Regarding Letters, March 6: First, kudos to [letter writer] Joe McGrath for his comments on "Global Entry Denial Brings Up Old Charge" [by Catharine Hamm, Feb. 28]. He has it entirely correct. The applicant did not apologize for his crimes or for lying about them. Frankly, the government should not have granted redress.
Re: "Family Seating," the letter writer talks about booking and making a "family reservation." Frankly, I am at a loss here. When I book airline tickets, I first select my travel dates, then my choice of flights, then proceed to seat selection. I pick the seats I want. If there are not sufficient seats together for my party, I change flights, airlines or dates until I can find what I want.
No airline has ever not seated my group together, mainly because I always pick my seats myself. And the same applies to the letter writer, whom I presume is always vigilant about predators; travelers should select the seats they prefer. Again, if that is not possible, then change the travel parameters.
Are there any Travel Letters readers who are not terminal whiners?
I also was denied Global Entry approval after forgetting an arrest 40 years earlier when I was 17. The interviewing agent repeated the question three times before I remembered an arrest resulting in a dismissal and the records being sealed under a youthful offender program in New York.
It took two months to track down and obtain a copy of the disposition of the arrest, which had been contracted to an archival service in Illinois.
Attempts to appeal were denied. I can only assume that a charge of trespassing and possession of a hash pipe (a.k.a. "narcotic instrument") makes me a national security risk as a parent, homeowner and law-abiding citizen 40 years later.
As a footnote, even without Global Entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to confuse me with someone on a watchlist. Application of a special "redress" number intended to differentiate me from my doppelgänger has proved ineffective, as I've been relegated to secondary screening (a room filled with anxious and uncertain immigrants) four times in the last five years.
It annoys and angers me that I am more welcomed as a visitor elsewhere in the world than as a U.S. citizen returning home to my own country.
The elegant hotels and glitzy brewpubs described in the Truckee feature ["Both Downhill and Uptown," by Spencer Spellman, Feb. 28] are in glaring contrast to the brutal suffering and many months of misery the loosely named Donner Party endured there in the winter of 1846-47, after a freak early snowstorm prematurely halted their journey. It was hardly a party.
Donner Memorial State Park, briefly mentioned, is well worth visiting, if only to better understand the extreme living conditions and historical context of this tragedy in early California.
The Pioneer Monument pictured in the article is built to the exact height of the snowpack level that grueling winter. The people in the photo underneath look tiny by comparison.
Playa del Rey