Just Curious...what do you do in this situation?

SKing

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Nov 22, 2007
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:cry:Hey guys...just got back from my trip and just wanted some opinions re something that happened to me at the airport in Santiago...I almost missed my plane with this bullshyt

Checked my bags and entered the airport to have my passport and ticket checked. I have been to the DR 5 times in the last 9 months and never had a problem...Well, I get to the counter and heres what happened...

The woman at the counter asks me where I am traveling to, so I tell her
SHE LOOKS AT ME AND LOOKS AT MY PASSPORT
She asks me if I am Dominican, I tell her no
SHE LOOKS AT ME AND LOOKS AT MY PASSPORT
She asks me if my parents are Dominican, I tell her no
SHE LOOKS AT ME AND LOOKS AT MY PASSPORT
She asks me if I have a Dominican boyfriend, I tell her no
SHE LOOKS AT ME AND LOOKS AT MY PASSPORT
She calls over a guy from another counter
HE LOOKS AT ME AND LOOKS AT MY PASSPORT
They are discussing the situation in Spanish as if I am not standing there and as if she just did not asks me a gazillion questions in Spanish that I understood and answered just as fluently.
They are saying "but this is her picture"
HE LOOKS AT ME AND LOOKS AT MY PASSPORT
The guy then asks me a ton of questions re where I was born, who issued my passport, who issued my residency visa, who I was visiting, my birthdate,etc
THEY LOOK AT ME AND LOOK AT MY PASSPORT
He then nods his head to the woman and she walks into the Immigration office there inside the airport, she comes out with another woman...she hands my passport to the other woman
WHO LOOKS AT ME AND LOOKS AT MY PASSPORT
Again with the questions
She asks me for some other form of identification which I did not have because I was taking my DL the first 3 times I went but everyone always just needed the passport so I stopped taking it
SHE LOOKS AT ME AND LOOKS AT MY PASSPORT
She aks me for my address in DR and I tell her
She asks me alot of the same questions that the man did, and I answer
I am getting scared
She asks me again for another form of identification and I explained that I had ALREADY told them that I didn't have any....
Finally, while she is talking with the guy I ask them in English "Can I call my friend because I am going to miss my plane"

She finally says no, it's ok, and signs and stamps a bunch of shyt and lets me go.
They tell me it is because my passport says that I was born in 1975 and that I do not look 32 years old
That cannot be it as I have never had a problem before
HAS THIS HAPPENED TO ANYONE ELSE...WHAT DO YOU DO IF THEY DON'T LET YOU ON THE PLANE? WHAT HAPPENS THEN?


Anyway, next time I go...I will be taking my DL and my Hospital badge from where I work here as to avoid any misunderstandings

Also my friend told me next time to act like I don't understand a word of Spanish...so hopefully that will help also

Just wanted to see if this was unusual or if it happens all the time

Thanks guys...
I am now so depressed to be back
 

cobraboy

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Jul 24, 2004
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Maybe they thought you were a drug mule. Seriously.

I have a very common WASP name. Some guy with the same name must have done some bad things, because EVERYTIME I check in at the airport, regardless of where it is, my passport disappears behind the ticket counter and into the Supervisory Inner Sanctum, and a mucky-much comes out, looks at me, and enters a password into the "system". A lesser version happens at both US and DR Immigration.

I just roll with it.
 

sascha

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Oct 4, 2007
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i had something similar happen to me when i was boarding my flight from JFK to SDQ in february. the airline agent scannned my boarding pass and looked at my passport. it should have taken 10 seconds at most but he began to analyze my passport and looked at it curiously, staring at my picture and flipping through the pages. im canadian but surely he's seen a canadian passport before. as with you, the airline agent kept looking at me and then the passport, then at me, then the passport. i was starting to worry that there was something wrong and that i would miss my plane bc i was the last one waiting to get on. a few minutes later, he gives my passport back to me and says "you're 25? you dont look 25. you look like a teenager." he smiled and lead me towards the plane.

was all that because he thought that i didnt look my age? weird.
 

