Memorable experiences going through airport security?

aspro2

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In mid/late 2002 I had to travel to Toronto for a conference, flying back YTO-SFO-MEL. IIRC, you did US immigration clearance at YTO before boarding. I was a good boy and called Air Canada to confirm how early I had to be at the airport in Toronto. 2.5 hours they said. So I rocked up 2.5 hours before departure. The queue was mind-boggling. After about an hour I was getting anxious. An officious crone was prowling the queue and chastised me for arriving so late. Surprisingly, I held my tongue. (I don't remember the exact order of the queues, but anyway, what I remember next is...)

At the security checkpoint my stuff was inspected by a friendly Polish-Canadian guy (weird detail to remember). First, he wanted me to turn on the Firewire external hard-drive I was carrying. Alas, it was just a data store that I had no power source for until returning to the lab back home. He was nice about that. Then he found my little personal distress alarm (you know the ones: pull the cord, it screams). I had to demonstrate it (wisely muffling it in my jumper) and it got confiscated.

Then my backpack was swabbed. And then a machine went beep. And then I was asked if I had any heart medication. And then I was asked if I'd been near a military facility recently. And then my bag was swabbed again. And then it beeped again. And then I was being attended to by about four security guys and a supervisor and repeated mention of "explosive". And by then I was about as white as a Korean boyband member (I think I died a little!). The supervisor started filling out a form and asking me more questions, and I don't know how many more swabs were done until enough were negative to let me go.

And go I did... because there were 21 mins until my flight should depart. The Polish-Canadian guy said "you should run". I did. I reached the gate and what do you think happened next? "Excuse me sir, random search. Please remove your shoes for inspection. Please open your bag."

I made the flight. I sat (in Economy, but no companion and a window seat, thank god) and cried a little, and watched Monsters Inc on the overhead monitor, and prayed that my *pounding* headache would pass.

At SFO I went to the United lounge (onward flight was in Business) and asked the barman (using my drink coupon; do they still do that?) for something to relieve stress and kill my headache. He asked me one or two questions and delivered a Whiskey Sour. It was perfect. And then I boarded my plane home.
 

aspro2

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No Aspro handy?
Hehehe, you know, I started reading AFF not too long after that, so maybe I was inspired by the experience to name my profile when i eventually signed up .

Better prepared for eventualities now, including headaches;)
 

mrfreeze

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A few years ago I was travelling back from BKK to SYD and was behind another passenger who was holding up the security line by talking on his phone and not placing his back pack etc. on the belt to go through the X-Ray screening.

The security officer was not impressed and she asked him a couple of times if he had a laptop in the bag, take off shoes etc. but he did not listen and kept talking on the phone so I told him in no uncertain terms to get off his phone and listen to what security were telling him to do.

He looked at me in shock, and I looked at the security agent who gave me a big smile and motioned me to go in front of him.
I went through and noticed he was not behind me, he was being made to wait as others were also waved past him.

I noticed him about 15 minutes later walking into passport control as I was about to exit and go to the gate.
He did not look too happy at all.
 

andye

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A few years ago I was travelling back from BKK to SYD and was behind another passenger who was holding up the security line by talking on his phone and not placing his back pack etc. on the belt to go through the X-Ray screening.

The security officer was not impressed and she asked him a couple of times if he had a laptop in the bag, take off shoes etc. but he did not listen and kept talking on the phone so I told him in no uncertain terms to get off his phone and listen to what security were telling him to do.

He looked at me in shock, and I looked at the security agent who gave me a big smile and motioned me to go in front of him.
I went through and noticed he was not behind me, he was being made to wait as others were also waved past him.

I noticed him about 15 minutes later walking into passport control as I was about to exit and go to the gate.
He did not look too happy at all.
Maybe he'd finally got through to QF customer service and daren't hang up 😉
 

laffer

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Amsterdam airport. Made the mistake of leaving my belt on. Received the most thorough frisk search from security. Full marks for the thoroughness but he came close to copping a feel of the nether regions which started to make me less appreciative of the thoroughness.
 
