Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The E-Gate: A Time Saving Device

Once again, a classic example of "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

Touted as another time-saving device and bastion of efficiency, the new E-Gate system for resident card holders is now out of its experimental phase and has been brought fully online for mainstream use at Muscat International Airport.

How to use it? Simple!

Insert your resident's card into the machine - just like the picture that is taped to it.
Walk through the glass barrier when it opens.
Stop in the middle and turn to your right to face the "interrogation" screen. It's quite friendly and it even has a picture of a hand, telling you which finger to put onto the sensor to be scanned.

Then, when the machine has decided that you are who your resident's card claims you to be, it opens the second set of glass doors and you are free to go, with a cheery "Thank you" from the machine.

However, just like the parking ticket dispensers with, oh my God, no buttons!....a certain requirement has been overlooked: an IQ above 100.

I recently came in off a flight and having landed, I got chatting with a guy from Europe who was visiting for a few days business in Muscat. We got on the business class bus and disembarked at the terminal, whereupon we saw the Mumbai flight had arrived and he groaned at the visa queue.
"We're in for a long wait!" he said.

With a smug smile on my face, I displayed my resident's card and said "Not me, buddy! I'm off to the E-Gate! Where I just swipe....and go! See ya!"

I arrived at the gate. About twenty people in front of me.
The following occurred for about eighteen of them:

Push card into machine, except put in it upside down, completely ignoring the photo-guide.
Watch in horror as the machine goes beep.
Push it in again. This time a bit harder because that always works, doesn't it?
Have a stunted conversation with the Immigration guy about the machine not working and then finally either through blind luck or someone else's charity, put card in the right way.

Walk through the glass doors, fuming, and then walk straight into the opposite glass barrier with enough force to actually lift the machine off the ground.
Take a half step back and try to push your way through again, ignoring the voice from the machine that is trying to get your attention.
Look in utter incomprehension at the Immigration guy again as he points, for the thousandth time that day to the fingerprint scanner.

Look at the screen.
Bend at the waist and squint at the information on it, again ignoring the aural instructions.
Fumble around in your bag for your glasses, then drop them, and bash your head on the side of the display panel as you retrieve them.

For at least ten seconds, so it really sinks in, stare at the picture of the thumb being shown on the screen and then place your index finger on the scanner, because on your planet, that is where your thumb is.

Ogle quizzically at the screen again as it beeps and tells you that you have made an error.
Ignore the picture of the thumb again and turn to the crowd with a spastic look on your face that says "I should not be allowed to travel anywhere without proper supervision."

Wait for someone with a vastly higher IQ than you, to step forward and, with a tone of voice normally used on high-risk inmates at an insane asylum, show you which digit to place on the scanner.

Only another nineteen folks to go - by which stage, my friend from the bus is already in his suite at the InterCon.

Time taken per person: about 2 minutes for most - apart from the "special" ones who try and smash their way through the barrier and then require knee physio.

OAMC and the rest of need to sit down and actually think these things through!


Sythe said...

I nipped over to Bahrain last week, and witnessed this with my own eyes. I couldn't conceive how stupid the guy was - he just could not wrap it around his head that he had to put his right thumb on the scanner, he said no, it's his index finger.

Even after we called over the immigration guy and he literally pointed to the screen then to his hand and then to his specific finger, the guy just could not do it.

We left him standing there, in the company of an ROP guy. Muppet.

fred_says said...

hilarious JD... but sadly so apt

the only problem for us is our kids who dont have this option so we still have to join the queue..... however, 2 toddlers running around like blue arsed flies screaming and shouting normally gets us to the front of the queue.... heheheheh

Anonymous said...

JD, you're being a bit harsh on (probably?) non-educated Asian labourers; although there's plenty of UK/US who are equally poor at following instructions (in their own language)
Are the voice instructions nationality/language specific, or limited to Arabic and English?

(leaving last week it was actually faster going to a desk with no queue, than joining 6 people at the egate who were still there after I'd had my passport stamped)

Jet Driver said...


"JD, you're being a bit harsh on (probably?) non-educated Asian labourers;"

Not at all!
These folks were an eclectic mix of Asians and Europeans.
There's global balance of incompetence!


muscateeress said...

Between yours and UD site, can't stop giggling...thanks for a great start to the weekend xx

Jet Driver said...


We aim to inform and to please!


Bobby said...

Good gracious!

I was kinda eager to use the thing....

and yeah, the same thing is seen at the ATM users....bloody..can't they see the pic!!

Nadia said...

Umm... you neglected to mention the fact that their beautiful new E-Gate system has its faults. I was flying back from Europe, it was midnight, I was totally jet-lagged after 28 hours in airports, I get to the E-Gate and think 'Whoopee, this is going to be quick and I can finally head to a real bed!'..

Well, no such luck. I scanned my card, got into the finger-zone (as I call it) and the screen says 'error' .. The guy supervising kept on saying 'press harder!' 'Press harder'! My finger began to hurt. Three guys tried solving my problem .. the machine wouldn't recognize my fingerprints.

Instead of saying 'We're sorry, it seems the machines are malfunctioning, you can head to the regular immigration counter' .. the guy gave me a dumb look and said 'Madam, maybe this is not your ID card'.


I almost burst out laughing.

I'm thinking OAMC airport staff need IQ testing before being hired to supervise the E-Gates.

Jet Driver said...


I think IQ tests should be mandatory for all members of this planet when turning 18!

If you fail, you get sent to some "Colony for the Inept".


Kishor Cariappa said...

I have always seen Omani staff helping out people who can’t get it right at these e-gates.

Anonymous said...

They were all 'bust' and taped off arrival this morning (EK flight)....this after being 'directed' to them after the 'swine-flu' contingency plan 'in-place' for returning residents of course. Hence...chaos resumed. I just quickly darted to the visit visa desk.....job done.


Anonymous said...

Air India, personal services for pilots from cabin crew, mid air scuffles! Are you working for the right airline they seem to be having far more fun!

Um Sarah said...

Lol, I haven't laughed so much in, well, ages! For all you know JetDriver, I could be among them... I'm real bad with technology!

Jet Driver said...

Anonymous 1

Yep - like most things. They never buy the service plan that goes with it, and rather operate on a "kick up a massive fuss and badger the supplier to come and fix it for free" !

Anonymous 2

I can tell you a story about a certain Indian airline pilot who was rushed to hospital after landing - suffering from a broken jaw that the captain had given to him in an argument over an in-flight meal.

Um Sarah

Possibly! :)