Sunday, 13 February 2011

My Trousers and Airport Security

Late one recent Saturday evening, I am standing at a departure gate at Heathrow Airport. It is the furthest gate from the main terminal, and I am flying on the last plane out.

By now, it is just the passengers and the airline's own staff. The passengers are having the final passport and boarding pass check before getting onboard: a formality after a great deal of security and bag searching.

Everyone is a little tired; the rest of the airport looks dark and closed down for the night.

"Excuse me, sir. We would like to do a search?"


"We would like you to give us your handbag and step this way."

"OK. It is a manbag, or hand luggage. But not really a handbag."

"Yes, sir. This way."

My hand luggage is taken off to be searched again. I am now the last passenger at the gate. The flight is due to leave in about ten minutes.

"Sir, could you go behind the screen."

There is a screen in the corner of a kiosk, in the opposite corner to where my bag is now being searched and unpacked. The young security official follows me.

"Sir, can you take your jacket off."

"OK." I take off my jacket.

"And your shoes." I take off my shoes.

My shoes are looked at very carefully. I think of the shoe bomber, who also lived near Bromley. I begin to wonder if they are profiling people from urban north Kent.

"Sir, your trousers."


"Sir, please take your trousers off."

A pause.


"No?" The security official clearly was not expecting that response. He begins to look like he doesn't know what to do, bless him.

"You have no power to require me to do that. You also haven't also given any good reason. I am sure any genuine security concerns you have can be addressed in other ways. You do not need to invade my privacy in this manner."

A pause.

"I think you probably need to get your manager, don't you?". I try and be helpful.

He nods, hesitantly, and goes to get his manager, a middle-aged chap in a brown baggy suit.

"Hello sir."

"Hello." I smile.

"You won't take your trousers off?"

"No. It will be embarrassing and humiliating. You can't require me to do so, and you have no good reason to ask."

A pause. I smile again and nod encouragingly.


Another pause.

"Sir, there is actually no need for you to take your trousers off."

"Thank you. I thought not."

I put on my jacket and shoes.

"But sir, there is a problem with your handbag."

I pause.

This is the Edith Evans moment I have waited all my life for.

"My manbag?"

"Yes sir. It will have to travel separately."


"We have concerns."

I think of those who have teased me about my manbag, but I guess their doubts about me are not the same concerns as this security manager.

"You think my manbag could be dangerous?"

"It will need to go separately."

He gives me a plastic bag with what had been the contents of my manbag.

"In the hold?"

"No, too late. It will have to travel business class."

"My manbag is going business class?"

"Yes, sir. You can be reunited at the destination."

Later I think I should have offered to swap, but I was too stunned to be so opportunistic.

"This way for the plane."

I walk with the manager, me with my new carrier bag, him with my empty mangbag. We go down the slope to the aircraft.

"I bet this makes you feel safer?"

"Actually, it doesn't. Either security required me to take my trousers off, or it does not. Either my bag is too unsafe to travel, or it is not. I think this just shows bad decision-making. Bad decision-making by security does not make me feel safe."

A pause. I am hoping he is thinking about my sensible, heart-felt words.

We get to the aircraft. The chief steward takes my manbag for its trip by business class. I go into economy class: I am stared at as the one who may have delayed the plane.

I find my seat. The chap next to me asks what happened.

"Oh, just security stuff."

"No worries. It makes you feel safer, doesn't it."


I have deliberately not named the airline.

No purely anonymous comments will be published; always use a name for ease of reference by other commenters.


SteveGJ said...

I can only assume there was something in your "manbag" (men don't have hands?) that they didn't want you to have access to during the flight.

Of course, as far as removing the trousers go, there was the attempted underpants bomber.

A very odd story.

Nb. what was the libel worry over this story? I can only think leaving the airline anonymous means you are more concerned about future treatment than a libel concern.

MLR said...

Yes airport security staff sometimes act in an irrational / unreasonable manner. But to be honest I'd rather they took their job too seriously, than not seriously enough.

