Memorable experiences going through airport security?

LCC

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Hello, first posting so please excuse any rookie errors! With the recent talk about being "match fit" to get processed efficiently through Sydney airport security I wondered what memorable experiences members may have had over the years going through security checks. We typically only do one big trip a year to either the US skiing or maybe Europe but I dread the tedium and sometimes chaos of going through the security process. Now my hubby likes to travel with his carryon bag full of all sorts of bits and pieces, mostly of the electrical cable, gadget and adaptor species. As a result 99% of the time his bag gets pulled up for further checking. One of the most memorable checks was at Aspen airport where we were the last to go through security due to ticket/bag tagging issues at checkin (that's a whole other story). The security officer decided he had to take 15 minutes to look through every single bit of Mr. L's bag, even to the point of pulling out bits of paper, eyeing them off and feeling around the edges. Had to restrain Mr. L from making a sarcastic comment about the liklihood of being able to make a bomb out of paper. Similarly on our recent trip home flying out of Zurich we had the lady at the security checkpoint have the usual forage though the bag and decide that she had to pull out every single item (that's a lot of stuff let me tell you!) place everything in the plastic containers and resend it all through the scanner. Anyway as always everyone seems quite happy once this process is dealt with and we venture on our way...
 

Pushka

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My funniest one was in the USA three years ago when they detected a very suspicious article in the bottom of my bag. They rummaged through it and pulled out - a book! Clearly everyone uses electronic thinggies these days.

And border control - I'd packed some lollies from Adelaide for a trip to Bali but the kids didn't eat them and they stayed in their luggage. Back in SA border control and three of us were pulled aside and read our rights! What had the kids done! 😱They knew exactly where to dig into the luggage and pulled out the bag of lollies that were the perfect shape for drugs! I told them they could eat one.
 
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DeKa

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Arriving in Taipei, with a colleague, I was asked to follow a security guy. I was taken to a room and asked why I was there (work) and for how long (3 days). I was asked what was in my bag - as it was a short trip I had my cabin bag only. I suspect I said a few clothes, shoes and that’s it.

They wanted to look through my bag which was fine, and I was asked about a new pack of permanent markers in the bag which I hadn’t mentioned. I said I picked them up in the stationary cupboard in the office in Sydney to use on butchers paper when running a workshop. They wanted to open them to which I agreed.

The guy opened the package, took the lid off a pen and laughed. They were fruit scented permanent marker pens which had obviously been detected by a dog in the queue 😂

He gave me the marker pens back and let me go. My colleague wondered what had taken so long.

Ever since, I make sure I only travel with normal pens (or none at all)!
 

VPS

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Going through Paris a few years ago and HLO and they were looking for something so had to pull absolutely everything out of my case and they fussed around for ages and then said oh sorry it wasn't your case we saw something suspicious in. FFS
 

drron

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The bad.
A transit through LHR and had to change terminals to T3. At security taken into a room and strip searched. no reason given and the 2 fellows laughed the whole time.

The ugly.
Yangon. just walked through. Nothing taken out of my bag. Took off no item of clothing and despite my knee replacement no ping from the machine.

The good.
In the 80s leaving Taiwan. Men and women lined up separately. Women were patted down by a man and men by a women. I managed to be patted down very thoroughly by a gorgeous Eurasian woman. Though about asking if she would do it again.:)
 

Seat0B

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I once received the full treatment in CBR for daring to possess a handbag hook like the one shown here:

1649573006856.png
I get that maybe men don't know what this is, so I helpfully took it out and demonstrated its use, including showing that there is no sharp point on it - it's totally rounded so as to avoid damaging the handbag or table it hooks onto, as well as being collapsible. In other words, no way it could be used as a weapon. He said he wasn't interested, it was prohibited and must be surrendered. I asked him to show me where it was listed as prohibited - of course he couldn't, just kept saying it could be used as a weapon.

Given that I can take knitting needles on the flight, and get given metal cutlery with my meal, I really could not agree that this inoffensive little thing was a weapon. I guess I must have had a bad day that day because I saw red and refused to surrender it - it was not sentimental, and they cost about $10! I insisted on speaking to a female supervisor - none to be found - of course. Then I said, Ok a female security person could probably explain it to you.

By now, there were 2 other female passengers agreeing with me that it was ridiculous, as did the female security staff. Original security guy probably by now should have just let go, but he didn't - and I didn't either. So there was quite a stand off while head office was called etc etc. In the end, it was agreed that a handbag hook is not a prohibited item. Total time invested 30 mins. Don't really know why I chose to die in a ditch over that. I guess I just hate the arbitrary stupidity of most of the security decisions.

I made my way to Qantas Business Lounge, and as soon as I sat down, the Qantas Manager for the Airport bustled over to me with a special drink, a nice little plate of snacks and said " someone has needed to do that for a while - thank you" - yes, she was female - and she uses a handbag hook 😀.

