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in a web of glass, pinned to the edges of vision

Er, your highness? The clothes aren't invisible to liars: you're just naked.

I'd forgotten how often we saw Magritte

mucha mosaic

Er, your highness? The clothes aren't invisible to liars: you're just naked.

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mucha mosaic
Yesterday, I flew through Dulles International Airport. Dulles has never impressed me, but flying international through the capital of the United States is not a torment that I would recommend even to persons I especially dislike. For those of you who fly through Washington DC regularly, where do you fly from? It can't be Dulles, because good goddamn that is the worst air-conditioned, least-efficient, most absurd airport I have ever set foot in.

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.

HOWEVER.

*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

*re-enter security:
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.

Ahem.
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.
  • DCA's where it's at, dude. Also known as Reagan International. I don't fly regularly but I've never had any problems using it.

    It's also located conveniently on the metro's Yellow Line.
    • I will definitely note that down for future reference. THANK YOU.
      This was CDG(Paris) -> IAD -> SFO, so I didn't need public transit. But damn that sounds better than the fucktacular stupidity I wrestled.
  • He returns!
  • Keep in mind that "Republican" rep from Texas is a lifelong Libertarian - he was even the Lib. candidate for President in 88 - the Republican party eventually cut him a deal (that he'd remain nominally Republican and vote with them on procedural matters, and they'd give him committee assignments as his seniority would indicate) rather than keep fighting against his election campaigns (which they've done at least twice).

    He's pretty much the politically-least-loyal GOP Senator.
  • Dulles just plain sucks. I'd rather drive to BWI than Dulles.
    Man, I wish I knew you had a stopover. For you, I would have braved Dulles.
    • I never left the inside-of-gates portion of the airport, and it was, literally, about 20 minutes I had outside of customs / checkthrough &c. So I wouldn't have had a chance to touch base.
      If I had been THINKING I would've suggested I could go home out of IAD or something TODAY, and visit w/ you and the ugali, but thinking seems to be way the fuck beyond me anymore.
  • I fly into Washington pretty frequently, and I almost always go through DCA. Every once in a while I go through BWI, but usually only when I'm combining the DC trip with a jaunt elsewhere on one end or the other. I've also re-entered the US through Newark, and that was a low-trouble experience, with the sole hitch being that my luggage tag (not my address one, but the printed one with barcode) had managed to be ripped off at some point (by humans or machines, I don't know), necessitating the printing and installation of a new one.

    As for the shoe thing, I wholeheartedly agree that a few chairs there really helps (and DCA has some, by the way). The sole thickness thing, though, I disagree; a bunch of my very thin shoes have metal in the soles to stabilize them, so if I didn't take them off they'd definitely set off the metal detector, slowing me down dramatically, and slowing down everybody behind me.
    • But you see- you know your thin shoes have metal in 'em to stabilize them, and would take them off yourself, neh?

      So I need to write off Dulles. Check.
      • Well, yes, *I* know that. *I* do not go to the airport without shoes that are easily slipped off and easily slipped on again. But I can guarantee you, from having been behind several of them, that not *everybody* who has thin shoes with stabilized soles knows that, and so the "I don't care, take them off anyway" attitude of the TSA screeners makes sense to me.
        • Oh right, there I go again assuming every other person on the planet will be half as smart as thee and me. Mea culpa. :D
  • I've never flown into DC on an international flight, but RFR (Ronald F*cking Reagan National Airport) has been more recently renovated, and is thus more efficient, etc.

    Dulles used to be wonderfully efficient by comparison to National Airport (and may be again, if someone pours the kind of money they poured into RFR), but has not aged gracefully. Plus, it's very near my parent's house and allows you to avoid DC-to-western-Virginian-suburb-traffic-hell.
  • That's exactly how I feel about Frankfurt International. I've been there twice, and while it's a nice looking airport, it's badly designed, I felt violated by the security people (while we were getting frisked, excuse me, patted down, the lady who was checking me was about to stick her hand down my pants because my metal studded belt beeped, and I told her that she'd be eating my fist if she did. She believed me), their baggage policies are ludicrous, and the whole operation is badly handled.
  • Dulles is a horror to be avoided unless you've cheap tickets to France that require it, which seems to be a surprisingly common state of affairs($200...Two hours of inconvenience...You make the call). I've flown out of BWI a great deal, and(when it's not being renovated), it's been a pleasant experience for the most part. Those, admittedly, are domestic flights.

    Welcome home! :)
    • BWI! I forgot about that! Yeah, I've flown out of there domestically, and I still like DCA better, but BWI is definitely second in the list far above Dulles, the distant third.
  • I live in DC. Please, never ever fly through Dulles again if you can help it. National (aka Reagan, aka The Competent Airport, aka Actually In The City) is more accessible and WAY easier to get through, domestic or international. I've flown through domestically a lot and my only complaint is that in United's area there isn't a coffee place (woe); I hear from my friends who flew to Israel, Morocco, England and, um, I think it was Japan, that the international terminal is way easier to maneuver through than IAD's.

    So horribly sorry for your bad experience. :( If you route yourself through DCA next time, I'll do my best to show up with a pre-flight care package! :)
  • I fly into DC using Reagan, when I do.
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