Margaret said...

You have the benefit of knowing the law. I don't.

I would have been humiliated, stuggling to maintain my temper and frightened and no doubt in tears.

I'm a woman and almost always travel in trousers.

Can't help wondering what item in particular was the problem.

Korhomme said...

I've an implant, so the metal detector almost always goes off. I'm more worried when it doesn't.
And when it goes off, I'm taken aside. I always ask for the female security guard to search me, but I always get men. I offer to strip, they have never let me.

Grania said...

As much as you write of this episode with your characteristic good humour, it scares the living daylights out of me. Security checks appear to have devolved into an entirely meaningless but harassing time-waster at airports.

Also, it scares me every time I hear ordinary people trying to defend the way their rights are being eroded little by little by actions that are little more than window-dressing in terms of how many "terror attacks" they have actually managed to stymie.

bryanM said...

Oh my goodness. Airport security is out&out needless paranoia.And obviously the more suspicious THEY are -the more suspicious you FEEL,so in turn become more uncomfortable,which in turn makes them more suspicious.Sigh,a never ending cycle.
I prefer not to travel anymore :)

Rodney said...

Could you not have swopped seats? At very least I hope you insisted on eating your manbag's business class meal.

David Mery said...

Who asked to search you? You seem to imply it was airline security staff, when it is usually airport security staff.

A few years ago Swissport staff at Stanstead asked me to take off my Liberty "I'm not a terrorist, please don't arrest me" badge before boarding a plane. I complied but tried to obtain the rules followed for this 'request' and got some further explanations. I wrote up this saga at I'm not a terrorist, please let me travel.

Mike Agg said...

Based on no knowledge of the handbag in question or any pertinent experience of airline security, I speculate it was some metal component or components of said handbag, rather than its contents, that caused concern.

Gate Man said...

First, I loose my bet with my boss that I can get the famous DAG to take his trousers off.

Second, my mate wins his bet about the manbag going club class.

And now, he's written about it so the whole world knows.

Rhianon Jameson said...

We live in a world where (a) security threats are real, (b) the threats are ever-changing, (c) (a) and (b) lead to rules that are ever-changing, (d) the desire to cover one's behind creates incentives for excessive cautiousness from a pure cost-benefit perspective, (e) training is slapdash at best, and (f), sadly, personnel sometimes get too used to being obeyed.

Because the hand, er, manbag was allowed to travel, I can only assume that the concern was that you could use the bag itself as a weapon. Must be some bag!

Le Canard Noir said...

Despite my fury at so much of what counts for security at airports, having irrational and arbitrary procedures may actually be the best form of defense. If a would be attacker cannot predict was measures will be used to stop an attack then it is quite difficult to plan.

This does not of course justify humiliating procedures without justification.

Nor does it justify lying to passengers. A few weeks ago, I was selected to be 'scanned'. I asked the nature of the scan and if it used ionising radiation. I was told 'no, it is perfectly safe'. This turned out to be completely untrue as it was one of those new fangled X-ray backscatter devices. I complained and asked if this was procedure to lie to passengers. As I actually wanted to board the plane, there was a limit to how far I wanted to push this.

redpola said...

This idiotic non-security is ridiculous. Your story reminded me of visiting the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield last year to watch the snooker. As my girlfriend and I showed our tickets to enter, she was told her handbag must be searched. This duly happened and she was told that if she did not throw away her body spray aerosol, she would be denied entry. I was wearing a coat with five times the storage space as her handbag and I was not searched. And what were they expecting her to do, detonate an aerosol during a snooker match?

Anonymous said...

Le Canard Noir said...

I was selected out for one of those X-ray machines too.

When I asked what would happen if I refused, I was given a look and a well, 'You'll just find out, won't you?'

That look said to me :Refuse and you will be given the option of a full strip search -or worse - or you will have to forego your trip (a once-in-a-life time, expensive, dream holiday).

