The Conditioning of the US Flyer - Shoes

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in Other Countries' started by exbayern, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. exbayern

    exbayern Original Member

    I had the pleasure of flying from my favourite small French airport yesterday. When I arrived at security the queue appeared to be longer than the usual mid-week peak business travel wait time of 5 minutes, so I sat down with a coffee and pain au chocolat to see if I could determine why.

    Even though season is over, there was a conference in the area, and there appeared to be a lot of travellers over and above the mid-week FRA/LHR/MUC/ZRH connection crowd.

    When I did join the 'long' queue (wait time, 10 minutes), I realised why the queue was so long. There were a lot of people removing their shoes at the checkpoint, even though the screeners told them in English several times not to remove their shoes, and even though the screening video shows the traveller wearing shoes. At my connecting airport, the same thing happened (and I have been speaking about this for some time online as it is especially noticeable in high season around Europe).

    While it may be annoying to have the queues be lengthened due to the time it takes to play the shoe carnival, I believe that the greater issue is that so many travellers used to TSA do not realise or do not understand that what they now treat as 'normal' is considered 'abnormal' elsewhere, and even when it is pointed out to them, they don't seem to want to change their behaviour.

    In fact, many times I have read or overheard how 'bad' security is outside the US because other countries don't practice the shoe carnival, or use scanners as primary. I'm glad to see that there is some easing of the shoe game in the US (for children), but this to me in indicative of the greater problem we face here trying to help people to understand the real issue about security theatre.
  2. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    Poor sad Americans. Lemmings, every one of them.
    Fisher1949 and Lisa Simeone like this.
  3. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Just tell us how high to jump and when to bend over.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  4. exbayern

    exbayern Original Member

    Well, we've been there, done that, (on a much, much larger scale) so it isn't unique to Americans! But it really does show how easy it is to condition people to something and even if they no longer have to do it, they continue to do it.
  5. rockon

    rockon Original Member

    It's painfully funny/sad/scary.

    It's as though by going farther than everyone else, we're proving that we are true patriots. We take off our shoes because we have nothing to hide, we are so completely above suspicion and innocent that we go out of our way to prove it - even when it's a charade at best and an inconvenience at worst.

    I talked to an older couple about this in CDG (they were ahead of me in line, struggled). He told me "We know they don't bother about things like that over here. It's why the crime rates are so high over here - all these immigrants and lax security. We take our shoes off. It's a nuisance, we don't like it, but it's better to be safe than sorry."

    Nice people, but I felt like saying "??? So you are surrounded by suspicious types who are clearing security without removing their shoes, something you consider a risky practice, so to compensate and play it safe, you take your shoes off?"

    (need a head-shaking smiley)
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  6. exbayern

    exbayern Original Member

    Well, shall I share the rest of my 'bad' security experience from yesterday? They realised that the queue was 'long' at 10 minutes, and started calling people up to jump the queue for the MUC flight. (I was not on that flight)

    When I got to the checkpoint, the screener apologised in French for delaying me. She then took my boarding pass and said 'Oh, you're NOT flying to MUC today!' and I said no, and that it wasn't her fault for any delay.

    I passed through the WTMD, collected my items, and walked past the stand containing comment cards and encouraging passengers to provide feedback on their experience.

    At the Schengen exit control area, the policeman greeted me, looked at my boarding pass, and didn't even open my passport but said 'see you in a few weeks, have a good flight'. :eek: Imagine, a small airport where they know regulars, and they didn't check my passport this week to see if I am really who I have claimed to be all these past months. (I don't know if he is the same one who stood by at the ticket counter a few weeks ago because he was ready to help me pass through security quickly in order to get on my flight during an emergency - and he volunteered to do that)

    After that, I went to the bathroom and actually used toilet paper to wipe! Yes, people, despite what idiots on the interweb think, we do use toilet paper here!! You don't need to go buy some at the camping store before you come visit us, you know... (Apologies for the sarcam but this officially my 'I'm sick of stupid people on the internet week'. Someone actually did that, because you know, France is such a backwards corner of the world. There are not enough eye-rolling smilies for me to express what I think of that)

    rockon, a few weeks ago I was going to offer up the two men in front of me at the checkpoint at LHR for the backscatter. They too were going on about how security is 'so bad' in 'Europe' because we don't use the scanners on everyone. The machine was just being warmed up for the day (and it is quite a ways beyond the checkpoint) but I was almost ready to suggest they pay it a visit.
    Lisa Simeone and rockon like this.
  7. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Some of us who were in Europe ~50 years ago (Norway, specifically) remember rolls of something more akin to coarse paper towels that were used for that purpose.
  8. rockon

    rockon Original Member

    I think some of it ended up in Tanzania. Honestly, that stuff had slivers and chips of wood in it - looked like chipboard. No perforations and it stretched like crepe paper.