BTW, have subsequently made sure NEVER to have a handbag hook on me ever again when travelling.
 

Pushka

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I once received the full treatment in CBR for daring to possess a handbag hook like the one shown here:

View attachment 274639
I get that maybe men don't know what this is, so I helpfully took it out and demonstrated its use, including showing that there is no sharp point on it - it's totally rounded so as to avoid damaging the handbag or table it hooks onto, as well as being collapsible. In other words, no way it could be used as a weapon. He said he wasn't interested, it was prohibited and must be surrendered. I asked him to show me where it was listed as prohibited - of course he couldn't, just kept saying it could be used as a weapon.

Given that I can take knitting needles on the flight, and get given metal cutlery with my meal, I really could not agree that this inoffensive little thing was a weapon. I guess I must have had a bad day that day because I saw red and refused to surrender it - it was not sentimental, and they cost about $10! I insisted on speaking to a female supervisor - none to be found - of course. Then I said, Ok a female security person could probably explain it to you.

By now, there were 2 other female passengers agreeing with me that it was ridiculous, as did the female security staff. Original security guy probably by now should have just let go, but he didn't - and I didn't either. So there was quite a stand off while head office was called etc etc. In the end, it was agreed that a handbag hook is not a prohibited item. Total time invested 30 mins. Don't really know why I chose to die in a ditch over that. I guess I just hate the arbitrary stupidity of most of the security decisions.

I made my way to Qantas Business Lounge, and as soon as I sat down, the Qantas Manager for the Airport bustled over to me with a special drink, a nice little plate of snacks and said " someone has needed to do that for a while - thank you" - yes, she was female - and she uses a handbag hook 😀.

BTW, have subsequently made sure NEVER to have a handbag hook on me ever again when travelling.
Handcuff? Shades of Grey just out?
 

Franky

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Going through Paris a few years ago and HLO and they were looking for something so had to pull absolutely everything out of my case and they fussed around for ages and then said oh sorry it wasn't your case we saw something suspicious in. FFS
Mine was I always carry 2m of plastic chain which I use to secure our suitcases, which always stand out like the proverbial, to a rear seat bracket in our hire cars. On our return home, I packed the chain in a pair of shoes, which attracted their attention and had to go thru the trick questions as to why I would need such an item in my travels.
 

RooFlyer

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London Heathrow. The security was so slow and execrable I just had to smile rather than swear under my breath.

Chief lady at the security saw this and asked what I was smiling about. I just said I was happy to be here but she glared at me and muttered something and went to talk to one of her colleagues and pointed at me.

Then they went through absolutely everything in my carry-on, piece by piece, through the sniffer, in the scanner again. It took about 15 minutes and I just kept smiling the whole time and made them quite unhappy.

Poor sods I could never do that job. A bad day all round.

And welcome to AFF @LCC 😊 Great first post.
 
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The weirdest one I had was at Gatwick. They obviously noticed some currency in my bag. I travel a lot, and keep spare currency, maybe a few dozen notes in all. They insisted on checking it.

Why weird? Well, they're security, not customs. And as far as I'm aware there's absolutely no rule about taking money OUT of the UK without declaring it? Taking it in is understandable, but taking it out? It's not thing except in countries where currency trading is restricted afaik.
 

Captain Halliday

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Not security, but Immi at LAX.

This was my first overseas trip (excluding New Zealand), not too long after 9/11 and I had been told all sorts of horror stories about US border officials.

It was also well before I was aware of AFF.

As a rookie traveller I was in row 485 on the 747 and therefore last off the plane and stuck at the back of a very long Immi queue.

Armed officials prowled up and down the line.

Though I had nothing to worry about I was tired and feeling generally uneasy.

A big - and I mean big - female border official approached the line.

Broad shoulders.

Stern face.

No smile.

She gave off a shoot-first, ask questions later vibe. Don’t they all.

She asked no one in particular if we were the flight from Australia.

Someone confirmed and she immediately called everyone’s attention and hollered, “Which of you have got Tim Tams? Flight from down under, some of you are carrying Tim Tams and I want to know who!”

I started sweating bullets.

I had one packet intended for my uncle who’d lived in the US for many years.

I kept my eyes down, waiting for someone else to confess.

I was at the back of the line. Surely one of the 400 people ahead of me would break.

No one.

The woman started prowling the line, eye balling people and asking again, “400 people from down under and no one has Tim Tams. I don’t believe you. It’ll be better for you if you just tell me now”.

I considered dumping the biscuits.

I thought about staying quite and keeping my eyes down.

But beads of sweat had formed on my brow.

Confession was my only option.

The brutal looking border guard inched closer and then eyeballed me.

I tentatively raised me hand.

There were audible gasps from other passengers.

The 400 people ahead of me turned to stare.

The guard drew closer.

