Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I'm at an airport lounge in Frankfurt Airport and just had a weird experience. There was a huge line and passport control to get into the terminal with my departure gate for my next flight. I decided to go to the lounge. It was sort of a long walk, but when I arrived and asked how to get to my gate, they said it was around the corner - with no security or passport control. Somehow I just "walked around" the passport control.

Now I realize that this is inter-terminal passport control so I have no idea what sort of border it represents, but being able to walk around it seems a bit weird to me...

UDPATE: Although two different people at the lounge assured me it was only minutes away and I didn't have to go through passport control, I somehow got routed back the way I came and though passport control. I asked several times since I was very skeptical. So I either didn't listen to their directions carefully, they were pulling my leg, or they were wrong. Anyway, sorry about the misfire.


I had this experience in bangladesh. It was also possible to walk trough the passport control from the opposite direction.

If I remember correctly, you should passported and your handbag xrayed just before you enter the waiting area specific for your plane.

From what I know this is the usual way. As long as you have not left the gate area, you are considered to not have entered the country. I have also made similar experiences in other countries.

I think many European airports treat EU flights and non-EU flights differently and have passport control between those sections. For instance, flying from Helsinki to Stockholm, I didn't even have to show my passport.

But what is the point of having a passport control in a section that you can walk around and into?

Passports are easily purchased anywhere, which is another way of "walking around" the controls, so in the end you have to rely on voluntary compliance anyway.

To think otherwise (as the TSA apparently does) is to engage in self-delusion.

Mark Wubben wrote:
Joi, that's because of the Schengen Treaty

Yup. If Joi is subjected to a passport control upon his arrival in Austria, then the Schengen protocol hasn't been breached. If, OTOH, his flight from Frankfurt is routed to a Schengen arrival terminal in Austria, instead of being properly quarantined as a non-Schengen flight, then the shit should hit the fan. Austria would have serious grounds to complain about Germany's lax border checks ;-)

Once when flying to Moscow, I just walked through from the gate to the street with no stopping whatsoever - there were two desks with passport/customs guys and one guy was arguing loudly on his mobile phone and the other guy was sleeping.
At first, I walked through and then doubled back, thinking I had missed something. Turns out I hadn't and I walked through again.

Coming back to Tokyo, I accidently packed an old Daghestani dagger with a 12 inch blade into my carryon, rather than in my checked bags - I was sure I was going to lose it at the security check, but they never noticed it on the x-ray.

Great security...

Be thankful that you were not treated to the Charles D'Gaul special. In Paris even when you are doing an exchange you must go through passport control to leave the first terminal and then go back through in order to enter the next terminal. The security and they system is so archaic and ass-backwards that we missed our connection flight to Florence over the summer. Be assured the next time we travel to Europe it will be through Frankfurt or Amsterdam or Brussels.

CDG is due to the terminal design :D, Frankfurt sounds like Schengen and by the way Austria and Germany are both part of the agreement. Third in Europe you are not right away considered to be a terrorist (except you are a member of the Bush gang).

Have you ever had the one in CDG where the bus driver on the shuttle bus between terminals takes a tea break at a certain time, and the bus just sits there? Not as bad as having the terminal building fall in on you due to metal fatigue I suppose.

Although you don't need to go through passport control in certain circumstances when you land, you are supposed to be put through X-Ray and metal detectors again before you are allowed to take off again, as I understand it. The reason for this appears to be simple accountability. The airport you take off from is supposed to be accountable for any offensive item that might have been taken onto the plane.


As others have pointed out, this is because of Schengen. I had the same experience in Frankfurt several times. Just be sure that whatever airport you exit the EU from stamps an exit visa in your passport otherwise you might have trouble at Narita on your way back. Took me 20 minutes to find someone at Frankfurt who would do this and another 15 to convince them to do so.

Oh, is there still a full on porno/adult goods shop in Frankfurt airport? It was right around the corner from the designer clothes stores last time I was there.

Why the exit stamp? I've never had problems and I've come from European trips without any stamps in my passport (entrance stamp an unreadable smudge and no exit stamp). They've always just glanced at my reentry permit and that's all they seem to care about.

Chris_B wrote @13:
Just be sure that whatever airport you exit the EU from stamps an exit visa in your passport otherwise you might have trouble at Narita on your way back.

Joi is a Japanese citizen and won't have any immigration- or visa-related problems at Narita. The EU exit stamp is valuable for a Japanese national only to be able to prove to EU border control personnel that one hasn't overstayed in the EU beyond the period allowed by a visa waiver program.

boo, MostlyVowels,

I've seen the passport control people at Narita give both Japanese and resident foreigners a hard time for lack of an exit stamp when returning to Japan. This seems to be more common with people who travel abroad frequently and thus have more stamps in their passport.

Chris-B wrote @23:
I've seen the passport control people at Narita give both Japanese and resident foreigners a hard time for lack of an exit stamp when returning to Japan.

The opinion of a Japanese passport control agent as to what exit stamps you should have in your passport is totally irrelevant if you are a Japanese. If you are an alien, OTOH, not bowing to the irrational whims of border control personnel — be it in Japan, Europe or the US — might obviously be a Bad Idea (TM).

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