How safe are those machines? Who has studied their effects? And what was the outcome?

And has my body image ever been deleted? How would I know?

Boats and trains, and buses. Much better idea, much more civilised these days.

richard.blogger said...

I am diabetic. My insulin must not suffer cold temperatures, if I am to eat on the flight (if trans-Atlantic, then I must) I have to take insulin. Hmmm. I have to inject insulin. Using a sharp needle. A needle that could damage someone else. Hmmm

Only once have I been challenge about taking insulin on a plane. I politely asked the security guy if he would ensure that there was an ambulance waiting for me at my destination (OK, so I exaggerated there, a little bit).

After 9/11 I was on one of the first flights to Newark NJ and once in the airport I had to get a domestic flight. Walking thru the metal detector the alarm went off. They then searched me with a manual metal detector and found nothing. Then a pat down. Finally, the security guy said it must be my belt buckle and told me to go thru. It was only later that I realised what had happened. Since I had taken insulin on the trans-Atlantic flight, I still had the insulin pen in my fleece pocket. The pen is aluminium, 15cm long, 1.5cm wide: almost like the barrel of a gun. Yet security hadn't found it with the pat down.

I don't think security can ever be perfect. I could take some nasty injectable stuff on the plane by demanding my rights and then I could threaten someone on the plane (solution: don't let diabetics fly). However, as I found at the time when the US was at its most security heightened, I could still get thru security with a gun like item.

Schroedinger99 said...

@Le Canard Noir

I think you are confusing two different issues here. "Arbitrariness and irrationality" (if we wish to put it like that) as to who and what and when to search make sense.

Deciding not to continue a search after a passenger has objected and letting that person board; and taking a suspicious bag into business class would seem to be a different order of arbitrariness and irrationality ....... unless of course they decided DAG could only detonate his explosive underpants using something in the lining of his manbag???


Alice said...

Good grief. That is spectacular. So there was actually no need for you to remove your trousers even in their eyes. And what on earth was wrong with your manbag? Clearly your bag itself was the problem rather than its contents - but evidently they never bothered to explain.

I am dying to know what on earth went through their heads!

Kimpatsu said...

The truth is that airport security staff are uneducated, minimum wage monkeys. If they actually had any savvy, they wouldn't be working the job they do; they'd be in better-paid employment elsewhere. Also, all of these rape searches and porno scanners are just theatre. All 9/11 taught us is to better secure aircraft cockpits (which has now been done) and that the passengers need to be ready to fight back occasionally. The rest is smoke and mirrors.
Jack, head over the the magistrate's blog and put the blogger there right on issues of personal privacy and airport security, would you?

Tony Lloyd said...

The best security story I ever heard was from a Leeds Utd supporting chef.

Said chef had the evening off for a Leeds game, but was needed in the afternoon for preparing the ingredients. He was worried about whether he would finish all his chopping and dicing in time and so was in quite a rush when he finished, packed up his knives and dashed off to Elland Road.

With his knives.

It was only when he was queuing up for entry and people were being searched that he remembered the knife case in his hand. He got to the "search point", threw his hands in the air, was patted around the midriff and told "in you go". And in he went, with a selection of knives specifically designed to cut through bone, flay skin and fillet flesh.

BTW is it true that security cannot ask you to take your trousers off? If so: doesn't demanding someone does amount to (attempted) sexual assault?

Jennie Kermode said...

The thing that always amazes me about scenarios like this one is the utter lack of imagination involved. Suppose you had wanted to blow yourself up - wouldn't doing so in a crowded airport have been just as effective as doing so on a plane? And how, exactly, would some poorly trained minimum wage kid have been expected to stop you?

Akheloios said...

Crap, I've been signing into too many short fiction writer sites recently.

I gave you a a 4/5 for description, but a 2/5 for plot. Pity, it's when reality meets journalist that stuff get done.

Why couldn't you find staff that didn't simply assault you for no good reason then let you on the plane? The tension dissipated when the plot based on your legal denial of their ability to search you and their denial of your right to get on a plane was allowed to continue without the annoyance of rectal probing.

