Friday, April 12, 2013

Not Every Venue Offers VIP Treatment!

I just finished reading Andrew Harding's commentary on the BBC News Web site about the "Madonna affair" in Malawi. I certainly agree with his storm--in-a-teacup metaphor; but I found it interesting that he had nothing to say about what triggered that storm. It all came down to whether or not Madonna would receive VIP treatment at the airport when she was leaving the country.

I used to do quite a bit of overseas travel. When I was doing so on business, I experienced a variety of different levels of service, most of which had to do with how much my ticket had cost. I remember once taking a (remarkably affordable) First Class flight on El Al from Bangkok to Tel Aviv, for which I was personally escorted through a special line for getting my passport stamped and "officially" entering the country. I had that experience exactly once.

On the other hand I discovered that, at Narita Airport, everyone without a Japanese passport had to stay on the same line. I moved about as fast as you could hope for; but it was almost always long. On one occasion, when I was traveling with my wife, he happened to see Steven Seagal a few snake-turn bends in front of us. He was chatting with his entourage, showing no sign of any fuss whatsoever. I have no idea whether he was there as a VIP or just because he liked to visit Japan, but he was willing to accept that the line was part of the process.

I sometimes think that those who travel, regardless of the duration or objective of their visit, should be willing to accept that different host countries do things different ways; if they cannot accept that, perhaps they should let someone else do the traveling.

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