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back to article US makes travellers go online, before getting onboard

Anyone travelling to the US on the Visa Waiver scheme will now have to get pre-approved online before they can board a plane. From Wednesday you will need to get the go-ahead from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. ESTA approval should only take a few minutes but it is recommended that you apply at least 72 hours in …

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pre-approved ????

Come on! What's wrong with approved?

As for the scheme, that seems to be a message to tourists basically saying "We don't want you here". Fair enough I won't go there.

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Anonymous Coward

Well spotted.

"Pre-approved" means you don't need to be approved, after you've been pre-approved, but you can still be dis-approved when you actually arrive. Useful, no?

It's called government spin to try and con the gullible by being mealy-mouthed. This has for decades been the hallmark of what now passes for "good government", and with the ramping up of the farm production, the more equal than others are ramping up the spin too. Have to keep the plebs quiet, donchaknow.

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"We don't want you here"

The real message is

If you are too pour to have an internet connection, We don't want you here

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Agreed

Yep, they really do seem to be saying keep away you are not welcome here.

Perhaps this is an effort to "Go green". If all the Europeans stay put for their holidays (perhaps going to Venice for a quick break) and the Americans can go to Vegas (perhaps to that fake Venice) then we have saved a huge amount of air miles and that has to be good for the environment. Plus the only people of the planes will be the terrorists and the business travellers and then separating the wheat from the chaff should be a little easier.

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Stop

pre-approval

I really like being pre-approved, like when the US auto-dialers call me up and tell me that "You've been Pre-approved to received this call" .. which results in me pre-approving my hanging-up on them.

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Anonymous Coward

To be fair to the Americans...

...but exactly how is their scheme different from the ETA scheme that the Australians have been running for years and which I've never heard anyone here in the UK complain about?

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ETA = tax not data mining

Australia doesn't want to know loads of details like how you paid for plane ticket nor do they want it 72 in hours in advance.

The ETA is just a tax on tourists arriving in the country.

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Black Helicopters

I for one....

Welcome the move. The Americans can all sit tight knowing that 9/11 cannot happen again, thanks to this system. Presumably it means we no longer need to be irradiated before we fly and we can now take big alarm clocks with lumps of plasticene and curly wires on board aircraft.

Or is it one further stage of making the world think america is up its own a-hole?

(note to any Feds reading this, the above is a joke, and not a specific threat. Plasticene is a fun and inert playstuff and will not render my underpants any more dangerous than they already are)

Wait... i think there is a knock on the door........

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Makes me want to stay at home

Well, that is just one more reason to not go to America as far as I am concerned.

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Unhappy

Tit for Tat

If the U.S. government wants to impose these meaningless and petty regulations on people visiting the U.S.A. it is about time European governments reciprocated.

Let all these Americans who think they can tramp around the world without visas learn that what is good for foreigners is good enough for them."

All this 'security' is for nothing. It is simply a public relations exercise intended to persuade the travelling public the governments are actually doing something.

Christmas Day proved just what a waste of energy it all is.

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Happy

Yup...

People always act surprised when I mention that Americans need to pay $100 (last I checked) for a tourist visa to go to Brazil. But almost no one else asks us for visa!?, people say. Well, Brazilians have to pay $100 to get a tourist visa to the USA, so... Reciprocity. A Romanian friend of mine was very happy about that, when he had to pay only $20 for his visa to visit Brazil, but the Merkins had to pay 5 times more. :-)

You should have seen the indignation, gnashing of teeth, etc. that ensued when the Brazilian border control started taking pictures and fingerprints (with ink, no less, because we didn't have those optical readers) of all Americans, reciprocating for their (at the time) new rules that demanded that. It didn't last long, but was fun to see for a while, it was all over the news there.

Would that make less tourists visit Brazil and bring money? Definitely. So what? Our dignity can't be bought for so little. If you offer more, we can start considering...

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Coat

Tit for tat?

That's Brazil off my list of places to go then. Presumably British tourists get shot in the head.

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Def
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Re: Tit for tat?

