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Heathrow Airport -Is it the unfriendliest in the world?

Heathrow Airport -Is it the unfriendliest in the world?

Nov 5th, 2006, 02:15 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
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There are, I suspect, folks like the individual described by Faux in lots of locations and I am sure LHR doesn't have a monopoly on them.

I had difficulty with a TSA screener in Newark a couple of years ago who "decided" (to use his word) that the bicycle locking cable I had in my carry-on "could be used as a weapon" and needed to be checked or given up. Interestingly, not a word was said about the HUGE bottle of frozen almost solid drinking water I also had which would have made the greatest billyclub you've ever seen.

I also had a customs agent at JFK tell me he "wasn't going to levy any duty" on a gold bracelet I was wearing and had bought several years BEFORE I got there. I felt like I was supposed to drop down to worship and adore because I had been graciously "granted" this dispensation of all time.

I have no idea why some people act as they do and Faux can rationalize the behavior in any way but it often remains non-understandable and ultimately, rather sad.
Dukey is offline  
Nov 5th, 2006, 02:21 AM
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And I think that Carrybean has hit the crux of the matter, it is how lucky or unlucky you are in getting which particular official, and in what mood.

Returning through Heathrow last month, tired and irritable after a 14 hour flight, I ccame across an obnoxious immigration official who demanded my wife and I stand directly in front of the desk. Had he asked politely - "would you stand here" or similar, it would have been no problem, but it was his attitude, and his manner (The sign merely asks that passengers remain behind the yellow line - which we were).

A customs official at Cairns airport was strutting around, shouting at people, demanding that we all produce boarding passes (this is after we left the plane). I commented on this to the very pleasant immigration official - who said "Oh, just ignore him - give some people a uniform and they get delusions of grandeur".

willit is online now  
Nov 5th, 2006, 02:32 AM
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I'm not sure it is the most unfriendliest in the world but I have certainly had my problems there in the past. I have had problems when asking airport personell for directions, the traffic around the airport can be horrible, it is a drag when you have to move between terminals etc. So it is not my favourite airport thats for sure

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gard is offline  
Nov 5th, 2006, 02:33 AM
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Well, we know what all those kids who volunteered to be hall monitors grew up to be.
Carrybean is offline  
Nov 5th, 2006, 03:05 AM
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Yes it is tough at the moment. I use it a lot and can understand the staff frustration of people who cannot count that "one bag" means 1 not 2, 3 or in the case of the idiot in front of me 6..

Still I think LA is the worst if you are transfering through say UK to NZ. The staff treat you as muck, the space is tight and evry one is half way through a 24 hour flight
bilboburgler is online now  
Nov 5th, 2006, 03:19 AM
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The worst immigrations office I've experienced was at the US/Canadian border, crossing into Canada. She basically gave me hell for having a US attitude. And that was in the early 90's.

I went through Heathrow a couple of times this year and was treated with respect and even a dash of humour. I did feel that the security lines were understaffed.
kleeblatt is offline  
Nov 5th, 2006, 06:33 AM
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The problem is, immigration officials to some degree cannot be 'friendly' since part of their job includes the decidedly unfriendly task of keeping this or that party from entering the country. Consequently, we can't really expect them to act, quite, like 'greeters' or agents of the tourist industry.

We also don't know what specific problems they might be trying to address - perhaps there is a Romanian criminal ring in operation that UK officials are trying to crack, for example. The official's supervisor may well expect certain questions to be asked of prospective entrants who display certain traits (visits to or from certain countries within a certain period, for example.)It can be seen as more interesting than annoying if one remembers it's just part of the job.

So, one is probably best off not taking too personally the questions asked, especially since just about everything the official does is quite deliberate, including much of the rudeness. Their job is, after all, to interrogate people, not simply poll us for a statistical survey. The whole point in some instances is to challenge claims made to them to see if these bear up under pressure.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Nov 5th, 2006, 07:04 AM
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"...we can't really expect them to act, quite, like 'greeters' or agents of the tourist industry..."

I honestly don;t think anyone IS asking that they do this or even expecting it.

What I DO think people are asking is to be treated with respect, not like cattle, and not like children.

Acting like an SOB or a piece of snot does NOT make anybody more efficient in "keeping people out."
Dukey is offline  
Nov 5th, 2006, 02:51 PM
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Amen, Dukey.
Carrybean is offline  
Nov 5th, 2006, 03:45 PM
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That's very true, Dukey. I am inclined to believe these abusive agents are really on a huge power trip.
francophile03 is offline  
Nov 7th, 2006, 04:00 AM
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I still think we are being a bit western centric about this. 4 years ago trying to leave Goa I watched the local army stamp their way through my passport (4 men one stamp) after a 3 hour queue in the heat followed by a personal interview where it was suggested i left my sunglasses with the nice man so i could leave the country.

Similarly I went through Munich after the London bombings with a Pakistani colleague who went into the queue with me but came out 15 minutes behind me. His crime he had a Mecca stamp in his passport.

So basically we have stressed people and the occasional SOB
bilboburgler is online now  
Nov 7th, 2006, 05:57 AM
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I've travelled to Europe many times via the black hole that is Heathrow,and it can be grim.

But I think Charles de Gaulle has the rudest and the most disinterested staff I've ever encountered. (All 6 visits have been unpleasant!)

I love Paris, Parisians and France, hence I continue to visit, but I suspect most of the staff at CdG have had special nastiness training.......it was so bad last month that even the French Gendarme on duty had cause to chastise one of the airport staff for her lousy manner!
Libretto is offline  
Nov 12th, 2006, 03:15 AM
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"Acting like an SOB or a piece of snot does NOT make anybody more efficient in "keeping people out." "

Maybe, maybe not. But why subscribe to beliefs that in the main lead to disappointment and frustration? If one puzzles over people, wonders what makes them tick, one has less time to worry over whether they are 'dissing' one, which, after all, really doesn't lead in most cases to any practical consequences.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Nov 12th, 2006, 04:23 AM
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I have never exeperienced any rude beahavior at LHR.

However, I think MIA, the worst. One of the security staff threatened to punch my DH. We were just trying to find our terminal (the AA ticket counter told us the wrong gate, etc) We always have terrible experiences flying through that airport and it is mostly because the airport staff is just nasty.
MIM04 is offline  

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