SKing

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Nov 22, 2007
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I am going to take it as a compliment now.
But at the time, I was pretty upset...
HHHMMMMMM...now what can I do to make myself look 32???
 

Sdyent

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Apr 2, 2008
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I didn't need to get pass your second paragraph to see the issue. Cobraboy was correct, they assume you to be a mule. 5 times in 9 months is suspect activity.

I've traveled quite a bit, the only time I've ever been stopped or questioned I was alone. The ONLY you can do is keep your cool and tell the truth. The last thing you want to do is talk that "I know my rights" crap and get loud and irate. It means nothing to them and if I'm not mistaken, you can be held until they decide otherwise.

Just suck it up as the cost of doing business
 

SosuaJoe

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Feb 24, 2005
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You do exactly what you did: answer their questions politely and accurately. They're doing their job, and their job is to flag anything they think is suspicious.

Nothing to get upset about -- you did good.
 

bob saunders

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Jan 1, 2002
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Well, if your picture in the photo gallery is recent I would say you would be easy to be mistaken as Dominican and you look young and cute- definitely under 30. I once, about 5 years ago was left waiting while thy took my passport in to an office. 2 flights of tourists were processed through and I was left there waiting. Everytime I asked what was going on, all i got was shrug of the shoulders. Finally my passport was brought out of the room, handed to me, and the guy said "enjoy your visit to our country. " 2 hours total.
 

tflea

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Jun 11, 2006
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Profiling

Is not legally allowed in the U.S., although they do it. Here, they do it. If your passport for whatever reason raised a red flag to the agent, he/she was being careful to avoid a fine to the airline, which is very expensive, and protect his/her job as well, most likely. Get one of those fines charged to the agent and they are generally out the door in a heartbeat. Maybe you do not look your age, I have no idea about that. Maybe it was a 'bad hair day' when photo was taken, I have no idea. I wouldn't worry about it, you made your flight, you already say you miss the country, so............anyway. Sounds like from your responses you were straight up and honest and they had no where to go from there. The DR immigrations people, in my opinion, are much less intimidating than the asinine inspectors in the US and the TSA goons. They (in DR) may try to extract a few bucks at times, but if you know your rights and hold your ground, they'll usually back off. If not, call a supervisor from the airport authority, not from the government agency giving you a hard time.
 

Skippy1

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Feb 21, 2008
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You could always bring your mum to vouch for you and get out the baby album, I am sure she would love the Idea.....lol
Skippy1
 

shoegazer

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Apr 13, 2008
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I am so glad that I have never had an experience like that over on the Dominican side of things. Which is surprising as I have quite a lot of entrance and exit stamps for the .do.

The only time I ever got funny questioning was on the American side. "Well, you sure do go to the DR a lot." And gave me a suspicious look. Told them it was because my fianc? (as he was at the time) lived there. Then I got the "Oh, will you be sponsoring him" grill-down.

When I told him that I would be moving to the DR. He just gave me this look, stamped my passport and WELCOMED ME HOME.

Immigration always stresses me out. I guess they are constantly suspicious for a good reason, though.
 

SKing

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Nov 22, 2007
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Thanks everybody! I feel less nervous now...
When I got home I was just worrying about if it would happen again and would I get OUT the next time but I will do just like I did and hopefully it will end the same way.

I think that I put 1 or 2 pics in the gallery and they are recent...Thanks for saying I look less than 30, that's always nice to hear!
 

Caz

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May 15, 2004
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Perhaps now you konw how it feels for non-americans transitting through the USA!!!
 