Only the electricians.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh yes, the visa that isn't a visa at all, nosiree

I was quite amazed to learn that before 1914, people needed no papers whatsoever, so no passport, no visa, and no id card, nevermind to be enrolled in this scheme or that database, to travel all of europe.

This was changed in the war, obviously, but never thereafter unchanged. Curious. What a big leap forward schengen is, don't you agree? Knowing the contemporary state of the art will help us predict when the EU will "reciprocate", which they should because the USoA is really big on that and expects everybody else to do unto them as they do unto everybody else. They said so themselves on their Department of State's Official Website.

I for one, if elected, would scrap as many id requirements as I can get away with, just to see the chaos that ensues. Then we can work out what parts of the whole rigamole are really needed, which is probably, seeing the current systems' effectiveness, somewhere below the 5% mark of system and even lower for "hassle". But that would be truly innovative in contemporary government, so it'll never happen. Our politicians like this year of our lord nineteenhundred and eighty four far too much.

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WTF?

It's been like that for years.

When I travelled to the Land of the Fee in late 2008 I had to fill out the online form. It may not have been technically compulsory, but BA wouldn't let me check in without it. And yes, I had to fill out the stupid paper form as well ("Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of any pinko socialist commie organisation such as any British political party?"). I complained that I'd already filled it in online, and was told quite apologetically that the systems weren't talking to each other yet.

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WTF?

Virgin Atlantic

Yup, exactly the same story with Virgin Atlantic in summer '09. In fact they made me go upstairs and find an Internet cafe to do it.

At least I wouldn't have to fill in the green form and the blue form though. That would be silly. Oh... wait...

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So what!

"The European Union has criticised the change as effectively a move to visas. This will become more of an issue should the US follow through with threats to charge for the process. "

So it's back to what it used to be. Who Cares. Time was that you applied for a visa and then eventually a select few nations who were willing to tug their forelocks were given access to a waiver program. Wow!

So now, you have to log on and fill in a form... Still beats queuing at the embassy.

And in the interests of making sure that unsavoury types are prevented from entering the UK and/or EU, we should have a visa application program with full genetic and intelligence screening applied to all travellers who carry a US passport. I suspect the intelligence test will halt a few of them at the borders.

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FFS, charge for it?

They want to charge for it as well! B'startds. I wonder how much that will cost.

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Charge for it

I think they should charge for it, but you get a full refund if you are proven to be a terrorist by ticking the box 'are you now or have you ever been ...'.

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Sort of makes you wonder...

...if you can only travel if you are able to get online. I wonder if Travel Agents will ask at booking time whether you are able to fill in the form on the Internet, or whether there will be little old ladies refused at check-in because they do not have a computer. (I'm assuming that if you can buy your ticket online then, well, you can fill in an online form).

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Anonymous Coward

It's no problem...

...the little old ladies without computers have all been sued by the recording industry, so they can't afford to travel regardless.

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Travel agent

IF you book at a travel agent and don't have internet access yourself, i'm sure the travel agent will be happy to provide the service of filling out the form for you, for a fee.

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Black Helicopters

Visa Waiver

I always wondered what 'moral turpitudes' were. But then it does ask if you've been convicted of one of them and nothing I've ever done has led to a conviction....at least, not yet.

Then there's 'are you a spy?' Answer: 'Yes, arrgghh, I mean no, sorry, first day on the job and all that...'

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Joke

Moral turpitude?

It's what you use to wash out moral paintbrushes.

Note that I am treating this issue with the respect it deserves.

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Stop

That's shocking!

Well done, sir! Now get out.

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Anyone think...

That it's steps like these that'll eventually lead to WW3 between the EU and the USA..... I mean seriously all this intolerance and paranoia cannot be good for human society!

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Anonymous Coward

Pay to enter the USA?

Why the hell would you want to do that?

What is it with the Septics assuming that their nation is the best on the planet? Jay-zuz.

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I like it

I quite like the process. Much easier to fill the form in online and print it out. I got 'approved' within seconds when I filled it in for when it first started last year.

Updating it for my current trip (I am currently in the US and flying back to the UK tomorrow) was easy enough and painless.

Much easier than trying to write on a green form when you are on an airplane, remembering where you are staying a contact telephone number etc. Especially when the plane could be going through turbulance.

