Memorable experiences going through airport security?

daft009

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not security but passport control out of SIN.
I was 13yo travelling with my mum and my 4yo sis.

had had a growth spurt (facial hair etc) being that age...

passport control officer said I couldn't go through as my photo did not look the same as me in a very serious tone.
he let my mum & sis through no issues.
mum knew he was kidding but he got me good.. i was starting to freak out till he started smiling !
 

Katie

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Me

BNE domestic, before the QF Premium entry opened. Sat afternoon, flying down to Sydney for an AFF dinner, IIRC.
I was asked about the small aerosol in my carryon. I explained to the male security officer that it was anti-static spray, and that I'd spray it on over my stockings and my dress wouldn't get staticy.

He confiscated it as I "wouldn't be spraying the spray directly on my body". 🤦‍♀️
I chose not to argue, but over the years I've found BNE domestic security to just have a thing about aerosols in carry on.

JFK, domestic flight, 1999
Security see an odd, blank cubic shape in my carryon. Want to inspect.
I show them a wrapped Tiffany and Co gift (my first trip to NYC, so I bought my Mum a crystal Tiffany box). They want to open it, as clearly the crystal is throwing up some interesting images, or lack thereof. I refuse because of the "Tiffany bow". I can't remember what happened, but the parcel went unopened until I got home to Mum. A couple of years later that would not have been possible.

The Child

LAX T5 security after either a day at Disney or arriving from Australia and transferring to an AA flight.
The child had a Cabbage Patch doll that looked very strange through the scanner. The darn thing had a mechanism whereby you fed it rectangular plastic "food", and then you pulled the food out of a hole in its tummy, and fed it to it again. Once we explained, TSA let it go through. Some time later, the child fed the doll Nutri Grain. That didn't go so well.

2018 CDG
Some kind of liquid is picked up in our carry on - what the?! Turns out it was in the kid's backpack ... a bottle of tomato sauce bought in Amsterdam 10 days earlier. I had been wondering where it was.
This was the trip I learned the kid is no longer cute enough to get away with things like this. Or maybe it was CDG security.

2008 LHR
First international trip with the kid, who's 18mths old. T5 about to fly to CDG. We have baby food bottles in our carryon in case it's needed. Security officer tells me he wants me to open the bottles, taste it in front of him. I said if I did that, I'd have to throw them all out, as they're meant to be consumed or refrigerated after opening. I couldn't be the first parent/carer taking baby food through security??!!
Officious so-and-so let us go through with them intact.
As a contrast, one of our last flights was from Venice -as we got to security, we realised we had something like a 1.5L water bottle. We try to drink what we can before going through. One of the agents sees us, sees the kid, and says "it's for the bambina, it's OK". What a contrast!!
 
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Seat0B

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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 if he has any further need of them in our parents speech.
Oh that is classic @Pushka - in every way! 50 shades of grey, I hear you say 😂😂😂
 

Seat0B

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Just before COVID, Seat Son returning to Duabi out of Sydney with a 1 kg tub of very precious vegemite in his hand luggage. We had already suggested this might be an issue and told him to put it in checked bags, but he didn't want to in case the plastic tub broke.

Security tell him he can't take it as it is a gel (now is it, really???). He says look, it's precious where I live, I will eat a spoonful of it in front of you to prove it's just food. They said, OK, and gave him a spoon. He ate a teaspoon full, pulling faces as it wasn't a great taste all concentrated like that. Then they said, "ok, but you chose the location of that spoonful. We will fill the next spoonful, and you can eat that too." So they did and he ate that too.

Then they went "ok thanks, very entertaining, but it's confiscated", and threw it in the bin. He was outraged. Pleaded, begged. They just laughed and told him to move on. Cruel to get his hopes up like that really!

When he headed home to Dubai in January 2022, the Vegemite went in his checked bag. Who says he's a slow learner!
 

Denali

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Syd-Qld flight for a scuba diving trip - because thats where the Great Barrier Reef is - and security tried to confiscate my scuba regulators because I could channel my inner David (of Goliath fame) and swing my scuba regs around my head while in the cabin and take out everyone within 4ft and then tie them up with them.

Me: Have you ever seen economy? You cant swing a dead cat let alone scuba regs.

Considering we were having this discussing right next to a tourism poster of a scuba diver, I think he wasnt aware of industry/why tourists were going there.

Another time LAX gave me such a up close, personal and invasive full pat down and into places that they shouldnt have touched I was left shaking and sweating afterwards as it was pretty shocking/unexpected. I actually investigated making a complaint about it as it was just wrong but decided it not worth my name being on a list next time I enter LAX.
 