Roberta, according to her shiny badge.

She put an arm around my shoulders and I braced for some kind of crusher move that would disable me and have me on the floor, screaming in agony.

“So you got Tim Tams?” she asked in a more hushed voice.

I nodded, waiting for the take-down.

Then she smiled.

A big, broad, happy smile.

She patted me on the back and said… “hand ‘em over and you go straight to the front of this line.”

I couldn’t get the Tim Tams out of my bag quick enough.

I handed them over and was ushered straight to the front of the cabin crew/airport staff queue.

As I handed my passport over the slightly less brutal looking agent chuckled at me and said, “I see you’ve made friends with Roberta.”

I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.

But I cleared Immi in less than 90 seconds.

Welcome to the United States!
 
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As a follow on to Captain Halliday, we had a similar experience when arriving at LAX in early January this year.

We were called up to the immigration officer who saw our Australian passports. He said ‘welcome back, we have missed you’! He then asked where his Tim Tams were. Wasn’t quite as receptive when we offered him vegemite! A very friendly return to the USA.
 

samh004

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A very old one from me, but back when I schooled in the UK I often travelled as a UM between HK and UK. At some point the school took me on an excursion to a museum (presumably) about war and I was able to purchase some spent bullets as a souvenir. Flew back to HK at the term break, no issue and completely forgot about them. However, on my way back through Chek Lap Kok I was stopped at security and pretty soon found myself face to face with a squad of HK police and their semi-automatic guns, rummaging through my bag. They eventually found the bullet and I was very embarrassed I had forgotten about them. To their credit they inspected them, determined they were not a threat, or I was not a threat, and the airline checked the souvenir in so I could pick it up at the other end. Was a surreal experience when they all turned up... 😱
 

jakeseven7

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Launceston (TAS) “TSA” threatening an old lady over her carry on umbrella and explaining how it could kill everyone onboard.
Had to intervene to calm them down. Hmmmm.
 

OATEK

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On a trip home from the UK in 1987 that had included a wedding, we had my mother-in-law with us and our two girls. Both MIL and mrsoatek had acquired an extensive and quite heavy collection of china in our travels, and it was distributed amongst all the carry on bags.

At xray, MIL pulled aside and told her bag was to be searched. She put on her best little old lady voice and said if they told her what they were looking for perhaps she could help. Did not go down well. Eventually the offending object was found, a small letter opener in the shape of an English broadsword. They said it was a potential weapon and carried on a bit. MIL tried to argue it was a present for her cousin etc, but it was taken. I could see tears forming so had to step in and try to end what MIL later called "brutal" treatment, but all ended well.
 

offshore171

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Egypt.

Domestic flight from Aswan in the south back up to Cairo.

Boarding was via the tarmac. Passengers standing around waiting to board via the stairs. All of a sudden a couple of jeeps rocked up with uniformed, military looking blokes on board.

They get out and demand all baggage is unloaded. Some forklifts come and take off all the bags.

They are laid out on the tarmac. All passengers are asked to claim their bags.

One or two bags are unclaimed. These are taken away by a guy in a bomb suit and loaded into a van.

We are then asked to board the aircraft for our flight!
 

AisleSeat

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All the exact details have been forgotten about this one, but here's how it went.

It was 1986 and we were leaving ZA for HK. So naturally I packed all the toys I wanted to bring with me on the airplane. At the airport we went through security and my bag was inspected. Out came two cap guns.

The rest of the details are forgotten, but we were allowed to board. Apparently I did get them back, but don't remember.
 

asterix

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May 2019 on our way home after a month long trip in Europe we were at Manchester airport going through security. My carry on bag set something off and I was pulled aside and patted down, the bag emptied and checked over and thoroughly rechecked over and over. At the same time my wife and 12 and 10 year old kids were having their bags emptied separately. Apparently my bag had some chemical residue on it which was common in explosives. I explained that the driver who had driven us from the hotel to the airport must have just cleaned his car as it had a chemical smell and that satisfied them.

My wife recently flew through Manchester again early this year and security were very thorough again. The security at Manchester airport is the most stringent I've experienced anywhere.
 

Pushka

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All the exact details have been forgotten about this one, but here's how it went.

It was 1986 and we were leaving ZA for HK. So naturally I packed all the toys I wanted to bring with me on the airplane. At the airport we went through security and my bag was inspected. Out came two cap guns.

The rest of the details are forgotten, but we were allowed to board. Apparently I did get them back, but don't remember.
We went, on another trip to Bali with young 10 year old. He packed his own backpack. My bad. We got to check in and thankfully the agent asked if there was anything risky in hand luggage. Thank god she did as young son asked if these were ok - and pulled out handcuffs and a toy pistol. This was 25 years ago. We are off to UK next month for his delayed wedding celebration and we are taking toy handcuffs to him and asking, in our parents speech, if he has any further need of them.
 
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