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It's always unpredictable: Recent security experience in CDG

It's always unpredictable: Recent security experience in CDG

Aug 10th, 2010, 06:54 AM
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It's always unpredictable: Recent security experience in CDG

Not long ago, we had a discussion about where to put documents when going through security in Europe. I think there was some sort of consensus that each security area differs slightly, and that rules seem to change, too, depending on country, person, and heck, lunar cycle. I'm going to share our recent CDG Paris security.

Right before we get to check-in, there is a bomb scare from someone's leaving a carry-on in the area. They block off the United check-in area for around 30 minutes while they destroy the carry-on (the poor girl who finally realized it was hers is out of a passport, money, and cards--plus is taken away to be questioned by police).

When the roped off area is opened, there is a mad rush. We print out boarding passes at a kiosk, but no one seems to be around there to ask the usual "who packed your luggage" questions or to place those little "stickies" on carry-ons. I ask a passing United what we are supposed to do. She says, "Do you have your boarding pass?" I nod yes. She says in a tone indicating we are total idiots to just go to the gate. I open my mouth to say, "What about our stickies?" but she hurries off.

On our way up the moving ramp to the departure gate, our boarding passes/passports are checked by CDG. No one says anything about any missing "stickies".

Right before the gate, our carry-ons, etc are screened. The agent at the pre X-ray area looks at my passport and my boarding pass. No missing "stickies" question.

As I have said before, I always wait until my tray stuff goes through the machine before I step onto the other side. As often happens, the person motioning people through the detector becomes impatient, but I just smile (as always) as though I am harmlessly and pleasantly mentally deficient, and keep my eye on my belongings. Good thing I do. The pre X-ray agent has placed my passport/boarding pass into the tray of the gentleman in front of me and then places the person's documents after me into MY tray. I get it straightened out, although the X-ray person isn't happy. The other passengers are pretty grateful, though.

So two of us get through the screening fine. My husband, though, almost misses the plane because he gets pulled aside because the X-ray people see his blow-up hangar hooks on the screen and can't figure out what they are.

Unfortunately, he has to wait to have his luggage searched because of two idiots ahead of him at the searching area who have packed oodles of jam inside their luggage and who refuse to take "No, you are not allowed to take this on the plane" for an answer because they do not consider jam to be a liquid or a gel. One keeps saying, "I'm an American and..." And the security people never tell my husband what they are looking for when they finally get to his luggage, probably because they have forgotten what they are looking for by that point. And yes, they finally allow my husband to keep the blow-up hangers with hooks and all.

In the meantime, my daughter and I are boarding the plane, and the gate agent notices the missing security "stickies". So we are escorted to another desk, where we wait in line and are interrogated as to how we got through the system (and my question certainly still is, "How DID we get that far?"). Our answers satisfy them, and we get our stickies and we board.

My husband finally gets to the gate agent and no one notices he doesn't have his "stickies". He does make the plane departure barely on time.

Lessons to all:
1) As we have always told people: "Getting through the system at CDG will always be longer than you think."
2) No matter how often you travel, your security experience will always be different.
3) Don't expect security people or heck anyone in charge to know everything
4) Always remain pleasant, but keep your eyes on your belongings at all times and don't allow security to keep you from exercising common sense.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 07:14 AM
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I'm not really sure, but I think these "pre check-in" interviews on "who packed your luggage" and the "stickies" is something I know only from US airlines. At my airport, I see those mobile desks with staff who seems to ask passengers questions before they can proceed a few feet further to drop off their luggage only at check-in areas for US airlines.

The x-ray people or passport control have nothing to do with this policy. Unless you have a dedicated pier for flights to the US and for US airlines only, travellers in front or behind you may as well go to Mauritius or Tokio on "no stickies" airlines.

When I flew Lufthansa to NYC from my home airport of Munich in June there was no "stickies" or other stuff. I simply dropped off my luggage at the self-serve kiosk, proceeded thru general security, passport control, and secondary security which only applies for flights to the US. Total time from airport entrance to gate: around 15 or 20 minutes.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 07:39 AM
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Re: the stickies...on my Virgin flight from London to O'Hare a few weeks ago I received the pre check in interview and stickies. On the way back to London this past Sunday, absolutely nothing.
lizziea06 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 07:45 AM
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"4) .... but keep your eyes on your belongings at all times...