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Ade

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2015 - SIN airport security check at the boarding gate. SIN-MAA SQ flight

The security post was manned by 4 staff (couple of Indian origin & couple of Chinese origin staff, why is this important - will let you know below)

The usual drill in security - laptops & LAG's out of the bags, empty your pockets. I had done all that and when I went through the security, the thing beeped. So a Chinese origin staff with the wand, asked me to step on the little tile so that he can inspect.

He did the checks a couple more times, each time neutralising the wand on his belt buckle. For some reason the wand kept going beep ... he couldn't figure it out and I told in English that I didn't have any metal on me ... Now, this is where it gets strange - The Chinese origin officer asked me in clear Tamil if I had anything in my pockets or if I had any surgery ?

I was taken aback with his accent and the choice of his Tamil words .. If i had closed my eyes and listened to what he just said, I wouldn't be expecting to see a person of Chinese origin to speak such clear Tamil .. I was pleasantly surprised and I flipped my pockets for him to check. As I was leaving, he said that his family settled in SIN a few generations back and it is a thing in his family (of Chinese relatives) to marry Indian people from South India and his Indian relatives married Chinese people in SIN.

The whole conversation was in Tamil and honestly, I'm surprised to this day :)
 

theblank

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I had a couple of golf club iron heads in my carry on, travelling domestic in USA. The scanner guy thought it might be small handguns.
They didnt get out the rubber gloves but, the security guy kindly suggested i put them in the checked bag next time. At least they have a better sense of humour than the actual customs staff.
 

trooper

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I was reminded by the "lead" story upthread! On my way to yet another series of overseas pistol competitions and I was planning to load my ammo once I got there (using a US friends loading machines...One is only allowed 5kg of ammunition in checked baggage..which is barely enough for one competition ) SO..I was taking unprimed cartridge cases and a box of 500 lead projectiles. (Primers and propellant powder being purchased over there!) As with the earlier "lead" story...that was a problem. I was paged..then escorted into the bowels of SYD....my bag was in a tiny office deep down there. The box of projectiles had shown up as a single, very dark mass... (Not surprisingly!) All smiles when I opened it up and showed them. I think those of us who travel with firearms and ammunition simply have to be prepared for some small hiccoughs. The only time I find it annoying is when the "problem" is that the airline staff don't know their own rules...
 

Black Duck

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In 1979 I was returning from London and stopped at security. They asked if there was a knife in my hand luggage. I had to think but I had packed a very nice porcelain plate that had been given to me. I forgot there was a sharp serrated knife that went with it. I said yes sorry I overlooked it. How big is the knife? Well the blade is around 20cms I think. Oh well that's fine then, off you go.
 

drron

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Though some of us sort of able bodied folks get that treatment. I am more often than not refused permission to use the full body scanner even though then I do not need to take shoes and belt off nor need a pat down which would save every one time.This occurs around the world not just here.

The only agent with common sense was when leaving SIN a week ago. He was telling people to take their shoes off. I told I had a knee replacement and he said leave everything on then as we are going to pat you down anyway.
 

jakeseven7

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Memorable for all the wrong reasons. And apparently not an isolated example.

What a surprise.

Adelaide airport.

Again.

I would believe any story from Adelaide, the ‘security’ crew there are total nut cases. Never seen such rude people.
 

Seat0B

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What a surprise.

Adelaide airport.

Again.

I would believe any story from Adelaide, the ‘security’ crew there are total nut cases. Never seen such rude people.
I have. The ones in Perth are equally as bad. I have a double knee replacement and get treated like a terrorist. Every. Single. Time. In all locations. But the ones in Perth and Adelaide are definitely the rudest of the lot. To make it worse, the knee replacements re the result of a military injury when I was serving in the ADF. I’m hardly the kind of person to be a security risk.
 

mrsterryn

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1)
FRA I think 2012 (?) Husband had a 1.5 litre bottle of some alcohol in his carry on. Yep that didn't go through. Vaguely remember somehow he managed to get it into the checked luggage after that . A tad stressful
Edited to say neither of us really drink. It was for son
2) son was travelling around the world post my father passing away. Due to this he received a sizeable inheritance . As he was between study and employment he was putting down "unemployed" however was travelling Business class and this appear to be triggering extra security checks at LHR. After the fourth or fifth time of being a pig headed idiot , he actually showed his bank account and explained the reasons for his funds and ability to travel..no more extra checks at LHR after that .
 
