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Scanners - useful mainly for causing delays

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viking01 - 04/01/2010 12:14 BST

Can you imagine what Heathrow is going to be like while they try and find space for dozens of airport body scanners?

You can barely swing a cat in the place without hitting a stack of duty free chocolates or whisky, and now we're all going to be squeezed through scanners which wouldn't have caught this guy anyway.

Still, at least it's sending out the right message to terorists, ie:

1. we're playing catch up

2. we don't know what we're doing

3. we're mainly interested in showing we are doing something without caring too much what that thing is (gesture politics)

4. we're prepared to curtail the civil liberties of everyone even though it is an identifiable subset of everyone we should be watching out for (it's not racism, it's profiling).

5. there will be layer on layer of inconsistent security to inconvenience us, while those who are obviously a threat, whose own parents think they are a threat, who are already on lists of those to watch and who nevertheless are allowed to fly on a one-way ticket bought with cash to the States from Yemen somehow avoid it all.

AMcWhirter - 04/01/2010 12:29 BST

Processing time is also an issue with the new machines. According to reports in the national press, it will take 20 seconds to screen each passenger so imagine how long (even assuming there are multiple machines in operation) it would take to process travellers on a fully booked B747 or A380 ?

One effect of the new security rules will be to enhance the popularity of taking flights from smaller airports (like London City) or booking business class-only transatlantic flights (like London City to New York) as it will be easier to process passengers in a more timely manner.

- 04/01/2010 12:39 BST

So 20 seconds per passenger, on a full A380 (say roughly 450 passengers), equals 9000 seconds or 2.5 hours. And that's without the rest of the security / passport controls. Good luck BAA...

AMcWhirter - 04/01/2010 13:01 BST

I would imagine an airport would need to have several machines covering each gate or those gates covering transatlantic flights.

AF is the only carrier operating an A380 across the Atlantic to the US. Its A380 accommodates 538 passengers and until now has been fully booked (because of the plane's novelty value) so it along with CDG and JFK have a challenge on their hands.

viking01 - 04/01/2010 14:01 BST

Yes, so we can add:

6. time processing everyone

7. they probably wouldn't catch someone trying the same thing again.

8. they almost certainly wouldn't catch someone trying something new.

and talking of (7.), can we agree that the term "underpant bomb" is unsatisfactory?

Surely the plural is correct?

travelworld - 04/01/2010 14:03 BST

Let's hope that the result is that the scanners are focussed on those who fit the profile and not the entire A380. As Viking01 says, the cash ticket purchaser of a one way ticket to the USA from Nigeria having recently visited Yemen and without luggage is possibly more likely to have murderous intent than a family of five en route to Disneyland. And, once someone had been denied boarding on the grounds that they were acting suspiciously, it would be a good idea not to let him get on the same flight the following day without question- which is what happened with the shoebomber in Paris.

MarcusUK - 04/01/2010 18:27 BST

I very much doubt the 20 seconds!!!

The existing security you would be lucky for one passenger through every 1-3minutes with how they operate at LHR! I was asked to go through the body scanners twice when they were being trialed, & it was at least 5 minutes.

I still think profiling of passengers & an equivilant security certification (based on patterns of travel, FF status as being known to airports or Airlines, Immigration history, ticket sourcing -cash vs cards, single vs return tickets etc) is the way to go. If you make the trip regularly on a route with an Airline, as many BT readers do, you should be given a reliable higher known security status.

It is not viable to put everyone through body scanners for every flight out of the UK, or other countries. Clearly there will be less resourced countries who will not have them, & still many Airlines will fly passengers into the EU Airports, where this level of security cannot be matched.

This is precisely what happened in the recent incident.

UK Government: Could LHR also perhaps check passports as you travel out of LHR? I have not had mine checked for 2 yrs out of T4, even travelling every 2 weeks!!! Really NO point having immigration systems, if you don't know who has's simply common sense??? Schipol have passport checks at every gate prior to boarding, separate from security, as well as entry to the airport & the Airline itself.

VintageKrug - 05/01/2010 01:12 BST

All passports were checked exT3 (after security) for my most recent international flight from there in late December.

FlyingChinaman - 05/01/2010 09:16 BST

I have a feeling the UK Immigration Department deploys a ramdom passport inspection for the departing passengers as I have my passport checked in different terminals but most often no such inspections required. The authority prefers to be unpredictable!

Talking about security inconsistance, I had to remove my shoes/belt in T5 but not in T3. The rules are not necessary the same in all terminals.

MarcusUK - 05/01/2010 09:22 BST

Yes, i think it does vary, but there are not even immigration desks at T4 that are ever manned.

