1 November 2006


There we were at tiny Treviso Airport north of Venice. The girl at the check-in desk processed our luggage but never asked if our hefty suitcase might have been packed by someone else or if someone might have interfered with it. We had two hours to spare. Shirley said she'd go through security and read her book on the other side while I walked off from the terminal for a Napoli pizza and a beer at a little roadside pizza restaurant I'd spotted close to the airport. By the way, after checking in at many airports you are simply not allowed to leave the terminal building.
When I returned to make my own way through security, I could have kicked myself. The sign said that in hand luggage there should be no knives, no weapons, no umbrellas and no water! What a silly sod I can be! There were two bottles of water in my little rucksack and a retractable umbrella. The security guy confiscated one bottle of water - missed the other and forgot about the umbrella. Great stuff! That really gives you confidence in international airport security!


Then there was Shannon Airport in western Ireland last Easter. All passengers passing through security had to remove their shoes. Nowhere else - just Shannon. At Jersey Airport I said to them - "Shall I remove my watch and belt?" No - it didn't matter they said. Loose change? "No! That's okay."
We went to Turkey when there was a big international terrorist alert. Passengers from the UK could take next to nothing on board their planes. There were body searches and big hold-ups but returning via Dalaman, there was none of that. It was as if there had never been a red alert as we edged passed the yawning security men who brazenly ignored their X-ray screens.
Back from Schonefeld, Berlin in early September, businessmen had little suitcases as hand luggage, tugging them along as if to say - Terrorism? What terrorism?
I could go on listing many other examples of inconsistent airport security. It seems utterly crazy. The same rules should apply throughout the world when travelling internationally. You should be asked the same questions at every airport from Tokyo to Toronto and Beijing to Beirut. It shouldn't matter. The procedures should always be the same. Islamic terrorists could easily seek out lax airports outside the UK or the USA and exploit these inconsistencies with, of course, disastrous and murderous results.
Got any other examples of inconsistent airport security?


  1. We came back from Barcelona six days after the August arrests. We were expecting no hand luggage, no drinks etc. We were allowed to take on whatever we liked. Thinking about it though on the way out and 'pre-scare' the security at Luton was way tighter than I had ever seen before.

  2. 1)Traveling from Canada to the USA after Bede's father had just died, the first check-out person said that we wouldn't be able to get on board without the itinerary we printed off at home. Never mind that we had tickets, passports... no printed-out itinerary, no entrance. (Our frustration was compounded when we found that the airlines had screwed up our altered return trip.) The second check-out person was very sympathetic to us, and was incredulous that we needed a print-out of itinerary. She printed it out for us. Security never asked to see it.

    2)One month after 9/11, Bede and I traveled to Rome. As we scrambled to find our connecting flight to Florence, we followed signs and suddenly found ourselves outside of the airport. We went back in, and the guards just waved us through. They didn't even look at our passports.

  3. YP, if you're going to namedrop glamourous places you've been too you need to be less obvious about it and spread them out between more posts, so in one post I'd mention Luton airport, in the next maybe a tantalising description of of the tram thingy at stanstead, then to really impress I'd talk about watching the easyjet pilot pump up the tyres with a bicycle pump whilst I sipped newcastle brown ale with an umbrella and a cherry in the bus shelter at Ponteland international. I would be happy to help with any other style and sophistication tips for the jet set, you just need to ask but must dash, need to ring my cleaner in beverly hills and tell her I'll be over this weekend..

  4. After all that hijab business, it suddenly occured to me: How does that work at passport control? With lengthy queues of stockinged passengers, they couldn't really have separate facilities for veiled women could they? Certainly doesn' cut much ice with mundane modes of transport.

  5. Anonymous9:56 pm

    In the bottom of my rucksack, a swiss army knife I'd had for years slipped into the lining between the two pockets. (Yes, it was an old rucksack). That knife, and it was pretty large, made it through Dulles airport in Washington, BWI here where I live near Baltimore, Heathrow, keflavik, Copenhagen, Malmo, Budapest, as well as O'Hare in Chicago and LAX. I'd completely forgotten about it until it was discovered by a nice fellow at Manchester airport's screening area. I think I traveled with it for 3 years total...it was confiscated last autumn.

  6. Anonymous1:25 pm

    It really seems to depend on the mood of the person running that desk or that x-ray machine.
    Last week, at Gatwick, my husband forgot something and queued somewhere else. By coincidence we ended up at security at the same time in adjacent queues.
    Everyone in his line had to take their shoes off, everyone in our line could keep them on.
    Needless to say, quite a few people said something about it but they just shrugged their shoulders and looked as disinterested as ever.


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