AisleSeat

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Syd-Qld flight for a scuba diving trip - because thats where the Great Barrier Reef is - and security tried to confiscate my scuba regulators because I could channel my inner David (of Goliath fame) and swing my scuba regs around my head while in the cabin and take out everyone within 4ft and then tie them up with them.
Ha, I had similar at gate security in Abu Dhabi. Put my reg bag through the x-ray and was called aside. The guy wanted to know what it was, so I tried to explain to him. He eventually said "Swimming?" So I was like, "yeah, swimming" and he waved me off.
 

Lynda2475

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Worst experience was in La Paz, Bolivia.

Very early morning arrival after a series of epic overnight flights from Galapagos via Guayaquil, Quito and a couple of non listed stops at tiny Peruvian airports to offload/pickup before arriving with worse jetlag than any transpacific or transatlantic flight ever.

Female customs agent was in a right mood. Apparently having been in Peru and Ecuador beforehand was cause for suspicion, she proudly announced she wanted to go through my checked and carry-on bag for drugs, which was funny because dogs showed no interest and people smuggle drugs out of Bolivia not into it!

She was very perplexed by my packing cells, opened everyone of them, spent 5 minutes fondling my bras, opened and sniffed every toiletry (toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, toner, mouthwash) and of course found nothing. Then went onto my carry-on, found a box of chocolates I had bought for my Mum in Peru, proceeded to push her thumb through and break into each of the soft centres, making them inedible. Tried to hand the box back to me to repack and looked shocked when I told her to dispose of them as could no longer be eaten (a ruse perhaps to score some quality chocolate for herself).

Looked in my wallet, maybe she wanted a bribe but i hadnt been to an ATM so only had about US$20 and a similar amount of peruvian.

I had my long thick hair tied up in a bun, she was insisted on squeezing it and making me take my hair down, said that could not all be hair, she looked silly when it was. Final insult a body pat down.
 
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kookaburra75

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I must be lucky so far, I've been through a lot of dodgy places but they were all pre 2001.

The funniest (for me anyway) was coming back from NZ for work, through Sydney. I had looked around for some special gifts to bring home for the kids, and picked up some special scented glycerine soaps for my daughter. They were in nice wrapped packages. I put them in my back pack to keep them safe. When I got into Sydney I was picked to have my bags and back pack put through the xray machine. The back pack went in, and suddenly the staff looked very shocked and stepped away from the machine, and my backpack which was on the end of the belt. I was wondering what the problem was and then remembered the soap, how glycerine soap would fluoresce on the xrays, like other 'nasty' glycerine based products.

I quickly explained the situation, even carefully unwrapping the boxes to show them what I has. At least it got their hearts racing.
 

LCC

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This reminds me of the time coming back into SYD a few years ago when we got picked to go to the xray machine queue. There was an indian family ahead if us in the queue, the lady had a beautiful colourful sari on but aside from this all I can recall is being transfixed by a large plastic bag full of gherkins in brine which the immig guy was proudly holding up. I was so distracted by the sight of this (had never considered that people would bring food like this through on an international flight) that I then exited the area out into the terminal arrivals waiting area only to discover I left my handbag back near the xray scanner! I had a panicked OMG moment then calmly wandered back into the customs area against the flow of passengers. Luckily there was my handbag sitting where I had left it, so I picked it up and slunk back out before anyone official noticed me.
 

randompunter

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Varanasi, India - security agent opened my earplug case, picked up the ear plugs and fondled them between his dirty fingers, squishing and rolling them back and forth. He then looked perplexed and asked me what they were! 🤦‍♂️Told him they were his to keep.

One time departing FRA I had a glass stein full of little gummy beer lollies in my carry on. I'd bought this in Heidelberg and it was very nicely gift wrapped. The agent working the X-ray got all excited and called over his supervisor who insisted I unwrap it and show them what it was. He told me it looked exactly like a bomb on the screen.

Another memorable occasion was in Nukus, Uzbekistan - we were waiting in the departure lounge when they called my name over the PA. I got a special trip out the back to where the bags were being loaded onto the carts - in my bag they had found a suspicious item and couldn't determine what it was. It was a UV water steriliser - luckily Google translator had my back on that one.

