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Substandard Security at London Gatwick???

Substandard Security at London Gatwick???

Mar 8th, 2004, 10:19 AM
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Substandard Security at London Gatwick???

My colleague just returned from London yesterday and he said he was shocked at the total lack of security at Gatwick.
He said it really worried him.
They did not check his laptop, his bags and he did not have to remove his big black shoes.
I travel there with my daughter in a few months.
Has anyone had similar experiences?
Is Heathrow safer?
In the current environment why in the world would they be so lax?
TxTravelPro is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 10:30 AM
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If it hadn't been for that deranged individual who actually had wires sticking out of his shoes you probably woulnd't be removing either "big black" or "little brown" shoes to this day. And if you think that by opening a laptop computer and even turning it on, and ditto for cell phones, this action "proves" that they aren't some sort of explosive device or don't contain such I'm afraid you are in for a rude awakening.
Did you ask your collegaue whether or not he made any mention of these supposed "se4curity lapses" or was he content to just buzz right through very smugly and then regale people like you with the "horror stories" later?
Airport security is, in many people's opinion, still very "lax" so I suggest you spend your time worrying about something you can actually DO somrthing about.
Mar 8th, 2004, 11:03 AM
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TxTravelPro, I just got back from London on March 3rd, and flew out of Gatwick. I did not find security lax...in fact it seemed more secure than most airports in the U.S. We had to go through a security screening twice before boarding the plane (once at the gate, once getting into the international area), and they looked at my shoes, my bags, my camera, etc....
suzski is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 11:08 AM
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I assume your colleague was flying home when he encountered the security procedure. If he was flying within Europe, security measures are not as strict.
bob_brown is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 11:08 AM
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I travel every week in the US and do not find the security to be lax at most airports I visit.
Everyone I work with works in the travel industry. We travel a lot... generally in the US.
I see some gaps in security, especially regarding the people loading food on the plane and the unchecked contents of bulk cargo.
This colleague is not one to complain... or even mention travel related experiences. It's an everyday occurance around here, no big deal.
However, he felt the security was substandard, similar to Central America or African nations.
I typically do not worry about such things but I will have my child with me on this trip. If you are not a parent you probably will not understand.
And there is certainly no reason for you to be so defensive. What's up with that? Are you a security guard at Gatwick?

TxTravelPro is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 11:12 AM
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Thanks Suz and Bob!
Other experiences was what I was looking for, not a condescending lecture.
Possibly they profile in Europe?
Is profiling "allowed"?
It is an ugly word here in the US.
TxTravelPro is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 11:17 AM
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As l'm sure your probably aware - due to the current climate security has been increased dramatically around the world. Not least has security been increased at airports.

Heathrow is seen as the main target by any terrorist groups, however, smaller more private airports are also believed to be targets.

The UK's security services have been aware of many threats, and it is believed they are receiving them almost daily. The Chief of the Metropolitan Police, the force that controls the security of Heathrow, has said that they have prevented a number of attacks.

I can assure you that these people have specific threats, and they know who is most likely to be a terrorist. Just because you were wearing big shoes and carrying a laptop doesn't automatically make you a security risk.

These people have a list of possible flights that will be targets - and they will deal with these flights and check everyone with a maginifying glass. All other flights will be the very highest of security but not checked with this magnifying glass.

The UK has been prepared for terrorist attacks from the IRA for many years - the Al Quaeda threat has just made it more publicised globally. As for America, they are new to it all, and are probably treating it a bit OTT.

Only my opinion though...
Glyn_Williams is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 11:51 AM
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I go through Gatwick about twice a month, and your colleague's experience doesn't reflect mine at all. The only thing that I haven't had to endure in teh last 12 months is a body search. Thank God!
sheila is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 12:00 PM
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I travel weekly. That in NO WAY qualifies me to determine if security is "substandard". Somehow with the same travel amounts you feel like you are qualified to see "gaps" in security. I see nothing in what your colleague said that would worry me.

I very rarely get asked to take my shoes off and I tend to wear a pair for fairly substantial rubber soled shoed. (They don't set off the alarm since there is no metal!) Normally the "shoe" issue only arises at "orange" or above.

I am not sure what you mean by "did not check his laptop or bags" If they went thru the scanner they were checked. Normally nothing else happens. Once in 10 times my laptop is checked for explosvives.

If you are worried. Stay home.
CarolA is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 12:03 PM
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That makes me feel much better. I suppose it was just a quirky thing. Maybe they just shoo'd him through for some reason.
TxTravelPro is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 12:11 PM
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It's fruitless worrying about lack of airport security, if you have to travel through there you have no other option. Unless of course you decide to stay at home, then what's the fun in that?

Furthermore, if someone is so intent, (to coin President Bush's phrase) as "these folks" are, on executing such sickening crimes, no security, short of a full body search of each passenger and their luggage, both hold and hand, will serve to make things any safer.
m_kingdom is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 12:29 PM
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I have to agree with JonJon and m_kingdom, in content if not in tone. Turning on laptops, while showing all the signs of activity, really don't prove they don't contain explosives. In fact, a working laptop with creatively written timer program running would probably make a reasonably good trigger. When I turn mine on at checkpoints, the people there seem satisfied that it powers up, which proves nothing really.

m_kingdom, I'm usually not a grammar monitor (as one could determine by simply reading some of my posts). But I did want to say that you can't coin a phrase while also quoting the phrase. "To coin a phrase" means you are inventing the phrase. In this case, I don't believe even GWB coined that one.

Clifton is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 02:26 PM
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Hi Tx,

Did your colleague notice all of the plainclothes security people who were watching him?

Yes, they do 'profile'.

Not too long ago, I set my bag down at LGW and went to get a coffee. When I came back it was gone.

Well, I was shocked that my bag would be stolen in England.

I went to the information desk to report this awful occurence.

A very large policeman politely lectured me on the security implications of unattended luggage.
ira is online now  
Mar 8th, 2004, 02:28 PM
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Forgot to mention, I and my bag had been under surveillance from the moment I walked away.
ira is online now  
Mar 8th, 2004, 02:48 PM
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The UK revamped security in its international airports in the wake of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, and has been working to fine-tune it on an ongoing basis since the attacks in the US in September 2001.

However, you won?t routinely be asked to take your shoes or other non-outerwear clothing off, or to pass electronic devices (like a laptop) through the security apparatus separately as there is normally no need for this ? the high-tech baggage-scanning and equipment is supposed to be able to accurately identify potential security threats without these extra precautions. (Reportedly, the technology?s similar to that used for medical x-rays.) And of course, people and baggage are still searched manually when necessary.

UK airport security in general is actually often cited as among the best available - although as others have said, the effectiveness of any kind of automated security is limited. Link below with some more information if you?re interested:

Kasja is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 02:49 PM
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The thing about security in the UK is that they have been at it a LOT longer than the TSA here in the States. Since the heavy terrorist threats in the UK started way back in the 70's they have been much more security concious than what we were used to in the USA. Not just in airports but also in tube and rail stations. I always used to tell my friends how much more thorough airport security was at LHR and LGW. Of course 9/11 changed all that and we now have all these new rules, etc. Don't worry - they have had a lot more practice at this and do a good job.
janis is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 02:53 PM
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I've been through Gatwick a couple of times within the past month and I didn't find the security to be notably different from other airports I've traveled through. I certainly didn't regard it as lax.
Flyboy is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 04:14 PM
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Just another word of reassurance. I have gone thru Gatwick numerous times. It is vey safe. U.K. security has been at it a very long time. The security people are very polite and do a thorough job.

SandyBrit is offline  

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