I think its a change for the better - but a lot of people hate change.....

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@I like it

You still have to fill in the green form as well.

The odd thing about th eonline one is that it's valid indefinetly for multipel trips but requires you to put the flight number and address you will be staying.

Suggests a distinct lack of joined-up thinking.

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But

When I went out at the start of Jan. I needed the online thing AND the bit of paper filled in on the plane.

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Anonymous Coward

Makes sence but

The whole process was litteraly a few hours before landing here is a small check list for you to go thru: are you aterroist, communist, plans to do bad etc etc - answear no and that was it. I'm supprised that this alone wasn't enough, now they want the anwears from you before you even get on the plane. Why, that would make the information actualy useful and allow it to be checked prior to people getting on a flight. Crazy people :).

But the whole airport security is IMHO more a case of plicating passangers than actualy doing the job. I mean seriously you cant take a knife onto the plane but you can take a very sharp pointed pen or pencil easily as - heck even if you aint got one I'm sure they would give you one on the plane to fill out there forms. think the penny has dropped and it wont be long until we cant take a pen onto the plane.

What scares me most on aimarican flights is not the fact that people are not allowed weapons onto the plane but the fact the authorities actualy put weapons onto the plane with a few homeland security peeeps who are there to keep an eye on questionable people. Fact is that a few people can get onto a flight and one can be sat in a position were they look paniced prior to the flight enough to dictate were these homeland security people sit is another concerning aspect of how security is run thesedays.

Still at least they now offer internet on planes - is this internet 100% physicaly secuired against all the planes control systems or is it 100% secured by a peace of software like a firewall as I fear its the latter.

Though there is one positive aspect to be drawn from this change in vettings, at least they listern to what you have to say and dont fill in the blanks themselfs, or do they, is this form mearly a placebo. Bottom line I personaly think the whole aspect of people wanting to kill others in the name of some invisable man who at the same time is heard as a profit of epace by a majority is frankly more fucked up than any security process in place to stop these people.

If I did a security questionaire it would be along the lines of this:

Do you believe in God? ( and dont lie coz he is watching you.)

if they answear yes then they dont get to fly.

A very crude way but alot more effective sadly.

Now if they isn't enough then the next laywer of questions would be introduced and be:

Are you a virgin ?(incorrect answears will lead to you losing your sexual orgins)

these two simple questions would allow you to identify all current and potentual terroists of the type of terroists we have today.

i would put the joke monica upon this but at a ironic level of justice we seem to wich to impose its about as close to the truth as you can get. Is this an inditement upon security today or religion today.

Indeed is security now index linked to levels of religion, I'm sure somebody could write a book upon that if they havn't already.

}->

ANON becasue somebody might thing I was twittering about an airport :|

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Anonymous Coward

Control system isolation

"Still at least they now offer internet on planes - is this internet 100% physicaly secuired against all the planes control systems or is it 100% secured by a peace of software like a firewall as I fear its the latter."

I have very good knowledge of how these systems work... the control systems are indeed physically isolated from the internet systems.

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Welcome

so what......

what’s the big deal?

I travel regular to the USA for holidays with my family and can’t understand what the problem is.

Ok, so you need an internet connection to fill the online form in, but if you can afford to pay the price of the ticket, then you can afford to have internet. if it is your choice not to have internet, then there are liberies or interwebby cafe's, friends or relatives houses etc.... failing that, try asking the travel agent you used to book your ticket if you can use the internet in the shop....

ok so the US immigration department have threatened to charge for the service, I doubt they will, probably just blowing hot air about in an attempt to shut people up crying about it... even i the did, how much will they charge? probably still a fraction of the cost of the price of the ticket, much less than the fucking fuel surcharge we have to pay, probably less than the 9/11 security tax....

personally, I will miss having to fill in the green card thing on the plane... it gives you something to do on a 9 and a half hour flight to Florida....

Also, the very first time I went to the USA, I was worrying about if they would refuse entry. At least if you know before you fly you won’t waste the time travelling...