Next time do better. I expect a bomb lodged 12 inches up your rectum, or a desperate need to reach your mother, who is one day away from dying of cancer.

Half arsed attempts at a narrative that describe a citizen stripped of their right to travel freely is simply bad storytelling.

Shame reality doesn't match the heights of narrative causality.

Ms Humphrey Cushion said...

Were you wearing a red coat? Maybe they thought you were the "handbag heroine"? Last year the heroine had Gordon Brown begging for mercy, last week she took on 6 armed robbers..

Geoff said...

I've long said the best way to improve airport security would be to raise the wage paid by as little as a pound and hour. No amount of technology can compensate when the staff are incompetent.

CanadianChick aka SkepCdnChick said...

I can honestly say that not a single thing they seedling in the name of security makes me feel safer. Flying into the US as I must for business just makes me annoyed by the stupidity, uselessness and invasiveness of the measures which generally useless and will NOT stop a concerted effort. All they do is irritate and intimidate passengers.

deevybee said...

Very strange indeed.
Why did they pick on you? Do you think your name is on some blacklist?
I don't want to put ideas into anyone's head, but what's so weird is that nobody searches anyone on the London Underground.

Adrian said...

Altough I agree with you in general, at your age you really shouldn't care what they call your luggage!

Peter in Dundee said...

I expect it will something as silly as the manbag having metal buckles. Maybe those buckles are quite large and with boxcutters still in the security mind they are worried you will detach it from the bag and use it to menace your way into the cockpit, or something.

I expect the near strip search was a consequence of the new total body scanners. Since these effectively render you naked this has emboldened security operatives to think they can undress passengers. Well done for disabusing them of this fact.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like they were attempting to punish you. After all if the bag was somehow a threat then why let it travel at all?

digitalraven said...

Funnily enough, this is precisely what Bruce Schneier means when ht talks about security theatre. It's slightly depressing to see just how people fall into the trap of seeing a massively invasive search as having some imagined positive outcome.

The linked article is from 2008, but remains relevant, and Bruce blogs about security theatre to this day. A key excerpt:

"Since 9/11, two -- or maybe three -- things have potentially improved airline security: reinforcing the cockpit doors, passengers realizing they have to fight back and -- possibly -- sky marshals. Everything else -- all the security measures that affect privacy -- is just security theater and a waste of effort."

thornae said...

I am surprised that it's taken this long for someone to mention Schneier's contributions to this subject.

Here's a longer piece, with Schneier discussing the new scanners.

I would also recommend reading his essay here, where he reiterates the point that increased apolitical police funding will be more effective than reactionary security measures.
(As far as I am aware, all known transport related terrorism plots since September 11 have either been thwarted by police work, or failed to be detected by the increased security.)

Security theatre is effective only at making people say "It makes you feel safer."
We allow ourselves to be humiliated and interfered with because most of us aren't willing to go through the trouble that protesting will inevitably bring.
Well done for standing up for your right not to take your trousers off. However, as someone else has said, those of us who aren't lawyers are going to continue suffering humiliation at the hands of those who claim, rightly or not, that they are authorised to demand it.

Adam said...

How utterly surreal.

Did you ever find out what was wrong with your manbag?

Martin Milan said...

Revenge for your role in #TwitterJokeTrial perhaps?

I'd abandon any hope of travelling from Robin Hood Airport if I were you - they probably have a large root vegetable with your name on stored out back for the occasion!

Peil said...

I was travelling from Glasgow to Gatwick on Friday morning with my 7 year old daughter. Go through the usual rigmarole, belt and coats in the tub, through the xray.
Through the detector gate, then my daughter - bleep.

My daughter looks visibly worried as the security guard asks her to stand with her hands up and she starts to pat her down. The next few minutes went pretty surreal.

