getting the Nth degree at BCN

September 23: Security seemed unusually tight at Barcelona El Prat airport on my return trip: while I was waiting in the baggage check line, security officers asked me about my entire preceding itinerary, wanting to know why I had flown in from Frankfurt and what I was doing there (it was just a layover, not even a destination!), and what kind of visa I had if I was a United States citizen living in Australia. The questions were pretty aggressive and rapid-fire; I had to show them my entire e-ticket itinerary and the printed schedules for the MPA and PESSTO meetings before they understood. This was beyond wanting to know whether I had received any items from anyone, which they asked me a second time at the gate before boarding. I felt pretty vulnerable until I actually had my boarding pass (or, really, until I was on the plane).

I don’t remember this kind of thing at other airports. I’d worry that DHS had decided I was in trouble for some reason except that (a) this wasn’t on American soil, and (b) they were treating everyone else the same way. The baggage check line just got longer and longer. I’m glad that I got there relatively early, and that there was a premier check-in line.

Does anyone know whether this is typical for flights out of Spain, or typical for flights entering the US (at least from certain countries)?

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About Richard

I'm an American scientist who is building a new life in Australia. This space will contain words about science and math, but also philosophy, policy, literature, my travels, occasional rants, all sorts of things I find strange and awesome. The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer at the time (currently University of Sydney), though personally, I think they should.
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