Amen. "Security" at CDG stole two our cameras (subsequently returned) from us on Christmas Day. As the late Paul Harvey might have said, I would love to know "The Rest Of The Story."


maitaitom is online now  
Aug 10th, 2010, 07:52 AM
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Sticky? I haven't had a sticky at CDG, AMS, or LHR in a half dozen flights in the past few years.

It is comforting to see that security does actually blow up unattended bags. There should be a minimum IQ test for airline passengers.

The pre X-ray agent has placed my passport/boarding pass into the tray of the gentleman in front of me.
Yikes! I hold on to my documents. They don't need to be x-rayed.
spaarne is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 08:05 AM
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spaarne: Funny you should say mention about "they don't need to be x-rayed." This trip was the ONLY one we can recall where the agent INSISTED on keeping both the boarding pass and passport and putting them through the machine. We fly a lot internationally, and we go through CDG a lot, so it was strange. I heard a guy several persons back in line questioning that and he was told, "It's the law!". Since when? But someone on this board had mentioned the agent doing the same thing recently. I thought it was just an anomaly when I read it.

Cowboy1968: Oh, I'm VERY sure the pre-check interviews are US flights. The x-ray people at that specific gate, however, are directly working under US flight rules (toiletries issues, etc), so...

...see Lesson 2: 2) No matter how often you travel, your security experience will always be different.

And as you may note: my incident report is about CDG. When we flew to Madrid and back from Granada to Madrid just this past spring, everything was pretty chill.

US domestic security points differ greatly too. Denver security is pretty big on taking that quart bag of toiletries out of the suitcase, and they are stringent about sizes. I just flew through two other domestic airports that really don't make such an issue of it.

I am not critical of any airport security that DOES make an issue of it; my point is that every place differs just a bit. For the most part, it doesn't matter. I take out my toiletries no matter what and take off my shoes no matter what. I even have separate ziplock bag for Kindle and cell, although checkpoints don't seem to care about that stuff.

Sometimes laxity, though, is quite disconcerting.

Two or three years ago I had flown through many airports--both domestic and international--in a three-week period before a screener noticed a small pair of scissors in a pocket in my backpack. I certainly did not intend for them to be there. I had previously taken the backpack months before on a long driving trip and done some clothes repairs in the backseat while the husband and daughters took turns at the wheel. The scissors were pretty tiny, and when I packed for this trip, I never realized I had left them in there.

When the guy said, "Hey, you have scissors in there!" I was astounded and asked to look at the screen (he was a nice guy). And then I said, "How could I have flown all these places? It's so obvious they are in there!" He nodded, saying, "I have people telling me the same thing every day. Either I am REALLY good at my job or other people doing it don't have clue."
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 08:13 AM
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The stickies surprised me at Zurich airport.
Before checking inn a lady takes our passports and screened them at a little counter and proceed to ask "Has anybody packed your luggage besides you", "Has anybody given you anything to carry for them", "Who else bought what you are carrying" etc. And proceed to put little red stickers on each handle of our 4 bags.

We went through check inn and before she checks our bags she decides we have to carry one of our backpacks as a carry on in the plane and asks me to remove the security sticker from the bag and send us our way to the Gate.

In Security the Backpack passed about 3 times by Xrays because they saw something they were not sure what it was, but as it was too packed they let us go to the gate, plane very close to departure.
We finally get to the gate and there is the same lady who had asked the questions before putting the stickers again asking the same damn questions she had asked before. We were the last to board so some Official tells me 5 mins more and we were left there.

Finally when we got to our Hotel in Dallas to spend the night before flying to Denver Saturday, my son says "You know what? what they kept trying to find out what it was with the XRay machine was my brand new Swiss Knife I got in Interlaken, I can't believe it passed", tata..
pookymimi is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 08:30 AM
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I'm looking forward to the report from someone who says "I breezed through CDG security in about 10 minutes, no delays, competent staff, fast process, no problems."

And then there will be a massive snowball fight in Hell.
BigRuss is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 08:41 AM
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Yep, BigRuss, I'm laughing--you're right. The Perfect Travelers haven't chimed in yet.

