April 1, 2012

I enjoyed the March 29 Metro article “As jets expand, so does Dulles Airport.” However, it overlooked problems that continue to plague Dulles International Airport.

I recently saw some of them firsthand when I arrived at Dulles aboard an international flight. Upon deplaning, passengers were directed into a so-called mobile lounge (which resembled a discarded “Star Wars” prop) for transit to the immigration and customs checkpoints. Although the vehicle was full, we waited 15 minutes for a driver to appear. We then made the five-minute crawl across the tarmac to the immigration hall.

There, now more than 20 minutes after we deplaned, only two-thirds of the processing stands were staffed, and the line was several hundred passengers deep. While I waited in line, several immigration officers went off duty.

At the front of the line, I was greeted by large signs touting the new Global Entry Program, which would allow me, after paying $100 and undergoing a background check, to enjoy the speedy processing I take for granted at other airports. On this occasion, I cleared immigration and customs more than one hour after deplaning.

I have been told by others that my experience was typical. They suggest I fly out of Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, where even passengers without Global Entry status often exit the airport only 20 minutes after arriving on an international flight.

Dulles management has a duty to work closely with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that immigration lines are properly staffed and to take other reasonable measures to speed transit. Until then, I will take my business elsewhere.

Gabriel S. Meyer, Rockville