One funny thing I have found recently with the newer style full body scanners that are popping up around the traps in Oz - Many of my trousers and shorts have a bonus pocket sewn inside the back for stashing stuff when we head to rougher areas overseas, apparently the newer scanners like to highlight this extra fabric as an unknown object and I get rewarded with a nice pat on the bum from the security agent.
 

Matt_01

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I only vaguely remember this one however it is still brought up by my Dad every now and again. It was back in the late 1970's as kids coming out of LAX, prior to check in my younger brother had a tantrum about a toy flintlock style pistol that had been purchased in Disneyland and he wanted to take it with him on the aircraft as he thought it may get lost. As it was made of wood and some type of fake metal/alloy my dad (an engineer) made the snap decision to run the gauntlet and rearranged stuff in our carry on as he suspected that it would get through the x-ray screening. My dad was correct and the bag with said flintlock style pistol did not attract any attention. What he hadn't considered was my brother who was around 6 at the time and when the security guard passed the bag to him happily said "Thanks Mister, we have a gun in there" or words to that effect. IIRC and listening to the story over the years dad was pulled aside, detained, all the family carry on was throughly checked and dad was escorted back to check in, which by then had closed and had to be re-opened. The family tale is most likely the reason I have been so paranoid when heading through security with MissM when she was younger.
 
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janelarm

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This is a very interesting thread. I can't even remember why I needed an exercise stress test the day before I flew to LAX. Arrived at Immigration counter which triggered an alarm and flashing lights. The officer told me it was sensitive to nuclear material, and then I realised the dye from the test had set off the alarm
 

andye

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Mstrandye3 has been known by his nickname since birth-frequently had to remind him his real name just before passport control when he was little

I get quite twitchy going through security when travelling with family, and a couple of times led the way doing the whole efficient thing, only to stare back ungallantly at mrsandye having to negotiate fold-up pram, baby and underwiring. Never a third time

Mrsandye is a very careful packer for customs and got quite a surprise when a Golden Retriever sat down next to her at BNE. Only thing we could think of was residual smell from complimentary apples in previous BWN hotel

OTOH, my mum is a very lackadaisical packer and amazes us when she pulls out half-finished Camembert etc when she unpacks at ours
 

AIRwin

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Got off a flight in Plovdiv back in the mid 1990’s and we were all made to queue up to go through the security scanner prior to passport control. As I waited my turn I noticed it wasn’t actually plugged in.
But did anyone manage to set it off?
 

cove

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At Heathrow my carry on got checked so all my medications were reviewed while my wife stood aside and laughed. I carry stuff for pretty much every eventuality. Seemed like 15 minutes but it probably was faster than that. All legit stuff but quite a bit to explain.
 

Seat0B

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Got off a flight in Plovdiv back in the mid 1990’s and we were all made to queue up to go through the security scanner prior to passport control. As I waited my turn I noticed it wasn’t actually plugged in.
This same thing happened to me when I stayed at Hotel Borobudur in Jakarta for work in 2014! Two visits 2 months apart!
 
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Just before COVID, Seat Son returning to Duabi out of Sydney with a 1 kg tub of very precious vegemite in his hand luggage. We had already suggested this might be an issue and told him to put it in checked bags, but he didn't want to in case the plastic tub broke.
I also had my Vegemite confiscated. Mine was in a tube and I hadn't even thought about it being a worry. It was only a little bit over the allowed size for a 'gel', so I offered to eat some, but was refused. I argued that it was un-Australian to confiscate Vegemite, but they took it anyway.

Luckily, I was able to replace it in NZ, before embarking on a month-long expedition cruise to Antarctica. It proved very popular with others during the rough Southern Ocean crossing.
 

jase05

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Heathrow security in 2006 and was asked to remove belt for scanning and had some very loose pants on. I mentioned this to security who barked at me and told me to raise my arms and I guess you know what happened next. Arms went up and pants went down. Think my wife was more embarrassed than me.

In Vietnam a few years back and can’t remember if it was DaNang or Hanoi but security demanded shoes and socks to be removed and the floor was filthy. Can still remember some type of sticky liquid squelching between my toes as we walked through
 

Melburnian1

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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.

In LAX years ago, travelling from MEL to South America and from memory in transit, I was taken to a room and searched by a smaller white gent and a fairly large black gent. Fortunately, I was allowed to keep my jocks on. It was scary, but the gents occasionally making jokes unrelated to the search was not something I was in the mood to appreciate.

After reentering the terminal someone senior came up to me and said 'Sir, thank you very much for not complaining...' His tone implied they'd picked the wrong person, but I later assumed it was a random search. I'll never know.
 
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