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At the queue for check-in at El Dorado airport in Bogota, all passengers were submitted to a series of questions by air-line staff (Delta) before reaching the check-in desk.

The questions I was asked were along the lines of "What cities did you visit?", "Can you name your hotel in Bogota?", "What national parks did you visit?" etc.

It wasn't a big issue at all, I'm just curious as to why the air-line staff (the air-hostesses) seemed to be asking these sorts of questions. I doubt they were customer research as my answers were not recorded and the questions held up the progression of the queue. I also had to present my passport. This was not at any security points at the airport either.

Why did the air-line staff want to ask these questions?

  • 3
    I'd guess US-mandated profiling to try to identify drug couriers, but this is just speculation. – jpatokal Feb 14 at 6:47
  • 2
    I wonder what happens if you refuse to answer. – JonathanReez Feb 14 at 7:01
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    @JonathanReez You will not be allowed check-in (if the interview is before checkin) or board (if it's done at the gate). Simple as that. – Doc Feb 14 at 7:37
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    It's probably because of all the pirated LEGO sets smuggled from Colombia. – Peter A. Schneider Feb 14 at 9:23
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    I wonder what if one says "Visiting farmers, prospecting possible business partners, chewing coca leaves and drinking coca tea" (note: all perfect legal) – jean Feb 14 at 12:45
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These interviews are standard for most flights to the US, and are mandated by the US government. Although similar rules have existed for several years, the latest round were announced in June of 2017, and came into effect 120 days later.

Although these interviews are mandated by the government, it is the responsibility of the airline to carry them out. In most locations the airlines will use some form of security staff to carry out the interviews, however it's certainly possible that other airline staff are used in some locations as you've stated.

As far as I'm aware, the exact requirements for these interviews is not something that is publicly available.

  • 5
    "standard for most flights to the us": I've never been asked such questions, and I've flown to the US probably two to the times a year on average for the last 20 years, mostly from western Europe, Turkey, and Canada, plus twice from Africa and once from the Caribbean. The closest to this sort of questioning I've ever experienced was from a CBP immigration officer at the land (well, water) border between Ontario and New York, who asked about my travel history in Turkey. – phoog Feb 14 at 7:58
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    I've been to Bogota a couple of times and never been asked these questions flying to Europe or US. Asked a couple of questions by emigration but not check in staff. – BritishSam Feb 14 at 8:10
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    Additional checks for flights to the US either before check-in or at the gate are quite common, though they're usually geared more towards security (terrorism) than drug trafficking or immigration issues. But I suppose they can adjust the questioning based on the risk profile of various origins and/or specific people. – jcaron Feb 14 at 12:17
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    +1 I think you can say they’re mandated but definitely not standard. Perhaps they’re now adhering more strictly to the protocol however clearly that’s not been the case previously. – cHiEf Immigration vIoLaTer Feb 14 at 13:17
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    the sentence fragment "standard for most flights to the US" is utterly incorrect. – Fattie Feb 14 at 13:39

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