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Go

Pas de probleme

Moreover, it's actually quite good if one travels to the USA many times per year as the form lasts for a long period (9-months or even 12-months IIRC) ... which is far better than filling the green form in every trip!

This rationalisation will be good too as I've been suffering from doing the form filling in triplicate: firstly by writing on green forms, secondly electronically on US government site, and thirdly on the bloody carriers' sites.

I'll confess that I did this new electronic one a bunch of times until it was pointed out to me that (a) it lasts for a reasonable period and doesn't have to be done for every trip and (b) one can renew it by entering same number into website.

Honestly, I cannot see the problem either and think it could be a rare occurrence of an IT system actually making a positive impact.

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The real reason

JaitcH: All this 'security' is for nothing.

On the contrary: It exists to employee more government flunkies and to piss away U.S. tax dollars....

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No problem

They probably have better broadband coverage in the tribal areas of Pakistan then we do in the USA.

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Stop

not-a-visa visa

It's a visa - so what do the yanks have to do if they want to visit Britain ... er nothing?

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errr nope.

Actually - US citizens DO have to do something. It is called a landing card. Same as the I-94 but without the silly questions about terrorists and war crimes.

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Max Mosley says

I'm not a Nazi ... although I did dress as one once. Does that count?

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Max

I would prefer it if it read 'Are you now, or have you ever been Max Mosley' with admittance barred with a yes answer.

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Joke

Royal Japes

Hasn't stopped Prince Harry going to USA!

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Anonymous Coward

No Nazi question

To be fair to the Americans it does not ask if you were/are a Nazi - it basically asks you if you were involved in war crimes in the period 1939-1945. So you could have been on any side.

The have you ever been convicted of a crime of "moral turpitude" is far more "interesting"

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History is written by the victors

'Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States that refers to "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals."'

So that's the last 50 years on 'merkin administrations totally fucked....

The really, really interesting on is the concept of war crimes 1939-1945.

In his autobiography, Chuck Yeager describes an operation he was assigned to, where the squadron were to sweep a designated area in Germany and strafe anything that moved. As the other pilot in the flight pointed out to Yeager “If we are going to do things like this, I hope we are going to win the war”

In his memoirs, Beyond Band of Brothers, Major Dick Winters describe Captain Ronald Speirs as a natural born killer, who some times killed for shock value, Winters says that nowadays, some of Speirs’s actions would be called “war atrocities”

Remember, history is written by the victors

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Anonymous Coward

Fuss about nothing

You only have to do it once every two years and it sure beats filling in the damed forms on the plane.

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Not really bothered

At least we're almost at the point where we won't need to fill out those awful green forms. Pisses me right off having to fill them in after getting up at 4am and travelling for 10+ hours.

They wouldn't be the first to start charging. When you get to Turkey you need to pay £10 each person. It has to be an English £10 note as they won't take Scottish money or any other denominations to make £10.

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FAIL

Another nail in the coffin...

... of the US tourist industry.

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Anonymous Coward

@Paul 87

> ... eventually lead to WW3 between the EU and the USA..

Oceania always has been and always will be allies with Eurasia.

Half a sec while I redraw the map of Eurasia to include Britain and Ireland.

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Grenade

Please help us stop this

As a Merkin this is now becoming far beyond silly. Please help us put this to bed. Dont come here anymore and cite this as the reason. A form to approve entry!!! I thought we were allied nations but I guess, as I often am with the government, was mistaken.

Grenade cause I'd like to put these under a few walls

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Stop

Ah but..

Most EU airports are gateways. Not everyone that pops off the airplane will be from the corresponding airport from which it came from.

(*Generalisation alert!*)

"Merakeens" authorities are nervous of those that use the EU as a gateway

Becareful with those 'nades

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title

i had to fill this since i have a connecting flight to Mexico from there. It's anoying since i wont even leave the airport, i am literally flying from heathrow to huston and then catching a connecting flight to Mexico.

I find the yanks attitude to British travelers anoying at best, i thought we were their closest ally? is it customary to make your closest allies sign a form saying that they were not a member of the nazi party and ask them if they are a terrorist, are a member of a terrorist organisation etc...

No i am bloody not and i take at offense at the notion that you think that i might be!

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