-3

I am a U.S. citizen residing in Switzerland. I was returning to Switzerland from a short vacation in Georgia (the country) with a connection in Munich.

The passport control agent at the Munich Airport treated my U.S. passport and Swiss residence permit as possibly fake.

He examined my passport slowly and repeatedly, and eventually asked if I have a problem with my passport. He also took a long time looking at my residence permit, and I think he said something about its color.

After 15 minutes of scrutinizing my passport and residence permit as if they were possibly fake, he let me through, but the delay was just long enough for me to miss my connecting flight.

I think that passport control agents at the Munich Airport see U.S. passports and Swiss residence permits many times per day and know very well what they look like.

So, I think I was a victim of misconduct by the passport control agent, and would like to complain. What would be the most effective way of complaining? I hope that there would be some consequences for this.

Edit: I was rebooked for the next flight by the airline. The flight was almost 4 hours later, and this had a negative impact on my schedule for the day.

While waiting for the connecting flight, I talked about the incident to another passport control agent. He agreed with me that what happened was wrong.

He gave me a press relations email address of the police at the Munich Airport and suggested to email my complaint to it. However, I am not sure if this is the most effective way of complaining, and that's why I am asking this question here.

1
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Willeke
    Apr 21 at 10:02

4 Answers 4

8

I agree with many of the comments that you should plan on spending 15 minutes in immigration control. Compared to some stories from the American CBP, this sounds harmless. The German officer presumably knows US passports, his or her job is to tell the real thing from a good fake.

  • You can file a criminal complaint with the prosecutor if you believe that the officer acted criminally. You do not have to know the name of the officer to do that, but a simple "someone at Munich airport took too long" might quickly be closed as impossible to resolve.
  • You can file a formal complaint with the police if you believe that the officer acted unprofessionally. This should be done in writing and it would be routed to the superior of the officer, who gets to fill out paperwork and might take that unhappiness to the officer in question. The German term is Dienstaufsichtsbeschwerde, presumably you can find someone in Switzerland to help you with the letter. Again there would be the question if you can specify who and when, exactly.
  • There is a web form for complaints.

And finally, the words of the other officer might simply be using de-escalation in an encounter with an agitated member of the public, rather than a professional assessment of the performance of a colleague.

7

What would be the most effective way of complaining?

What's the point? What are you hoping to achieve with complaining?

Don't complain. Just let it go. You're wasting your time and the time of the people handling complaints. You were allowed to transit, and you reached your destination, just with a delay. There is nothing good that you can achieve with complaining. They're not going to give you a Starbucks voucher for the inconvenience. If you had been held for three days and your rights had been violated, you would have grounds to complain. For a 15-minute delay, you do not.

2
  • 4 hours is not 15 minutes
    – njzk2
    Apr 26 at 18:29
  • @njzk2 The 4-hour delay was a consequence of a tight connection, which is not the responsibility of border control.
    – gerrit
    Apr 27 at 7:24
4

Two possibilities:

If both flights were under the same ticket, the airline needs to find you an alternative flight. It's their responsibility too take you to your destination. Airlines sometimes sell tight connections, and they know that occasionally people will miss their plane and take the next one. Happened to me twice. You should have contacted the airline representative at the airport. If they refused to help, contact their complaints department.

If you booked your flights separately, the blame is entirely on you. When planning a connection you should prepare for delays - flight delays, long queues or extra scrutiny. I wouldn't risk such a connection if it's less than several hours, even a day.

Anyway, the immigration officer just did their job, which is to verify that your documents are in order. I have no idea what made them suspicious, but it's their job to resolve such suspicions, even if it takes time.

8
  • 8
    @Jake I really don’t see what your complaint is, especially given you were rebooked. The IO was doing his job, US Border officials are pretty unwelcoming too. Blame the airline for scheduling a tight connection
    – Traveller
    Apr 20 at 20:22
  • 12
    I know you are annoyed, but taking 15 min to process your passport is not misconduct. It just isn't. Apr 20 at 20:26
  • 2
    @JonathanReez I think it’s an answer to the rant part of the question :-)
    – jcaron
    Apr 20 at 21:39
  • 4
    @Traveller it absolutely should not take 15 minutes for a German immigration officer sitting at a computer terminal to determine the authenticity of a Swiss residence permit and the passport associated with it. Another German passport agent apparently shares this view. The question is not as unreasonable as people seem to think.
    – phoog
    Apr 20 at 21:41
  • 5
    @Marianne013 it could be misconduct if the officer was deliberately delaying the traveler for some illegitimate reason and misrepresenting the reason for the delay to make it seem legitimate.
    – phoog
    Apr 20 at 21:43
3

Your choices for registering a complaint are:

  • the e-mail address you received
  • finding a phone number on the Federal Police's website
  • finding the street address and sending your complaint in via snail mail

The most effective way is probably by e-mail or phone. E-mail wins points by being very easy to do while on the phone you can rest assured that you were heard and maybe even understood.

As for consequences, don't get your hopes high. A supervisor might talk to the agent on duty about their suspicion and conduct. The agent will most likely have a compelling reply. There will likely be no further consequences. Most notably, there will absolutely be no consequences that you as a traveller will feel – unless if you're very unlucky and Munich Airport Federal Police flag you as someone needing extra scrutiny when passing through passport control. (I don't assume that'll happen; too many people pass through every day in normal times.)

Complaining is a very German thing to do so they will certainly have a procedure to deal with it, even if that procedure is filing it under D for deleted.

1
  • Cops in Germany are drowning in paperwork, and they can't simply put a complaint into the waste bin. Someone has to read it, someone has to file it, someone has to file the response.
    – o.m.
    Apr 22 at 17:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.