As you know, it's always our own fault if one of us has been a)robbed b)stopped c)delayed d)required to have "stickies" e)questioned and f)had luggage lost in Guam for eight weeks because as we know, nothing bad has EVER happened nor will it EVER happen to the Perfect Travelers
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 08:44 AM
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pookymini: The Swiss knife story is a classic!
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 08:44 AM
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I don't even know what 'stickies' are. I usually go through Toulouse or Frankfurt, who don't seem to use them, whatever they are. Hand luggage goes through security with me, and that's the end of it.
Carlux is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 09:03 AM
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well, I breezed through CDG security in about 10 min, no hassles, no problems at the end of July (CDG to IAD). I don't know what the issues are, I had nothing unusual in my carryon nor my purse. I think these problems are often self-induced.
Christina is online now  
Aug 10th, 2010, 09:05 AM
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And most of all - don;t leavey your carry-on sitting alone anywhere - even in the rest rooms (take it into the stall) or youmay find it blown up and yourself being questioned.

(A couple of months ago I saw a carry-on that didn;t seem to belong to anyone and told security. They came and took it away. About 20 minutes later a woman comes asking is anyone has seen her bag - and I told her what happened. And she was highly indignant. I never saw her again - perhaps security questioning made her miss the flight.)
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 09:06 AM
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There you go BR and AZ: Right on cue, Christina's flipped it onto the plate.
sap is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 09:09 AM
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SAP: Belly chuckle here. Thank you for saying it first!
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 09:55 AM
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I did not mean to say that you did something wrong with the stickers. But those stickers are not mandatory for flights to the US originating in the EU.
I assume that you travelled with Delta, AA, or any other airline under American flag. If you had by chance travelled with a non-US carrier, there would have been no (or not necessarily) "stickers" (and less hassle).

But why security wanted the passports to go thru the x-ray machines will probably remain the staff's mystery.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 11:51 AM
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Not long after 9/11, my husband and I were traveling to Europe. At our departing airport (LAX), both of us were pulled aside for inspection of our luggage contents. I have no idea whether the x-ray screener saw something or we were just randomly chosen. Anyhoo, my bag was opened, and I was questioned about several items in containers/bags. When I mentioned that one bag held my 'female sanitary supplies,' it was as though I had said 'cooties.' The male inspector was suddenly no longer interested in what was in my luggage, and he quickly sent me on my way. Meanwhile, at another table, my husband's bag was opened. The female inspector took one look at my husband's impeccably ironed, folded and packed clothing (he can be a bit anal) and remarked that it was 'too pretty to disturb.' Memo to terrorists: put the tampons and pantiliners on top of the very neatly wrapped bomb.

I'm feeling slighted about the stickies. We've never been given any. Is it a CDG/French thing?
Jean is online now  
Aug 10th, 2010, 11:54 AM
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I'm feeling slighted about the stickies. We've never been given any. Is it a CDG/French thing?

No, I also got them in Zurich.
pookymimi is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 12:35 PM
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We were given stickies on our outbound flight, Air France Miami to CDG, because I asked for them!
At CDG for our inbound flight to Miami, we breezed through security, no stickies, and waited for almost 3 hours to board our flight. This was certainly a first for us. Left lots of time for duty free shopping. This was at the end of July.
dorie is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 12:37 PM
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Christina--So it's a "self-imposed" boo-boo that I flew on UNITED??? I'll be sure to write them.

Or perhaps it's my fault that we "chose" the day to fly when the poor girl forgot her carry-on and shut down the entire United area.

And I think my quote was "getting through the CDG "system." Sorry, Christina, 10 minutes may easily get you through gate security (just the pre-gate x-ray area) on a slow day. I've been there, done that (although youngest daughter has not had same luck. See below). 10 minutes will not get you from in-the-door at CDG to ramp check to passport check to gate security to boarding pass check.

Notice that I did not even count the time for the boarding pass kiosk--although I tried my best, I was not allowed on this flight to print my boarding passes before arrival at the airport because they required us to check in with a gate agent, even though we had no luggage.

Our line alone at the gate check was 30 minutes (see SHUT-DOWN United area for reason why).

Jean--Good story. Have to tell you that we were totally surprised husband got pulled for the luggage search. All of our family members have blow-up hangers with hooks, which actually do not have sharp ends. In at least 30 trips to Europe and 100? trips through US, never a problem before.

Why were we surprised he was the one pulled? Because usually at CDG, and ONLY at CDG, just as YOUNGEST child has passed the final boarding pass/passport check, about to enter plane, she is pulled for not only baggage check but full body scan. This is the kid with a face like an angel (we have suggested she grow a full beard). She doesn't even bother to wear a belt or earrings anymore because she just knows they are going to tackle her there. On this trip, they decided to pounce on the husband, but for luggage only.

This time, she actually got to walk onto the plane.

In a way, I think she was disappointed.
AlessandraZoe is offline  

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