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jpp42

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Domestic in Australia, at MEL they had one of those newfangled X ray machines that doesn't require you to remove anything, including laptops. The machine flagged a corner of my bag and it was sent for manual inspection. The agent couldn't find anything and sent it through a second time - still flagged. After looking a second time he gave up and allowed me my bag.

At home, I found a five-pack of utility knife refills that I had inadvertently failed to move to my checked bag. Machine knew more than man, it seems!
 

Seat0B

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Oh you've just reminded me @jpp42! In 2004, we took a family trip to USA - Seat Son was 1a young teenager at the time. We took a number of one way flights to get from NY to LA, with visits to friends in Ohio and Missouri and a ski trip in Colorado in the middle. As we were leaving Denver to connect to LAX to connect home, we approached security and diligently offloaded all our water bottles into the bin provided so as not to be over the limit for liquids on board - which at that time were also restricted on domestic flights in the USA. I checked with the kids - are you sure you have either drunk or thrown out all your water - yes mum they chorused back.

Unfortunately, we then noticed that we had the dreaded SSSS on our boarding passes - probably because of the one way flights.

So off we all go, all four of us, for the extensive additional screening that took a very long time. We had so much hand luggage, winter coats, back packs, ski helmets, everything. They put it all through a scanner, then unpacked every single bag and searched thoroughly through it all, even went through the pockets of our coats, etc before telling us we could now repack everything and leave - all OK. Well the repack was a nightmare and took ages - you know how nothing ever goes back the same way after the first time - and you also know how overheated US airports are in winter. By the time it was all done, we were lathered in sweat and the kids were asking for drinks throughout the whole process. I said we'd buy some once we finished.

We "saunter" off to the tables in the food court, as much as you can after that sort of ordeal, sit down and as I am about to go off to buy water for us all, Seat Son opens his back pack and pulls out 4 x 250ml cans of coke that he took from the hotel lounge that morning and says here mum, have this! After all the searching, scanning and unpacking, somehow they totally missed a litre of liquids in his back pack 😂

Why is it always Seat Son that I write about and never Seat Daughter?????
 

lameyofth

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Elderly woman with a sword cane. She had no idea it was a sword - her son was a service member and had sent it to her from the Philippines without mentioning what it was. A couple headed up to Alaska with a sink, complete with plumbing attached, in a large duffle bag. Hunter returning from Canada with some unlicensed kills. Unprepped and still bleeding severed musk-ox heads wrapped in plastic. Whole baggage system for half the airport had to be shut down and cleaned, along with a couple of our machines.
 
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kiwitripper64

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What a great thread.
We were flying out of BKK with the 7 yr old daughter. Pre check in and the security asked us to go to a table to check carry on. There were about 6 staff and all the bags were opened at the same time.
Suddenly the one opening the daughters carry on jumped back. Massive rise in tension all around and no idea what was happening. The staff were all on alert. Then he picked up her American Girl doll. We were saying, "no, not baby, DOLLY" . Those dolls were reasonably realistic and it caught his attention. Then other staff had to pick themselves of the floor laughing. I'm sure the original guard has never heard the last of it.
In Brisbane we were doing a transit and the wife had some Japanese cosmetics. All up she had over 1 plastic bag worth. The woman at screening was taking it as personal victory saying she had to throw some of the cosmetics and liquids out. I asked if it was 1 plastic bag per person and she said yes. So I asked if I could take one of the bags. She reluctantly said yes. Problem solved. Best bit was i had gone through as the person before my wife ( same screening person) and had been made to show my plastic bag of carry on toiletries. So I ended up with 2 bags and a happy wife.
 
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