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Good To be Back Home

As Randy Quaid said in the movie Independence Day as he crashed his plane into the alien space ship, “I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!”

You can expect updates pretty much on a daily basis until I hit the road again in July.

I don’t know exactly when it was but at some point, I started to think of Hong Kong as “home” rather than the U.S. I know I am glad to be back in Hong Kong. My U.S. trip had some very rough patches. The worst was getting food poisoning in Philadelphia complete with paramedics and a short stay in the Emergency Room of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital lying on a gurney in one of the hallways for 5 hours. Reminded me of the TV program ER.

In the midst of my agony, I had to chuckle at the irony of getting food poisoning at the famous Bourse Food Court in Philadelphia after eating food from every imaginable restaurant, food stall and food cart in Asia and never experiencing any ill effects.

My last stop in the US was L. A. International Airport. I was embarrassed, as an American, at the inefficiency and downright callousness of the personnel involved in Security. The luggage check-in process whereby the passenger must stand in line to have their bags inspected then wait to have someone accompany them to the counter to check-in must have been designed as some kind of torture test by a descendant of Attila the Hun. Why you can’t at least check in and then drop your bags at the security point is totally beyond my comprehension. That is unless some politician owns the company that provides the luggage handling services.

The security queue was 35-40 minutes long and I was in the shorter of the two lines. In addition, they had only one checkpoint open at the heaviest departure time for Asian flights from the Bradley Terminal. Four checkpoints were unused and only took up needed space. One checkpoint was reserved for crew and a few lucky folks who were plucked from the regular queue and re-directed to the crew checkpoint. Most of the time 4 or 5 people were just standing around looking like they needed something to do. They certainly weren’t doing any good at LAX.

Hong Kong International, in contrast, almost always has at least two checkpoints open and does every bit as thorough a job as any US airport. I’ve never waited longer than 10 minutes to get through security at Chek Lap Kok. It has to be a matter of training, competence and customer focus that makes the difference.

I’m often forced by circumstances to leave from LAX on my return to Hong Kong but whenever I can depart from any other airport, I do so.

I contend that Hong Kong International ranks one or two in the world on any airport rating scale. LAX ranks near or at the bottom. You can read my previous comments on the differences between Chek Lap Kok and LAX in “A Tale of Two Airports.”