"What do you think you are doing?"
"I need to search your daughter as the gate has gone off"
Why not use the wand, I do not want you manhandling my daughter"
"Sir, I need you to calm down."
"I haven't even raised my voice, I'm just objecting to you touch my daughter all over in plain view of the rest of the airport."
"Sir the wand won't be any good, the gate randomly picks people for a further pat down"
"So, you get a lot of 7 year old terrorists in here do you?"

Another 15 minutes wasted as I have a chat with a large pair of police who threaten to bang me up, and we finally got on our way.

On the way back up at Gatwick I saw a child in a pram go mad as it's bottle had to be xrayed, and another child of no more than a year, be searched in his fathers arms in the name of 'security'

Do I feel more secure, do I hell, and my daughter is still asking why did they pick on her.

Simon Too said...

Quite obviously your quibbling about your trousers was a pathetic attempt to distract those devoted to our safety from checking your manbag. We all know your type, and clearly airport security had you banged to rights. Thanks to their prompt action you were unable to destroy their aeroplane with your manbag, and you cannot deny it.

Mind you, what you are going to do to western civilisation with it now you have landed, goodness only knows.

CharlieMcMenamin said...

You've made a key contribution to what is known in our house as 'The War Against Hand Cream'. Your country is proud and grateful.

Dominic Graham de Montrose said...

Having done a fair amount of air travel recently, I've been wanting to raise this issue for a while now.

I think that as passengers we need to have much more clarity about what is - and is not - within the remit of airport security to make us do. And under what conditions.

For example, the other day I was told I had to remove my scarf before passing through the metal detector (yes, as if a woollen scarf would prevent the metal detector from doing its job). I commented on it at the time, but ultimately complied because I simply wanted to get to the other side as quick as possible.

It is dangerous when power is exercised without challenge or clear accountability. So I think it is essential that we have clarity about both expectations/limitations and accountability - under what authority do they exercise this power, and to whom can we appeal if we consider it to have been inappropriately exercised?

LHR-BOS said...

Is it true that they can't ask you to remove your trousers? They can (and do) force people into the naked x-ray scanners and if they thought you were acting funny they'd have no qualms in taking you to the back room for a full cavity search, so taking off trousers is pretty tame.

I was selected for the x-ray at LHR in November and asked what the alternative option was as in the USA we can have a manual pat down instead. I was told there was no alternative and that if I wanted to fly I had to submit to the x-ray. I'm guessing this was a lie - at the very least there must be a second stage if they find something in the naked picture but I was cutting it close for my flight and didn't want to push it too much.

And there's the problem. You give a uniform and a badge to someone earning minimum wage and they get their kicks in other ways. Either by harassing people or looking at them naked. They're on a power trip. They know you don't repect them (if they appear to not know their job) and they don't respect you (have you heard "sir" said in more condescending manner?). Stalemate. But who in a position of authority is ever going to dare roll back any security theater? It would be political suicide if there was ever another attack. There's no rationality or logic where terrorist "threats" are concerned.

oldebabe said...

There is always choice. If I want to travel within CONUS, I choose to drive, take the bus, or take the train rather than submit to any more of the so-called security precautions, some verging on the ridiculous.

As a woman of always 81 years, I certainly will not allow the potentially damaging x-ray, and/or submit to the humilitation of the feeling-up, or disrobiing, the way some people will (I can't understand how they can, or make such weak resistence.) The previous security measures were bad enough, but this...

Given that these are now the options if I want to get on a flight, I find that I really don't NEED to fly. If only those who must fly on business do so, perhaps it will become obvious that people in general will not stand for this physical (and in the case of children, possibly mental)abuse. The airlines then, surely, will notice that the people traffic has decreased, and with it, their `revenue stream', and find a way to effect changes.

Moriquendi said...

Meh. I'd have just taken the trousers off. I sometimes do it by mistake instead of applauding at concerts anyway.

Mike said...

