In 2013 I had my first experience with UK customs at Heathrow Airport. I had never been to the UK before, but my soon-to-be-wife has UK roots. Her parents immigrated over here 20 years ago and she has tonnes of family in the UK still.
We were visiting her nan and other family she has in the UK. A couple of aunts and uncles, her other nan as well. What actually sparked this post was this news story I read about a debate in UK parliament about making it easier for Australian and New Zealand’s to travel, work and live in the UK.
Basically everything it says is true. While those from the EU can fly in and out of the UK without really being questioned, when I flew over (keep in mind this is December 2013, so it was busy and Christmas), we were throughly interrogated by a customs officer obviously looking to catch someone so he can get his pat on the back.
“Where are you staying?”, “Why are you coming to the UK”, “How much money do you have?”, “What is the address of the place you are staying at?”, “What is the name of the person you are staying with?”, “Can I see your travel itinerary”, “Can I have the phone number of the person you are staying with?”, “Can I see your return ticket?”
Fortunately Marie and I went through together because I didn’t know all of those questions. I didn’t know where her nan lived, her phone number or even her nan’s full name. I had travelled a few places prior and I get they ask questions, but this was next level questioning and felt like he was trying to find anything however small to deny me and Marie entering… At Christmas of all times.
After flying 24 hours in total to get to Heathrow from Brisbane in economy class, the last thing I want to be is interrogated without a valid reason. Ask questions, but don’t treat Australians like criminals (even if we are all a bunch of convicts).