Thursday, December 6, 2012

Texas vs London. Airport Security and Border Patrol.

Airport security.
Ohhh the joys of Airport security.

WARNING
THIS POST MAY BE NEGATIVE AND DOWN RIGHT SARCASTIC AT TIMES!

I have flown across the Atlantic Ocean many times, the Pacific one too. But just lately I have flown across the the Atlantic 24 times in 5 years.

There are those new controversial airport scanners, (Advanced Imaging Technology), you stand in them with your thumbs on your head and palms out, and this machine quickly whirls around you. Causing security check in to run quickly and smoothly  and it's all great... right? Well... Not so much. I went in one about 5 months ago and only had a short jean skirt on, sandals and a light cotton top on. The alarms went off and I got my annual "Pat down"... then I was told I set off something on my left leg and the security lady asked me if I "HAD A METAL PLATE IN MY LEG". I told her "I didn't even have a scar where one could have been put in". Apparently IQ levels are not a matter of national security... or at least the people that work for national security.

Here are some small but very useful tips I have picked up along the way.

Security...

Airport Security Officers have no sense of humor. Don't make small talk with them, they don't care. In fact, I think they probably would prefer you to just have a somber face and get on with it. Don't joke with them... It only ticks them off.

1. NEVER arrive late. There is a reason the airlines tells you to get to the airport early, it's not so you can sit around with nothing to do. I nearly missed my flight home because I was held up in security this time around.

2. ALWAYS have your laptop or large electronic devices out of the bag and ready to be put on the table. Do NOT wait for security to tell you to or until you get right up to the security table, also have your small bottles (3 ounces or less) in your plastic approved baggy and ready to also place separately on the security table. There isn't one single traveler that wants to stand around waiting for you to get it together and get moving and security will be less than amused.

3. I've found that every airport I have flown out of here in the United States makes you take your shoes off to be scanned, years ago I had to do that at Heathrow but as of right now they aren't requiring it. If you have to remove your shoes... keep it simple. I've worn fashionable riding boots only to have to walk around looking for a place to sit back down to put them back on and zip them back up. Now I just wear flats or sandals... anything I can slip on and off.

4. If you have to be searched. Don't give attitude. Trust me, I learned the hard way. And I think I was kept even longer for it. Just do as they ask, it will be over soon. Yes... they will wave a metal wand all around your body, yes the female will (In front of God and everyone) feel between your breasts, under your breasts and around your breasts (This is a good time for Gerard Butler to be working airport security). They will raise your shirt up and feel under and around your waist line as well. I have been swabbed for drugs and bomb residue as well. I asked what they were doing. They told me.

5. DON'T wear anything that might have metallic thread. I wore the cutest maroon and gold colored sweater to the airport, it IS close to Christmas after all... Alarms screaming... My sweater had metallic thread. Check. It will save yourself grief! Another pat down ensued for me!

6. Be honest about what you have with you. I have been searched several times. They will not repack your bag for you and remember that sense of humor? Ya... well... I told a guard once, in a joking way "that since they unpacked my bag they have to repack it". I WAS SO KIDDING... smiling and everything. The man said to me "MA'AM I DO NOT HAVE TO REPACK YOUR BAGS"... "Dude, take a chill pill". I really was kidding. Keep in mind, If they find something you didn't claim. You will be charged. So far. I'm good there. I tell them about all the pounds of chocolate and magazines :)

This is why the Advanced Imaging Technology is controversial. But to be honest, I'd rather them see me and everyone else in the buff than to have something very dangerous happen aboard an airplane.
Border Patrol...

Though they have a bit more of a sense of humor than said security, don't push your luck. They aren't easily amused either.

1. When traveling to the UK, always have a travel Itinerary. I have 2 "Naughty" stamps in my passport because I forgot to print out my itinerary and didn't have my return ticket. I tried both times to explain that everything is done online and that tickets aren't issued that way, that you get your boarding pass upon arrival. They told me this wasn't their problem and they needed proof that I would be returning to the USA and not staying in the UK... seriously? I have a job, school, kids... But they were dead serious.

2. Be prepared to answer very personal questions. Like how much money you have on you, how many credit cards you have and their limits and how much money you have in the bank. It amazes me that they actually think Americans are going to be over stayers, but I guess they have to treat everyone equally. And that's fair. So prepare.

3. Have the addresses of where you're staying available. They will ask. They will also want to know exactly WHY you want to come to England.

And last but not least.

At the Airport...

If this is you....
If you stand around the check-in desk, clogging up the aisle that leads to the plane entrance hall, if you stand there making everyone say "Excuse me", as they try to get by...
If airport staff have told you over the speaker countless times to please move out of the way.
SIT YOUR BUTT DOWN AND WAIT FOR YOUR SEAT ROWS TO BE CALLED! You're being rude! You will get on your plane. They won't forget you!

10 comments:

  1. yep been there done that and have the t-shirt!!!

    Gill

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  2. Thanks for great information you write it very clean. I am very lucky to get this tips from you.

    Airport Security

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  3. This is brilliant. It should be printed out and given to every traveller! M x

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  4. Thank goodness I don't travel abroad any more. I haven't been out of England since 2008.

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  5. gosh what a palaver! but I guess good really. Happy travelling, Heather x

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  6. Enjoyed this post!! My cousin flew to London. At the airport here in the States, as her bag went through security, she was pulled aside while they tore her bag apart. They found the dangerous device they were looking for: two sausages tied together with a pair of pantyhose. LOL This is not made up. In that case, the security guards did laugh. But I don't think my cousin did anything like that a second time. :-)

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    Replies
    1. Okay that made me laugh out loud...
      I feel for your cousin!! Haha... kind of embarrassing as well when they go through your personals!!!

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  7. Oh-I love your sass, girl. You found my blog and left a comment so I backlinked and here I am. I am your newest follower- I like your sarcasm! Diana

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  8. Gosh, you are a pro at overseas flights. Wow, you travel a lot!!

    I once got in trouble with airport security for not taking off my flip flops. I thought I was good with those... apparently not.

    I'm also always that girl who gets pulled to the side for the pat down. I must look like trouble... lol!

    Great advice. I'll keep your tips in mind for my next flight.

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  9. Choose a cardigan or jacket with a zipper or buttons so you don't have to pull anything over your head. Wear slip-on shoes or zippered boots. Put small metal objects — cellphone, watch, keys, coins — in your coat pockets for easy pick up after security. Buckle your belt to your bag to keep from losing it. If you travel with a money belt or pouch, hold off putting it on until after you go through airport security. 00M-657, 000-318, 000-283

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Thank you for your positive comments!