Apr 15, 2016

Is Germany's airport staff less trusting of foreigners?

After my recent experiences travelling without a Shengen visa in Europe, I must say that Germans (e.g. airline/airport staff, airport security) are a lot less trustworthy of foreigners than say, the UK or Sweden.

About 20 days ago I travelled to Sweden with Norwegian Airlines for a few days. I  was able to do an automatic check-in both at Heathrow and Arlanda airports, everything went absolutely smoothly entering Sweden and back into the UK. When I arrived to Sweden at passport control I was asked what was the reason of my visit and how long I was staying. My passport was then stamped and everything was good.

In Germany it was a lot different. First, when I was boarding my Lufthansa flight in London, I was asked by the flight attendant before boarding if I needed a visa. This was a bit surprising to me because the Shengen visa exception for Colombians started quite sometime ago. It was rather unprofessional taking into consideration that I was boarding now and that I was certainly not the only Colombian person this attendant must have met trying to board a Lufthansa flight. I just said "no, Colombians don't need a visa anymore", and he let me cross... does it make sense?

Upon arrival to Germany, at passport control and unlike Sweden, the lady who was checking my passport demanded to see my flight tickets, she asked if I had a "residence card", but didn't specify whether she meant a German one or a British one. So I said "no" assuming she asked for a German one. Then she started to become annoyed because it didn't make sense to her that I was coming from Colombia to Dresden for only two days. Didn't she realise that I was coming from London? Then she demanded to see my UK residence permit, which she did not have to see to let me into Germany. I was not asked for this when I entered Sweden.

On return to the UK from Germany, I couldn't do an automatic check-in because I'm asked to provide additional passport and visa information, which I did not have to do when I was back from Sweden. At the Lufthansa counter the lady took about 10 minutes to finally be able to input my passport and visa information. In Sweden I got my boarding pass within a minute and I proceeded to the gates with absolutely no delays.

Then at security, it seemed that the sensor sensitivity is put on max because almost everybody had to be body checked, to the anger of the airport security people who lacked any visible sings of kindness and calmness. And it was only 3 pm.

Thumbs down to Munich International Airport and Lufthansa, thumbs up for Arlanda and Norwegian!

Dresden by night