A Travel Scam I’d Never Heard of and Former PM of Norway Detained at Dulles Airport

News and notes from around the interweb:

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Because people tend to make judgment calls after one instance of negative news, I want to assure people that there is a tremendous need for assistance in Cambodia, some of which was caused by US bombing of Cambodia and some caused by US involvement because of initially supporting the current very corrupt regime.

    I just returned from a service learning trip to Cambodia. It is a far cry from a volunteer vacation, indeed no vacation at all. Part of my job was to assess various volunteer placements for Global Service Corps, an Oregon based non profit with over 20 years of experience in developing nations. One of the sites I visited 3 times while in Phnom Penh is an orphanage. It is very legit and doing amazing work. I can tell you that working with a non profit with a long standing track record will be assurance that your work placement will have been thoroughly vetted, as should you be. I had to go through a background check in the US because I would be working with children in Cambodia. Trafficking and abuse are huge problems in Cambodia. Please do what you can for Cambodia. It isn’t much on the radar screen and the needs are huge.

    Gary, it would be wonderful if you could counter balance the negative reports in a future post.

  2. @Zippy Pam – I definitely agree with you, my perhaps too subtle point here is to investigate causes and charities before getting involved if your goal is to actually help (rather than just feel good)

  3. @Zippy
    Blaming Cambodia’s problem on the US ? That’s ridiculous. I think there might be some other more important factors you might have skipped over in a rush to blame the US for anything and everything wrong in the world.

  4. Your link: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/03/former-norway-pm-bondevik-held-washington-dulles-airport-2014-visit-iran is interesting. Quoting from the news story:

    “Bondevik said Dulles officials told him he had been detained because of a 2015 law signed by Barack Obama that placed restrictions on travellers from those seven countries, or travellers from elsewhere who had recently visited those countries.”

    First time I have heard that Obama is to be credited with folks being held up with immigration at the airport. Now that is really news!

  5. “Former Prime Minister of Norway, traveling on a diplomatic passport, was detained at Washington Dulles.. because Iran.”

    — Because IRAN– .. really? That’s a low-ball and condescending. First off Norway and Iran are 6000km apart – second, the travel ban is affecting a lot of people with valid visa’s and green cards – so making a joke like that on a country on the ban list is not funny – not even when it’s pun intended.

    Grow some balls Gary and find some good humor to write.

  6. This was NOT a joke, the US has gone so far that a former PM of Norway traveling on a diplomatic passport gets detained because of a previous business visit to Iran.

  7. No joke – the detention (or possible ban) seems akin to what is practiced in various other countries. If such countries see you have visited country X, you are interviewed or denied entry. As to whether diplomats or former diplomats should be given blanket special treatment, see various news reports concerning diplomatic passports being used for drug smuggling and human trafficking. Note in several reports the parties involved were credentialed ambassadors or royalty. The former PM of Norway might be a great guy or he may be another Son Young Nam. If Obama actually placed restrictions on travellers who had visited Iran recently, surely he had a sound reason.

  8. @AlohaDaveKennedy The world is sad how the conversation went from “USA is land of the free” to “Hey Saudi Arabia and China also do it”.

  9. It seems like the problem with the prime minister was a misunderstanding about an Obama law stating they people from countries that have a visa waiver to the US do need to check in if they have traveled to one of those 7 countries. The prime minister checked with the US embassy in Oslo and they said no problem. He can use the waiver visa but when he arrived in the US there was a misunderstanding. Could be because of the heightened scrutiny. But regardless somebody should have said: wait a second. He was a prime minister with diplomatic passport so maybe let’s not put him in a room with all these other people that need secondary screening. Let’s call the supervisor.

  10. Of course this is all Obama’s fault.

    Supreme leader trump will build another wall to solve this problem..whatever the problem is.

  11. AlohaDaveK,

    The Congressional Republicans were the main drivers for the blacklisting of VWP countries’ citizens who had visited Iran and other US-blacklisted countries. Obama just wasn’t willing to fight against the Republican-dominated Congress over the Republicans’ further restricting the US VWP. And so Obama didn’t use his veto power.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *