I have no idea how different countries’ passport control stations work. Some countries (Malaysia, for example) make EVERYONE fill out customs forms, exit the airport and then re-enter before heading to their connecting flight. Other places (Brazil) have no problems allowing passengers to freely wander about the airport to find their next gate.
Then, more specifically, the individual passport control stations each have their own nuances. I’ll admit I don’t travel through international airports enough to find similarities, but I did have a unique experience connecting through Toronto, Canada a few years back.
In late August of 2005 I was heading to Toronto for work. I aimed for the young woman on the far end of passport control because she looked less surly and menacing as some of her co-workers. Since I was working for an American media outlet, covering an event being broadcast back to the United States I had no issues and swiftly passed through Customs.
Two weeks later, my wife and I were en route to Italy and had a connecting flight through Toronto. Pearson Airport was (at the time) one of those airports where one goes through customs, exits the secure area and re-checks their bag. In doing all of this, I had to go through passport control again, and again, found the least surly-looking person to deal with.
It happened to be the same girl as two weeks prior, and she opened up my passport and said “I just saw you!” I presume she just stamps passports in the same place in everyone’s book, but it caught her and I both off-guard. I faced slightly more grilling round of questions, but since we were passing through to Italy we didn’t endure too much.
Those couple of Canadian Visa stamps have become some of my favorite passport stamps. Considering Egypt takes up two pages of my passport, and China takes up a page-and-a-half, you’d think two small Canadian stamps wouldn’t mean much to me, but apparently they do. If I were to guess, I’d say because they are the beginning of my true travel addiction. I’ve been to nearly 40 countries since then, but it was fun doing a work trip and two weeks later passing through en route to the first of several countries with my wife.