Back from Seattle

Just got back from MVP Global Summit 2007 in Seattle. Among usual things, like watching Bill's keynote, meeting other MVPs, DirectX/XNA guys, getting a grip of some NDA information and such, here are some of the other highlights:

Amsterdam airport:
Officer: You speak English sir?
Me: Yeah.
O (takes a look at my passport): Ah, you speak Russian of course!
M: No, not really.
O: But your language is very similar to Russian, right?
M: Hm...
Well, here we know who gets the Linguist of the Year award.

Seattle-Tahoma airport, lady at checkin: "what kind of passport is that?". It also takes 5 times to enter my last name properly, from the printed letters in the passport. Each time trying to persuade me that I did change the ticket date of course!

Seattle-Tahoma airport, security: "sir, you have been selected for additional screening". Do they randomly select people for that quite involved process? Why this "selection" happens immediately after they take a look at my passport?

Random quotes:
Ten minutes walk is a long distance! Ten minutes of walking distance in the States is a very good reason to buy a car. At least SUV; preferably a Hummer.
DirectX SDK is the source of all sorts of high frequency goodness.
Sony is always good at announcements.
No? Rumours on the internet? Shock! Horror!

The big question is... how throughout was the "additional screening"? ;)
It was pretty good. I did not have much stuff, but they looked through all of it, opened the camera and laptop, checked with some sort of devices etc.

The question for me is whether the criteria for screening is random, or "we'll just check everyone with strange passport or whatever".
I (an American) was lucky enough to get that extra special treatment when departing the US once. They gave all my electronic stuff (iPod, laptop, digital camera) a good going through, swiping it with some wad of fabric to check for explosives. They asked loads of questions about where I was going and why, double-checking my passport, etc.

That having been said, the vast majority of those that get the special treatment seem to be foreigners on the way out of the US, so I'd say it's 80% "you look strange or your passport looks strange" and 20% "let's check this random sucker".
Most of the time it's not the passport - it's the ticket, airlines do at least a big part in the screening selection process (they are the ones who have all your ticket data after all). And the best way to get yourself extra checked is to book a one way flight with 6-7 friends :D

a nice article about how things work
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