Hi Midas. An interesting observation from recent travels. I've been travelling internationally 3-4 times per year for a few decades now. But I've never seen this happen. When boarding our flight at SFO, there were 8-10 Homeland Security agents lining the jetway right before stepping onto the plane. They were pulling people aside and when we were stopped, a very odd encounter followed:

agent: 'passports please' We hand over passports, agent opens and looks over quickly.

agent: 'what is your relationship?'

response: 'we're married, you just looked at our passports, didn't you look at our names?' [obviously had no interest in looking at the passports]

agent: 'how much money are you travelling with?'

response: 'not much'

agent: 'so you don't have a large sum of money?'

response: 'no'

agent: 'how much?'

responce: 'we do't have much'

agent: 'so you're not travelling with ten thousand dollars or more?'

response: 'no'

agent: 'ok' [very curt response I must add]

2 hours later we're boarding the connecting flight in Amsterdam, and start back throught the gate security process (full screening again) and after we redress from the body scan take-down, we start towards the waiting area. 3 security personnel great every person with a dog nosing around us. I thought, standard drug sniffing dog, but it jumps towards my wifes hat she's holding in her hand. She comments 'you want my hat' and walks past. A gentleman a few feet away is observing the whole process and comments 'no, he wants your money. He's trained to snif for how much you have.' I take my place next to him to observe a few people coming through the process and sure enough, a few people get the enthusiastic greeting any drug smuggler wouldn't want to see, but then the question from security 'how much money do you have?' follows. One lady with $3000 had to produce it for viewing (to the entire lounge I may add), while another gentleman with $7000 was waived through.

Quite a different screening process than I've ever been subjected to. Is something up? Not sure. But given the discussions on banks being required to notify the feds on cash withdrawls, Citi and others calling for a 'cashless society', and now this level of screening, it just feels odd.
Best, Steve

May 18, 2015

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