2LeftFeet

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Dec 1, 2006
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The first time I went to the DR I was meeting my sister there. I was only going for the weekend. I had a small carry on bag with me. I got off the plane went through all of the check points. I had no problems. Just as I was about to leave there was a woman sitting behind a podium. She stopped me. She started speaking Spanish to me. I apologized and said that I didn't speak the language. She said " You don't?" She then took my carry on luggage out of my hand to feel if it had anything in it. She then let me go.

That was my first experience with Santo Domingo.

I didn't take it personally. I assumed she thought that I was going to be transporting drugs in or on my way out.
 

drloca

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Oct 26, 2004
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Best thing is not to let these people intimidate you anywhere in the world, remember they are just doing a job (admittedly some thrive on the power and authority). Be polite and respectful, even it it kills you to do so.

I think by getting defensive, they assume you feel "guilty".
 
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Chip

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Jul 25, 2007
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Santiago
1. When in the Domincan airport, don't speak Spanish if at all possible to any official types - this will guarantee you better treatment.

2. Be thankful you don't look 32.

3. Carry your driver's license.

4. All will be well.

Funny is, more than half the time that I go back to the States they check my luggage for explosives to the point that I'm thinking about not buying fireworks. Maybe it is the slick head and altogether ugly face, who knows? :)
 

jalencastro

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Dec 15, 2004
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hey i had a BAD experience flying out of ECUADOR. i got x-rayed, taken aside to check my luggage by drug sniffing dogs, then patted down before boarding my flight back to NYC....crazy eh? i told the guy x-raying me he wouldnt see anything in me except for the platanos i had for breakfast! SHEESH!!!!
 

rio2003

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Aug 16, 2006
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I have had a couple of occasions at POP where they have held me up for a while looking at my passport and searchings a number of times at Manchester airport UK. I am a single female traveller with 30 trips to DR in 12 years and they always look very closely at the stamps in the passport. I get questioned on occasion at Manchester and like some of the others have said I assume they think I am possibly carrying drugs. It can be quite scary, I agree.

Rio
 

corsair74

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Jul 3, 2006
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Ha! Don't sweat it.

Listen, this is going to happen if you are an african american who looks dominican. Happens to me all of the time. One time my buddy and I had gotten all the way through customs when a couple of well-dressed gentlemen with badges stopped us and asked a bunch of questions. Are you dominican? Do you have any family here? Do you have any POTENTIAL family here? LOL!

I have been traveling to the DR since 2002, and I've received "extra scrutiny" every time I've flown out of STI. I don't think that it has anything to do with profiling or drug trafficking. I believe that it's simply an immigration issue.

What I do now is remain calm (no matter how late I am for my flight), and start speaking the Queen's english when answering questions. This can be tricky since I'm used to responding in spanish. But that isn't the time to be practicing the local lingo. And I've never been retained after answering their questions.

Above all, don't let it ruin your trip.


Vince.
 

pyratt

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Jan 14, 2007
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That was a "dope check"....multiple trips in a perceived short period of time.

Upon entry to the DR:

1) Have your documents filled out
2) You are never bringing "gifts", everything in your bags is personal items
3) It is always "vacation"....never business, especially traveling solo
4) NEVER speak Spanish to the officials

When you leave:

1) Try to be EARLY, dopers are famous for the "I'm in a rush" hoping to slide on by
2) Spirit Air gives you all your Customs documents at check-in, fill them ALL out prior to walking into Customs.
3) Try to have a routine of knowing what's expected at the baggage check point and do it...
4) Make no eye contact with the secondary Customs line, the folks in civilian clothes who look like they are "hanging around"
5) Speak no Spanish to the officials

My 3rd trip (in 3 months) last year resulted in me pratically getting a physical exam (sans the prostate or colonoscopy checks)...my backpack was spread out on the table and FLOOR in a back room! I was asked a lot of questions over and over...Clearly a result of my nodding "Hello" to a guy in the secondary line. (I was only being nice...I caught him giving me the once over)

All they found was COFFEE....15 bags! Since that trip, never an issue although I always bring back Cafe SD in bulk...