I come up to Moscow quite frequently. I am here right now writing this from the Novotel located my Sheremyetovo-2. (This hotel is, by the way, my second home…I’ve stayed more nights here than anywhere else on the planet, besides my own home. That could be a whole other post.) Every time I come up here, there is always this sense of foreboding that comes over me just before the plane lands and then I get off said plane. I know what is coming next….the passport control line.
This airport was opened for the 1980 Olympic Games. It had to know that there would be thousands of people coming into Moscow during the games and subsequently, sometime after that if Russia ever wanted to benefit from tourism. So, knowing this, you would think that they would have prepared better to cycle people into the country (given that this was constructed during communism, I guess they probably still wanted some form of control, but still, couldn’t the Russians themselves want to get out of the airport in a timely manner?). Well, as it stands now, that pit in my stomach grows because this airport has the slowest passport control lines I’ve ever been in. (If you’ve been to worse, please let me know; I have heard that the Philippines is pretty bad too.)
The area that this is located in isn’t very big. They never have all the booths working to help facilitate the movement of people through a little faster. Even if they did have all the booths working, I don’t think it would help that much…but, since this is never the case, we won’t worry about it. So, the lines are bad, people try to cut, nothing is too defined as to where the actual line is, and then, there are usually people smoking in this hot and usually cramped space. (As a side, there actually have been one or two times when I was lucky enough to come though during the winter season and I think there were some other flights that had to be delayed and I was able to walk right up and wait behind one or two people before I got through. I was really grateful for those couple of times.)
I hope that the foundation has been laid. This point of my trip is almost always the lowest point. Almost everything after that is wonderful.
My ideas from my hour of standing in line today:
1. Blow it up and start over.
2. Add a whole other row of booths in front of the existing ones.
3. Try the switchback line method that has a single line which feeds into all the booths depending on which opens up. (They used to do this for the passport check to leave Moscow, but for some reason got rid of it….)
4. Rearrange the flight schedule of all planes to come in a very different times.
5. Keep it the way it is.
This last option just came to me. If Russia is really trying to be Russia and keep marketing itself like it is mostly portrayed around the world, then yes, they should continue to do this. If not, how else would you know you were “really” in Russia if the first thing that you came to was a clean, efficient, fast passport control line? I think I just figured it out!
[I could go into all the great ideas that I had to help the system, but now that I’ve figured it out, I’ll just leave this post as it is (without a pit in my stomach).]