As a follow up to our article on Friday on the U.S. border's Global Entry program
, the following reprinted piece, written by Donna Vieira, editor of DREAMSCAPES Magazine
, warns of a problem she and her husband incurred when using their Nexus pass, a similar program for crossing the border between Canada and the U.S.
From my travel bag
by Donna S. Vieira, editor DREAMSCAPES
On a recent trip, I was anxious to test out an innovative carry-on bag created by Balanzza. All packed and ready to go, I had found the perfect scenario for the traveller who hates to check luggage. It allowed me to pack enough clothing for a three-week vacation along with my toiletries and my trusty laptop in three separate pieces that snapped together into one convenient parcel, which, I was assured, fit perfectly in the overhead compartment.
Proudly, I wheeled my new acquisition through the airport fully expecting our stroll through U.S. Customs and airport security to be a walk in the park. My husband and I decided to forego the lineups and test-drive our Nexus cards in an airport environment. Living within a 15-minute drive of the U.S. border, we always use Nexus on our regular cross-border excursions but had never attempted to use it at an airport. This was our opportunity.
Nexus cards in hand, we approached the machines and tapped on the screen. My husband went first and, once he had gone through all the iris detection procedures and ensuing questions, the machine spit out his card. I followed suit with the same successful results. That was easy, we thought. Feeling very smug, we glanced back at the long lineup at Passport Control and proceeded toward the security station where a uniformed officer asked to see that all our documents were in order.
Mine passed inspection, however, "Mr. Vieira," he announced, "you're in trouble. Your documents have expired. You'll have to see an officer in the Secondary Security Clearance area." He pointed to glazed glass doors. We were stunned. Our passports were valid and so were our Nexus cards. What expired documents was he talking about?
What did this mean? Were we going to be denied entry into the USA? Timidly we approached an officer and explained our predicament as best we could. He told us to sit with a dozen others who awaited their inspections and verdicts. Five minutes later, we were called.
Apparently, my husband had renewed his passport a year ago but had neglected to report it to the Nexus office in Fort Erie. Therefore the passport number they had on file had expired. We had been told we had to present new passports when we were first issued the Nexus card, however that was four years ago and, to be honest, we simply forgot. To make matters worse, in the officer's eyes, my husband had violated the law every time we drove across the border using our Nexus cards. The officer reiterated numerous times that the onus was on us to follow procedures before he agreed to release us from the area, but not before putting a note on my husband's file about this "violation."
Still apprehensive, we went through airport security. My carry-on went through inspection like a trooper. We, however, could not help looking over our shoulder. Would the officer change his mind, pull us from the ranks and send us home? Thankfully, no one appeared and we made our way to the flight departure gate without further ado.
The next challenge would be the overhead compartment in the aircraft. Would my newfound travel companion fit? Of course, like a glove. It even caught the attention of a flight attendant on board. I couldn't resist giving her a quick demonstration on how beautifully engineered this masterpiece truly was.
Needless to say, my Balanzza travel bag and I have become inseparable and will be sharing many more adventures in the coming years. And you can be sure my husband and I will never forget to register newly-issued documents with Nexus ever again.
P.S.: My husband did register his new passport and, thankfully, his Nexus card was not revoked, but not without a warning and a curt reminder that he had to report his new driver's license when it expires in August.