This reminds me of an incident last march flying with BA from Terminal 5 when the BAA security staff were not happy with the logo on my my polo shirt which relates to Contaminated Cabin Air and has the website on it. I was provided with an even more thorough search than normal while the police were called. They were very bemused by the situation by went through the procedure of writing out a note (not a caution) to say I had a pleasant chat with them and they found nothing wrong. However the BA Terminal 5 Manager and assistant were called to see if I should be allowed to fly on their flight. Eventually he said as fare paying Business Class passenger I would be allowed to fly providing I changed my shirt.
I complied as I needed to fly. However I feel that my freedom of expression has been impinged by both BAA and BA. The shirt logo is for information. It is not derogatory, political,shocking,threatening or offensive in anyway yet I was humiliated by both organisations in public! I have yet to hear from British Airways on the matter.

Mike said...

This reminds me of an incident last march flying with BA from Terminal 5 when the BAA security staff were not happy with the logo on my my polo shirt which relates to Contaminated Cabin Air and has the website on it. I was provided with an even more thorough search than normal while the police were called. They were very bemused by the situation by went through the procedure of writing out a note (not a caution) to say I had a pleasant chat with them and they found nothing wrong. However the BA Terminal 5 Manager and assistant were called to see if I should be allowed to fly on their flight. Eventually he said as fare paying Business Class passenger I would be allowed to fly providing I changed my shirt.
I complied as I needed to fly. However I feel that my freedom of expression has been impinged by both BAA and BA. The shirt logo is for information. It is not derogatory, political,shocking,threatening or offensive in anyway yet I was humiliated by both organisations in public! I have yet to hear from British Airways on the matter.

Uncle Pip said...

Just flew back to Uk from Tenerife. Was asked to take off shoes and belt. I just pretended to be deaf and ignored them. Despite my belt having large metal buckle detector did not sound. So I deduce it does not work they only randomly sound regardless of whether you are carrying metal or not.

I have never hear of any success at stopping any terrorists by all this nonsense. I saw a 4'6" octogenarian nun having her nail scissors confiscated at Rome airport though!

kassto said...

If that's the worst thing that happens in your life, you're doing fine. Frankly, I find the flying a hell of a lot more scary than the security.

Cardinal Fang said...

I hope you asked for a copy of the full search record. The police are required to make a written record of any searches they make. Presumably the airport security should be working to similar standards.

Flying Doc said...

I used to fly a lot on business, fortunately prior to the security madness engendered by the Twin Towers debacle. I always carried with me a small Swiss Army knife for personal grooming, envelope opening etc. Since this was a gift from my wife I attach a certain amount of sentimental value to it.

On a couple of occasions since the War on Terr has been instigated I have found myself queuing up at the security gate with the thing about my person. I have so far been able to smuggle it through with simple ruses which I have no intention of explaining on this forum, or any other for that matter. I have also been subjected to the type of peevish insulting behaviour which is described here.

So far as I can see, the War on Terr (Airport Security Divn.) is a convenient stalking horse for the frustrated angry and underachieving members of society to wreak their pitiful revenge on those of us who have managed to make something of our lives. It has little to do with the reduction of air transport hazards.

Michael Kingsford Gray said...

These security checks are not really for security purposes.
They are for:
1) Being seen to do something, no matter how actually useless.
2) To give the new security management in the airlines and airport continued validity in their otherwise one-off job.
3) To scare the crap out of Josephine Public so that she will vote for the "Law & Order" Party at the nest elections.

These bogus interventions serve no other purpose.

Dan said...

Well, with the exception of Le Canard Noir's post I don't remember a JoK blogpost with such a lack of perspective, and comments in the same vein.

First: I presume no-one is actually suggesting zero boarding checks? And yes, we all know that we aren't the ones with the bad intentions. But there are people out there with those intentions. When they go to board a flight with their underpants/shoes/stanley knives, they are going to be under a lot more stress if they don't know exactly what the checks will be. And thus Easier To Spot. Or Less Likely to Try It.

(I flew through Boston in 2000. Commented at the time how lax the security was compared to LHR..)

