Delta worse, but then again, when you fly Delta you have to transit through Atlanta most of the time - hey, free coke in the terminal! For that I get my retina scanned any time ;-). At any rate, this article is important, because while I have a passport with twelve stars, several people I know do not. Hobbitschuster (talk) 16:00, 3 April 2017 (UTC)
I flew London/Paris/Madrid to Bogota a few times (Avianca). Worth noting that these flights do not enter US airspace as well, which is another consideration. Andrewssi2 (talk) 00:44, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

Other reasons?[edit]

There are other reasons to avoid US travel, especially for anyone working in computer security:

I could give at least a half dozen other examples.

Are such things worth mentioning in the article? I'm inclined to say no, since more-or-less everyone in the field already knows. However, it seemed worth asking. Pashley (talk) 21:49, 9 September 2017 (UTC)

Interesting lawsuit[edit]

NASA Engineer Suing the Government for Searching His Smartphone At an airport, so relevant here. ACLU & EFF supporting the plaintiff. Pashley (talk) 01:45, 22 September 2017 (UTC)

Changes in restrictions[edit]

Trump administration announces new restrictions on travel Pashley (talk) 11:56, 25 September 2017 (UTC)

Is this relevant here?[edit]

NAACP warns black passengers of flying American Airlines after 'disturbing incidents' To me it looks like a controversy we need not get involved in. What do others think? Pashley (talk) 01:28, 30 October 2017 (UTC)

The NAACP is a very mainstream organization and the country's oldest civil rights organization. I would recommend for everyone to take what they say very seriously. Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:33, 30 October 2017 (UTC)
It doesn't seem relevant here. Black Americans cannot avoid their own country, and there do not appear to be any claims from foreign nationals. Adding "Being black" as a reason to avoid US transit on this basis sounds very sensational. ChubbyWimbus (talk) 11:24, 30 October 2017 (UTC)
Well, it might not be relevant, but not because black folks from foreign countries might not have problems, but because this is specific to American Airlines. So if anything, it could be relevant to Flying in the United States, where I'd also want to mention the somewhat harrowing record United has of breaking musical instruments and having passengers assaulted. Ikan Kekek (talk) 19:47, 30 October 2017 (UTC)
So there's a strike against United and one against American. Anything against Delta and we can just say "avoid flying if you value your sanity". Airlines get brazen if there's no high speed rail to compete with them. Hobbitschuster (talk) 00:08, 31 October 2017 (UTC)
Point well taken. Airline consolidation (=less competition) is also to blame. Ikan Kekek (talk) 00:17, 31 October 2017 (UTC)
I avoid flying on North American airlines whenever possible. In my experience, Air Canada is tolerable but all the US-based lines suck. The major Asian carriers, especially Cathay Pacific & Singapore, are far better mostly because they have a better staff/passenger ratio. Some European airlines, like KLM, are fine too & there are probably a bunch of good ones I do not know. Pashley (talk) 02:08, 1 April 2018 (UTC)

Social media[edit]

All visa applicants will have to disclose social media accounts after new proposal Pashley (talk) 02:02, 1 April 2018 (UTC)

Court ruling restraining search & confiscation of digital devices[edit]

Victory in Alasaad for Our Digital Privacy at the Border Pashley (talk) 10:19, 15 May 2018 (UTC)

Another reason?[edit]

A 64-year-old put his life savings in his carry-on. U.S. Customs took it without charging him with a crime. Pashley (talk) 13:21, 2 June 2018 (UTC)

That sort of robbery is business as usual. K7L (talk) 18:39, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
Yes & the US is not the only country where it happens. Nor is asset forfeiture the only problem; for example, people have been complaining for decades about predatory traffic cops on popular tourist routes, and towns that profit hugely by pouncing on travellers.
But are these things worth mentioning in the article? Pashley (talk) 19:19, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
This article appears to be about (or primarily about) air travel. As such, the pretextual traffic stops which begin with some random unarmed Negro being pulled over for a busted tail lamp, then escalate inexplicably to drug-sniffing dogs showing up or even to the motorist ending up very dead are likely not worth including - at least in this article. That doesn't mean that media aren't full of such reports. The more specific issues regarding asset forfeiture in airports, on the other hand, do directly impact air travel and may be relevant. K7L (talk) 19:30, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
Police officers shouldn't call the shots whether - for example - a bit over the speed limit is an offense. Machines and clearly written rules should. Most machines aren't racist. That said, yes, whatever is related to air travel, immigration and foreigners being treated shabbily should be mentioned here. Regular stuff that happens to locals as well should be mentioned in other articles; does Driving in the United States mention road racism? Hobbitschuster (talk) 19:55, 4 June 2018 (UTC)

Conference cancellation[edit]

Largest Sex Worker Conference in the US Is Canceled Amid FOSTA Fears Pashley (talk) 00:16, 16 June 2018 (UTC)

Phone searches[edit]

Canadians Will Now Have Their Phones Searched When Crossing The US Border Pashley (talk) 23:41, 25 June 2018 (UTC)

That's six-month-old news, and all it means is that Canadians will be treated just like everybody else at the U.S. border. --Robkelk (talk) 00:00, 26 June 2018 (UTC)

Marijuana[edit]

Canadians who smoke marijuana legally, or work or invest in the industry, will be barred from the U.S.: Customs and Border Protection official Pashley (talk) 11:33, 14 September 2018 (UTC)