Reply To: Duty Free Lunacy at LGW

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Going through LGW today, I decided to buy a bottle for Xmas.

At the till, I was somewhat taken aback when the cashier informed me (not asked) to produce my passport. As in “I need to see your passport.”

I asked why and she isaid that she had to match the name on the passport with the boarding pass; I said that was not a satisfactory answer and would she summon a supervisor if she was unable to explain why she needed sight of a document that she had no power to insist should be produced.

To cut a long story short, I was informed that the police ran a ‘sting’ on under age drinking in the duty free shops and they were caught out, so the establishment now has a policy that everyone (bear in mind I am over 50) must produce their passport, to prove their age.

I informed them, quite politely, that I would prefer to buy a bottle from an establishment who were not managed by people who have become detached from reality and left the shop. (I made the purchase on arrival at my home airport.)

However, three questions arise in my mind

1) If the security situation is a grave as some say (Martyn Sinclair, come on down), is running stings in airports the best use of police resources?

2) How comfortable are you in handing over a sensitive document to a cashier, who might be able to easily capture some details under the counter very quckly and unobtrusively? (edited to add RFID chip vulnerability as being my concern.)

3) For the UK residents, how do you feel about living in a country where it is considered appropriate for a shop to decide to demand a passport (specifically) to complete such a transaction?

PS: When I lived in the UK, Trading Standards enforced under age alcohol sales, not the police – when did this change?

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