Tuesday, 8 April 2014

CAVEAT PEREGRINATOR: A warning for anyone who ever has to go through Airport Security

Those of you who know me at all well will know that the S in my name doesn’t stand for “serious.”  However, I can be serious when the need arises, and this, dear friends, is one such occasion.  The airports won’t tell you about this, so your warning will have to be the story of our experience at Manchester Airport’s Terminal 1 last Thursday morning. 

Picture the scene.  It’s 5.50 am, and we’ve just joined the long queue to go through Security. Progress is horrendously slow, because the scanners bleep for just about everyone who walks through them, meaning that virtually every single passenger has to undergo a detailed search.  I’m one of the very few who doesn’t, but Better Half isn’t so fortunate.  By the time we’re both through and have reclaimed our hand baggage, it’s almost half past six.  We’ve still got plenty of time (our flight is due to start boarding just after 7 for a 7.30 departure) but we decide to go through to the departure gate area now, so we won’t have to rush at the last minute.  We fight our way through the obstacle course known as the airport shops (which are carefully designed so that you can’t easily walk straight through them), find a couple of seats where we can keep an eye on the indicator board, and settle down to wait.

Five minutes before the flight is due to start boarding, Better Half opens his bag to sort out what he needs for the journey.  Out of the corner of my eye I can see him hunting frantically through the contents, then eventually he exclaims, “My camera’s gone!”

We rush back through the shopping area (even more difficult to negotiate when doing so against the tide and against the clock) and eventually arrive back at Security.  The missing camera, together with a drawstring pouch containing a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, is quickly located behind the manager’s desk.  When we ask what has happened, we are given a perfunctory explanation: “Oh, they will have gone through on a separate tray.”

Presumably, in the fifteen or twenty minutes when Better Half was going through Security and his bag was, through no fault of his own, out of his sight, the camera and headphones were removed by Security staff and re-scanned, but were not then reunited with the bag.

Better Half was lucky – he got his camera and headphones back.  But the incident has left us wondering: how many other people are not so fortunate?  Passengers are given absolutely no warning that items might be removed from their bags without their knowledge, and hence may well not discover that things are missing until it’s too late to reclaim them.

So, dear friends – here is my warning: If, when going through Airport Security, your hand baggage is out of your sight for any length of time, CHECK THE CONTENTS THOROUGHLY AS SOON AS YOU GET IT BACK





6 comments:

  1. Good grief, Sue. That's awful. It does make you wonder why they didn't find him when they'd done with it. They must have some sort of log of who's gone through and what belongs to them.

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    1. I doubt it, Sally. As I said, the queues were horrendous, and there wasn't nearly enough staff to deal with the number of searches they had to make. I think the system assumes that the passengers and the bags will go through at more or less the same rate, so any bag which needs to be searched more thoroughly would be done so with the owner present. It clearly takes no account of the possibility that owner and bag might get separated during the process. When Better Half finally got through, he even had to ask where his bag was!

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  2. I've been reading about Manchester Airport elsewhere in the papers - the staff are very likely to open suitcases without passengers knowing and many items have disappeared. Funnily enough, they weren't scissor shaped either! Makes you wonder about the 'honesty' of it all! Very glad your possessions were recovered.

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    1. That's interesting, Debbie. Can you remember where you read about it?

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  3. DH went through a foreign airport stupidly waring a rolex. They made him tske it off. It disappeared. He caused a rukkus was told he didn't have one, he was lying, no one had seen it. Including the guy who had made him remove it. Forunately the guy with him was a national of that country went ballistic and the watch mysteriously appeared!
    (He's never worn that watch on a business trip like that again)

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