I have to interrupt my blog rest for a quick rant. This is what happened to me yesterday morning. I arrived at City Airport in London to check in for a flight to Amsterdam, where I was to catch a connection to Accra. At the check-in desk, I could see the KLM/VLM staff member getting agitated as he repeatedly entered my Zimbabwean passport details into the computer. He then asked me to wait for a few minutes while he took my passport off to another office.
When he got back, he told me that the system wouldn't authorise my travel because I needed a visa for Ghana. I told him I didn't and handed him a print out from the Ghana High Commisssion website stating that Zimbabwean nationals (among half a dozen others) are exempt from Ghanaian visa requirements. I also told him that I had phoned the Ghanaian High Commission to check, just to be on the safe side, and they had confirmed this.
He went away, came back and said the problem lay in Amsterdam where they were not prepared to check me in to Accra as they risked a fine if my information was incorrect. He also said that the UK immigration authorities indicated that they would not let me travel without further confirmation that I didn't need a visa. The airline was, he said, trying to contact the Ghanaian High Commission. I pointed out that being Saturday, they were wasting their time as it would be closed. I suggested that they should check for themselves on the Ghanaian High Commission website. I was told that, "We don't have internet access here" and could I take a seat while they tried to sort it out. In the meantime, I logged in to the airport wireless network on my laptop and within four minutes had found the relevant page on the High Commissison website. I took my laptop to the check-in desk and handed it to the guy who had tried to check me in initially and asked him to take it to the relevant office to show them.
After a while, they came back with it and said they were still trying to get verbal confirmation since they had found conflicting information on different websites and they risked a fine, etc etc. It was the system, you see. I suggested that the incorrect information had been entered into their system by a human and therefore this problem required a human being to correct the error.
Eventually, I suggested they call the immigration service at the airport in Accra, which they did. Of course, they confirmed that I didn't need a visa. They handed me my boarding passes. Sorry, but I should understand, security, etc, very tight, for my own good , etc. Bollocks to that! I hope at the very least a manager (with the appropriate level of authorisation of course - say Level 3.1n/qvoz) has now entered the correct information in the system so that other travellers who don't happen to have print outs from websites and portable wireless access to the internet to support their case, are not presented with the same crap excuse for human incompetence.
Number of parties integrating goat-related issues into campaign strategy – 0 Number of party manifestos mentioning goats – 1 (Monster Raving Loony Party - unconfirmed) Number of goat-related jokes made on the election stump and reported – 0 Parties adopting a goat as a mascot – 0 Percentage of candidates campaigning in goat masks – 0 Number of senior party members switching allegiance at the last minute over goat-related disagreements – 0 Number of Labour candidates advocating goat-free zones in urban areas – 0 Number of Tory candidates advocating goat-free zones in urban areas – 0 Number of Liberal Democrat candidates proposing goat-based urban development programmes – 0 Number of towns in UK facing post-election goat-related referenda – 1
UPDATE (6/5/05: 18:45) Number of winning candidates ascribing their success to goat-related policies – 0
(*All references to scape-goats have been excluded from this survey.)