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Anonymous28 Mar 2013
Had a bizzare experience at T5 Heathrow yesterday coming through security.
My wife and I were travelling together and she had packed some of her clothes in my bag including some of her underwear, she had delayed her entry through security as she was on the phone so I went through on my own. The bag was scanned and I was stopped at the desk and asked to open the bag by a grinning security goon, my wife’s underwear (a bra) was held up and I was asked,
“Is this yours Sir?” while two other members of staff stood giggling in the background. I replied it was not and I was travelling with my wife. “O, the wife” he said in a sarcastic manner, “and where is she ?”. I pointed her out and out and perhaps fortunately for me she smiled and waved. The case was slammed shut and I was asked to “move along”.
It seems incredible to me that this level of schoolboy behaviour is prevalent at a major airport like Heathrow but when my wife and I were then sitting together in the restaurant talking about it she said it is common for her have her bags opened if they have nice lingerie in them, something she had heard other women mention as well.
I was annoyed and requested to speak with a supervisor but was told they were all “on a break”. I have emailed them today seeking an explanation.
Have other travellers experienced anything like this ?28 Mar 2013
In the past, I witnessed some appalling behaviour from some members of the Goon Show.
Even at Security South, which is normally better.
Some are, however, efficient and professional – all my T5 passages this year have resulted in pushing the green button so they can get it right if they want to.
Asever, get as many specifics as you can (times, channel number and name of employee) assuming they haven’t covered/removed their badge.
I’d also suggest copying in BA directly ([edited to redact individual’s name] is your man – don’t mess around with customer experience bods) if you used the Fast Track channel, as this is a service for which BA pays a surcharge.28 Mar 2013
Stringfellow – 28/03/2013 09:48 GMT
Have other travellers experienced anything like this ?
Wow, that is truly outrageous, I’d have been livid!
I complained to Heathrow December 3rd after a security incident on the way back from an awards dinner. I got a reply on the 31st of January which I am sure you’d not be surprised to hear, did nothing to address the complaint I made. I was given an apology and the email went on to tell me that they needed to “try harder”, but frankly by then I had decreed that flying via LHR was no longer an option for me unless there was no other option. I’ve now booked 3 returns to London all of which are on East Coast trains. I’ve loads more to come at the end of the year too, all of which will be on same.
I’ve just completed a last-minute flight to/from KUL via T3, T4 & T5 and in fairness to them, my return via T5 wasn’t as hideous as I’ve previously found it. Still nowhere near the level of other airports of course, but at least it was relatively quick and I was there at peak time.
But back to your case case – I’d be expecting more than an apology on that one, I’d be insistent that the security officer was/is reprimanded.
If I had never travelled via LHR, I’d actually think you were making this up! But I have no doubts whatsoever that your experience is 100% accurate.
AOTG.28 Mar 2013
If a bag is selected for further examination you can request that it be opened in a private room. Is this a bad thing to do? (i.e. will they deliberately take their time so you nearly miss your flight? or are they so short staffed they want to clear you asap?28 Mar 2013
Stringfellow…..every European airport is obliged to provide “private” search facilities. You are also entitled to request same sex searchers.
Whenever my bag s selected to be searched I ask for a private search by two males. They provide it immediately as they are supposed to do. It annoys them to have to do private searches and they do not advertise that the facility is available because it means they lose a couple of staff off the main search for a few minutes. They have a small office close to the search just for this purpose.
I object totally to having my personal belongings thrown over the counter on display for the world to see. Until the UK insists on privacy screens, as in some other European and Worldwide airports, I shall ask for a private search. I don’t care if it is inconvenient to the airport managements.28 Mar 2013
I would have never dreamed of asking for a private room in the past, my bags get additional screening every so often, usually it is done professionally (at T5 and other other airports) and I am on my way quickly however this has changed my view. My minor embarrassment however is nothing compared to the comments of my wife that it is routine to be stopped as a woman if you have attractive underwear in your luggage.28 Mar 2013
Me and my beloved headed off to Madrid for a romantic long weekend last year……As I was working in London and the flight to MAD was from EDI we decided to meet in the EDI departure lounge…..
Leaving my M-F attire in my Brentford hotel Iasked my gorgeous lass to bring my small holdall to the airport……..forgetting to tell her about my toiletries bag….which triggered the search at EDI security….
No diplomacy or tact either I’m afraid as she tried to explain boxers, aftershave et al……..
Not so much a passionate kiss when we met, more of a ear wagging !! 🙂28 Mar 2013
I suffered exactly the same experience as Stringfellow on arrival at Madrid from Buenos Aires a couple of years ago. It was slightly worse as my partner was on a staff standby ticket and was on a flight arriving later the same day as she had not been able to get on my flight.
I not only told the person concerned exactly what I thought of him, in Spanish, including calling him childish and unprofessional, and my Spanish becomes particularly fluent when I am annoyed, I also demanded the supervisor then and there and refused to leave the area until he came (I had time to kill anyway). I then filled in the official ‘hoja de reclamaciones’ and demanded that the person concerned be reprimanded.
I wrote a formal complaint, naming this person, to the relevant section of the Agencia Tributaria, the body in Spain which controls the Aduana (Customs) with copies to AENA Aeropuertos, who were the the operators of the airport, and to Aerolineas Argentinas, my inbound carrier.
This type of behaviour is unacceptable and inexcusable and should be reported to the authorities.28 Mar 2013
There’s a follow up to this, my wife emailed a few friends this morning to ask if they had experienced anything similar and the response has been overwhelming !
Without exception every single woman said she could almost guarantee that packing ‘hot’ lingerie would result in her bag being opened by security. Heathrow, Paris and Madrid were all mentioned as a particular problem.28 Mar 2013
Stringfellow good luck with pursuing this, it’s dreadful behaviour.
Of course, I don’t think anyone should be asked to explain the presence of anything legal in their bags and should something like this happen again, I would be very tempted to in a very loud voice affirm that the clothing was mine and instruct the goon to be very careful how he handled it.
That would almost certainly wipe the smiles off their faces with great speed and no doubt most others around would have a good laugh at someone making a fool of the goon.28 Mar 2013
Stringfellow………” Hot Lingerie” ????
For her 18th I treated an ex to a weeks holiday in the Algarve……..why she wanted to pack her ” hot lingerie” I will never know…..
Still not sure who was most embarressed at GLA security…
ME…..shocked face redder than a naughty school boy caught behind the bicycle shed…
HER…..” But I’m just an innocent naive girl next door, and WHAT is that thing”
SECURITY BOY….”Ohhhhhh, you look so innocent you saucy sexy little lass….as he stared at the ceiling!!
Ann Summers gas a lot to answer for…..and Cosmopolitan for that manner !!!28 Mar 2013
I’m slightly perplexed by all this as I thought that the hand luggage went through an X-ray machine and that would produce an X-ray image of the contents , and I understand that clothing produces an image that would show as orange as opposed to a photographic image that only depicts ” hot” lingerie ,28 Mar 2013