Here is the problem: you have to get your luggage, walk through customs, and then re-check your luggage. This is surely not at all a surprise to anybody who has flown internationally before.
*get your luggage:
I spent 1/2 hour standing around in the pre-customs baggage claim to see if my luggage would turn up on one of the three carousels available.
First on Carousel C, because that's where they told us to go. Plenty of luggage whizzing by on the carousel, but after examining it for a while I noticed that none of it was from my flight.
Then they told us "OH YOUR LUGGAGE IS ON CAROUSEL A GO OVER TO CAROUSEL A TO GET YOUR LUGGAGE FROM THE FLIGHT FROM PARIS".
Nope, psych. About 10 minutes after THAT, they told us OH GO TO CAROUSEL B.
I was waiting for them to send us back to C when I spotted my bag.
*walk through customs:
there were three international flights, all of whom had been shuffled from carousel to carousel as well, so we all were hitting the customs lines at the same time. Clever!
There were TWO people to look at our passports and customs declarations.
*re-check your luggage:
this step went well, at least
I have a deep problem with the idea that I could go into security in let's-hypothesize-Paris and then need somehow to go through customs in let's-hypothesize-Washington.
Was the inspection my bag got from Charles deGaulle's ground team somehow not good enough?
I have a few suggestions for improvements in the safety/security inspection area, as well. The San Francisco Airport has realized that putting 4-5 chairs at the end of the luggage X-ray / walk-through makes it easier to get people through quickly, as only some people will have to take their shoes off.
It might be wise to put chairs at the end of every security widget so that everybody can get through quickly. It might also be wise not to demand that sandals, or shoes that have a less-than-1/4"-thick-sole, come off.
So while flying in to Dulles, I could pick out the Capital dome and the Washington Monument from the sky easy enough. Somehow, for me, it's not a proper flight into Dulles unless I can pick out the Watergate Hotel.
This, I feel, says something about me.
I'm not going to pillory the current Federal administration for its amazing mishandling of the situation in New Orleans.
Instead, I'll let a Republican congressman from Texas do it for me (and my thanks to rfrancis for pointing me at the link).
Horrifyingly, I find myself agreeing with this selfsame Texan rep on another issue related to the administration's lack of... of, uh... a proper introduction to competence, there we go.
I cannot decide if this is a sign of the end times for all mankind, or just indicative that the GOP is not entirely upwind of the heap of bullshit anymore.