Second: you are not being humiliated, that entirely depends on your attitude. How much fun do you think it really is having a job in airport security? How many assholes do they have to meet every day? Or guys with an attitude like "I'm not a terrorist, so this is pointless". Drop your trousers with pride and think of the spirit of the blitz!

Otherwise keep up the good work :)

Adam G said...

It's incredible how common these kinds of stories are becoming, but it is also saddening how often there is no real resolution to them because the narrator 'really needed to catch the plane.' If we continue to comply because we rely on aeroplanes for transport, the security measures will never be changed :-(

kassto said...

Very well said, Dan.

guthrie said...

Dan - when was the last time they actually caught any bombers or such at the airport security check in stage?
(as opposed to a number of them who actually got onto the aircraft and did what they wanted to do)

Scargutt said...

I think i'd have just got butt naked to try and embarrass them.

If i'd been on the last flight of the day, i'd have no doubt found time for a beer or two which would have helped!

David C said...

The whole thing is theatre and posturing, to be seen to be doing something. Security is always playing catch-up, the next terrorist atrocity or near atrocity is already (sadly) being planned and will come from yet another unexpected quarter.

Be not fooled, the terrorists are already winning in their battle against freedom, air travel is not the freedom it once was. Joe and Jo public being humiliated by minimum wage monkeys is just an indicator of the erosion of a freedom.

When the terrorists start to target other areas of society, more, and officials and governments start stepping up the intrusions on everyday life, the terrorist war on freedom is on its way to being won. Who would think that a few dozen like minded folk could bring down the thing held most dear in the west...FREEDOM...)or rather the illusion of it).

Well the big picture is that, terrorists are already affecting the way we live our lives and their work is being undertaken by our governments and security services.

What is the answer? Well freedoms victory would be freedom to all, including terrorists. Perhaps a few deaths every now and then is the price of freedom? Fact is NO ONE has found any way of defeating the threat as is, so we either go on restricting freedoms in the name of stopping terrorists...or we allow freedom for there a middle way? I can't see it.

Every erosion and intrusion on our freedom, is a victory for terrorism. Quite a thought that!!

Carl said...

I've never really got the man bag thing. What's wrong with pockets, a briefcase or a backpack? Besides the point though, I guess they thought you had a weapon of mass destruction in that there man bag. Or that it was too stylish to suffer economy.

Mike Cunningham said...

Many years ago, I travelled north to London from Johannesburg.

Passed through what was laughingly called ‘Security’ and into the departures lounge. Sitting beside me was a couple who were desperately trying to recall where they had stored or placed the family revolver before leaving for the airport.

They finally got a phone message through to their neighbour, who held their spare keys, and asked him to check in the bedroom; and if located to keep the gun safe until they returned from holiday.

Five minutes later, the phone rings, and the neighbour is saying that the revolver is not in the house!

Stunned, the man and his wife return to their seats beside me, and, after further worrying, decide to eat the sandwiches which they have packed for the wait in the lounge.

It was then that they found, lying right on top of the sandwich box, the Ruger Blackhawk .357 magnum revolver, fully loaded, with holster lying beside it.

Believe it or not, they were forced to ask the BA pilot if he would secure it for transport to Heathrow, have it stored by HM customs, and return with it once they were themselves returning.

There wasn’t much comment from the Afrikaans Security mob at Jan Smuts Airport on how they had missed a gun which measured some ten inches from muzzle to handle, but there again, we always said they were bloody useless!

Law Firm Marketing said...

Hilarious and nice to know that it is slightly nonsense and you can get away with saying no to humiliating and vastly pointless tasks.

Mad King Soup said...

I've always thought that if you don't thoroughly search every single passenger then the system is not secure. Anything else is just posturing, as has been mentioned above.

Similarly, all these extra levels of security added every time some threat is averted... Surely the very fact that the threat has been averted means that the existing level of security worked perfectly well, in which case, why add to it?

Unless, of course, it's all simply for show...