Observations About UK Airport Screeners (at LHR)

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by nachtnebel, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    Exbayern provided me with advance recon about LHR, which proved to be mainly accurate, as it was far less intrusive than TSA. I was at terminal 3, where they use WTMD exclusively. According to Exbayern, they have scanners for secondary searches, but I didn't see them. For men, it was pretty much like pre Black October 2010, you put belts, carryons, jackets in the buckets, but of course, not being the USA, no shoes had to be removed.

    For the women, the machines were set to such a low thresholds that they invariably alarmed, my guess is probably the wire in the brassieres. Unlike rational countries like New Zealand, which resolved this by hand wand only, each woman who alarmed was taken just next to the WTMD so it could continue being used (several carry-on scanning queues fed into a single WTMD).

    Then the usual breast area check, just like TSA does it, gotta make sure everything is real, no boob bombs. But because they don't bother hand wanding, the idiots then check everything else, arms, back, waist, running fingers around the belt but doing absolutely no swab tests. They use front of hands but don't have the person turn around to check their backs, the clerk simply reaches around the person being searched as if embracing them to feel their back and their butts with the front of the hands. It really is obscene looking, like they are having a make-out session. Only marginally better than the rubbing TSA does. (yes, same sex searches only). Then the usual up the leg check, but not going as far as the TSA does, no touching of private parts although they do feel alongside the front of sensitive areas (a few inches outside the zipper), basically like the old frisk used to do.

    Nearly every woman I saw there had to endure this. There was only one female clerk there, so when she was occupied, the TMD gatekeeper told other arriving women to stay put: "gents only please". This struck me as quite stupid on the part of the Brits. You know why most of these alarms occur, why not at least hand wand to determine location. then a light check just in that area to see if there's anything untoward. Or better yet, do as the New Zealanders do, confirm location and let 'em through. It's almost as if they're using this as an excuse to feel over all the women, but from the look of the female screener, not a desired activity. She looked very embarrassed. The Brits get very low marks by the way they handle such an expected and common occurrance. My guess is that the TSA is putting them up to this.

    I had to laugh at the secondaries at the gate for my flight. My airline had two lines going into the gate, the upper class/premium line where I went in, and the economy line where the bulk of the people were. Inside the gate was a table with a clerkette, and a clerk with a turban staring intently at the ECONOMY LINE ONLY (evidently terrorists don't fly upper class, or more precisely, in a class-driven society like Britain, that simply wouldn't do). He would make a selection, then the winner would come in, dump the contents of his carryon where the clerkette inspected it whilst the victim was felt over. Usual arm feel over, chest butt and back feel over, but not quite as offensively as TSA does it. Fingers along the waist band but no swabbing. I guess that part of the theater always ended badly, so they don't do it. Hands up the legs but not as far as TSA, doesn't get near the crown jewels, front crotch a few inches from the zipper alongside it, the old frisk style.

    So there you have it. Use of WTMD good, use of stupid protocols to resolve common women's clothing, bad. Fly upper class or economy premium and perhaps bypass the gate check.
  2. I wonder what would happen if a daring woman pulled a Flashdance and, upon arrival at the WTMD, took her bra off through her sleeve and put it on the x-ray belt.
  3. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    There's a commercial - I don't know for what product/service - that I've seen several times that shows a brief segment of a supposed screener, male, with his arms around another man from the back. It's really repulsive and I've wondered why they chose to show a supposed TSA search being done like that. Now I know. Thanks, I guess
  4. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    seriously, if you were going to an airport like this, you could plan ahead, and go sans underwire or simply sans... easy for me to say. ample opportunities inside the checkpoint to get readjusted. But the simple truth is that the checkpoint protocols need to be fixed so UNIVERSALLY used and hard to remove clothing items do not cause these searches. It is a stupid process. the new zealanders were much faster at this simply using hand wands.
    phoebepontiac likes this.
  5. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    I will give credit to SFO Customs however, on this trip. People were generally more relaxed with them compared to my last trip, and they were pretty polite. The agent I spoke with said "welcome back" and wished me a good day, that was the extent of it. In comparison, the London customs fellow was cranky and asked me "why are you here?" in an accusatory way. I had to restrain myself from commending him for his quite profound philosophical question, as much as I would have liked to.

    TSA authorizes certain suitcase locks. Mine have a tsa number on them in fact. Could not TSA work with bra manufacturers to come up with an acceptable wire or wire mass to get through their machines? Perhaps their approval logo could be two blue gloved hands.
  6. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    Why should a TSA-approved bra be designed? Most women wear bras and most of those bras have wire in them. TSA/LHR security need to learn to deal with it rather than humiliate female passengers.

    But I do like the blue-gloved hands idea. :D
  7. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    The wise adapt themselves to the world. The foolish adapt the world to themselves.

    Since TSA and its employees are anything but wise, it stands to reason that they would try to force "TSA-approved" undergarments upon the traveling public.
  8. Caradoc

    Caradoc Original Member

    You mean the ones they keep "misplacing" the keys for, and do nothing to prevent the TSA from stealing from your baggage?

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