Before we look at technology, & more sophisticated techniques, we should correct the stupid & the obvious in our own territory, & have passports checked on leaving the country -Always!

FlyingChinaman - 05/01/2010 10:11 BST

It used be Immigration inspection on leaving the UK until several years ago and the UK government decided to emulate the USA Immigration practice of only checking entry into the country!

But I don't think ramdom checking of travel documents poses a serious security issue here.

Governments should concentrate on looking at more effecient ways of intercepting would-be terrorists trying to smuggle WMD at airports without imposing unduly stress to the travellers.

Bullfrog - 05/01/2010 16:26 BST

It appears that 'body scanners' may breach the UK's Protection of Children Act 1978.

Surely the protection of all passengers & the safety of aircraft is the issue here.

If body scanners provide the level of security that is required to view & detect any concealed weapons, explosives or substances that can cause damage or destruction, then the Children's Act needs to be amended. Steps must be taken to ensure that all data recorded is safe and not open to abuse.

Terrorist groups must be laughing when they read this kind of 'political correctness'.

The Israelis have developed a 'step up' device which allows shoes to be checked without the need to remove them, saving considerable time at security.

Kaicat75 - 05/01/2010 17:28 BST

I went through one of these scanners in the states last year when they were testing them. While I have no issue with then (as if i choose to fly i have to comply with the security requirements). But from my experience it does take nearly 5 mins from start to finish for each passenger so i can see nothing but delays.

MarcusUK - 05/01/2010 18:08 BST

No wonder the Home Office had the Innovative policy of texting people when their Visa expired here! Hence the 1 million+ people with illeagal status in the UK?

If we do not check people leaving if they have, when, complying with Immigration policy, then we may as well abandon the Visa regulations altogether. I cannot think of one of the 50 countries i have travelled through, where they don't exit you on the immigration system, & therefore have a record of yr compliance & travel patterns (for profiling for eg).

Whilst it is not related to scanner use, it is another security measure which is poorly applied in the UK. As others have noted, knee jerk reactions, when we don't apply the regulations we have already make the whole process full of faults.

T4 simply don't have manned immigration. If they did, we would know more of who is in the country, & it would add to the "supposed" security in the UK. This would ensure that we can profile accurately, & benefit those like BT readers, who demonstrate a secure pattern of travel & safety. Full body scanners for every route & every passenger is simply not viable. It also makes no difference if every airport in the world does not implement them, as demonstrated, aggressors can still fly one way in, from areas of poor resource, or security.

LPPSKrisflyer - 05/01/2010 18:30 BST

The one sure thing about BAA introducing scanners at LHR will be that it will be absolute chaos and the chaos will be worse than you can possibly imagine. No matter how many they install, at least 70% will be out of use at any given time and anyone who gets cross with the incompetance will be arrested as a potential terrorist.

SimonRowberry - 05/01/2010 21:11 BST


No passport check at LHR T3 post-security on Tuesday 29 December at 14.00, which was when I was last there. The passports posts were unmanned. Obvious inconsistencies on behalf of the Border Agency.


FlyingChinaman - 05/01/2010 23:42 BST

I totally agree with you that the introduction of body scanners at Heathrow terminals will certain create more delays, frustrations and missed flights when the present routine security inspection system is already over-strained at peak hours. There is a very unpleasant feel to it and certainly NOT a nice travel experience!

I often get a distinct impression that the staffing ratio level does not correspond to the number of passengers served, unlike Hong Kong or Singapore or other Asian airports where security inspection is not a source of stress.

I have had the use of the "experimental" body scanners several times last year in San Francisco airport and the process took well over 5 minutes. each time. I volunteered for the "trial" simply for the amusement value and to get a first-hand knowledge since I had ample departure time. I found the whole operation such a farce!

Just imigine what effect it will have on the passengers with on tight schedule!

The advanced shoe scanning technique should be introduced to London airports so as to eliminate the removal of shoes and it will certainly speed up the inspection process. Any extra help we get is good.

All we are seeking here as frequent travellers is an effective anti-terrorist detection system at airports with the minimal hassles to the public.

Concorde - 06/01/2010 10:56 BST

What is this? Since when did I become a target? 40 year old white european with no religious background. They shall be looking for persons not items. Plus, and this is the best of it all. The naketscanners do not even detect the stuff the dude had on him. Please give me feedback that I am not the only sane guy out there. BA Gold Member for years - 500.000 miles anually

robsmith100 - 03/02/2011 13:11 BST

Mice are being trained to detect would-be bombers and drug couriers at airports.

A bit early for April fools?

robsmith100 - 03/02/2011 13:11 BST

Mice are being trained to detect would-be bombers and drug couriers at airports.

A bit early for April fools?

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