I’ve been to a relatively decent number of countries and airports now. I’m confident in saying that I’ve been to more countries and airports than 90% of the world’s population. Now that doesn’t say all that much since the bar is relatively low when it comes to traveling. Earlier this year, it was reported that 64% of Americans have never left the U.S. (Link) So I feel confident in saying that the majority of residents of less affluent countries such as China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil would have not travelled internationally or been to an airport. Of course, there are better authorities on this subject matter – people who travel much more regularly for work.
Recently, I’ve been really disgusted by the border control process when coming through America. Having Global Entry, I’m now mostly a bystander in the process – but the regular immigration lines in America are one of the longest in the world. It’s always to be expected that after a long trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific flight even American citizens will have to spend a minimum of 30 minutes to get back to the country. Non-citizens could spend hours just waiting in line. It was easy to think that was just the norm when I was growing up, but now I see that it really is not the case.
In my experience, the richest countries have the worst lines. The U.K., China, South Korea, Japan. My best experiences have been in Taiwan and Germany. This makes me wonder, do countries that have “a lot lose” – keep their borders more secure? Do longer lines / underemploying border control agents make the border more secure? In the case of Germany, perhaps their cultural attitude towards efficiency and modern history of relatively lenient immigration policies have made those line short.