    I brought back a roll because I knew everyone at home would think I was exaggerating!
  9. exbayern

    exbayern Original Member

    We've progressed to stall doors which don't have wide gaps, self-cleaning toilets, Dyson high speed hand dryers, and cushy yet environmentally acceptable TP. Of course, squat toilets are still found every now and again too especially in southern and eastern areas, but we like to offer diversity (as well as the opportunity to combine a physical workout with relieving oneself) :p
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  10. rockon

    rockon Original Member

    Squat toilets = great quad workout.

    Now if only I could remember to take my T-paper out of my pocket before I assume the position instead of when I'm ready to use it....:oops:
  11. DeafBlonde

    DeafBlonde Original Member

    Ok, here's the deal: I'm 56 years old, so I don't "hover" as easily as I used to. :oops: I'm not going anywhere that doesn't have clean toilet seats, or at least seat protectors. Squatting? Forget it!
  12. rockon

    rockon Original Member

    Yeah, I think it's definitely easier if you've been doing it all your life and have developed and maintained the muscles and flexibility to get up and down.

    If it's really nasty, sometimes I prefer to squat. I find it easier to 'rest' in a squat position than I do to maintain a 'hover' position.

    BTW, I agree with exBayern, I don't mind paying a small amount to an attendant who washes the stalls down between users.
  13. exbayern

    exbayern Original Member

    That's the beauty of the 'pay to pee' system. Usually that involves an automatic seat cleaner, or a human cleaning between uses. (Some of the German ones are very aggressive and take their job very seriously and physically bar you from entering until they have had the time to wipe the seat and check the TP stock in the stall!)

    I've seen some very nasty toilet seats at Target, or Walt Disney World, for instance. I'll take the 'pay to pee' system even if Sanifair did raise some of their prices recently from 0,50 to 0,70 (and at Sanifair stations you get to keep the coupon to redeem for the same amount off purchase after you pee)

    Squat toilets (and 'no seat' toilets) are actually considered more hygenic than western toilet seats by many people. Somewhere there is a message board with people talking about how 'dirty' we are for having seats on toilets. :p

    And the good news is that often there is mixed use toilets - squat and 'western' in tourist areas. Just be sure to check first. And back to the thread topic - if you ARE using a squat toilet, watch those shoes! :oops:
  14. rockon

    rockon Original Member

    (bolding mine) I would hope a toilet is 'mixed' use! :D
  15. DeafBlonde

    DeafBlonde Original Member

    My knees will not let me do either. I guess I will be a "sitter" for the rest of my life and not a "squatter." Of course in cattle country (Texas) "squatters" are looked down upon! :D
  16. exbayern

    exbayern Original Member

    Since starting this thread, I have been on a mission to determine the policy on shoe removal in France, as it isn't required on non-US bound flights.

    The outcome has been that shoe removal is NOT a requirement for US-bound flights, as confirmed numerous times to me by various personnel at various times, and by my own experiences. Why then do I see Americans constantly removing their shoes at CDG, and why then do I read on other websites that shoe removal is mandatory on US-bound/US-operated flights from CDG?

    Please feel free to provide your own answer. Mine is along the lines of 'people are idiots'.

    On my last US-bound/US-operated flight, I arrived at security at the gate area and peformed my usual 'rest of world' security preparations (remove coat, scarf, place laptops in bins, place plastic bags in bins). With only 2-3 people ahead of me, I couldn't figure out what was taking so long, and why the line was building behind me.

    Then I saw it. Several people in crew uniform removed their shoes, and replaced them with blue paper booties. After they had done this, they then turned around and called out to the remainder of the queue that they had to remove their shoes.


    I of course had to question this, so I addressed the screener in French.

    ME: is shoe removal required here? I never remove my shoes in France
    Screener: no Madame, shoe removal is not required. One may be required to remove certain shoes if they set off the machine, but generally one does NOT need to remove ones shoes at the checkpoint.
    ME: As I thought. So, why are all these people removing their shoes?
    Screener: Well, this is a gate with flights to America, and in America shoe removal is compulsory.
    ME: Yes, but we are in FRANCE, not in America, and we just agreed that shoe removal is not required in FRANCE.
    Screener: Yes, but these people.....
    ME: are crazy?

    I am moving beyond sad now to be disgusted. Not only are people sheep, but they are encouraging others to be sheep. And I even had two of them point out to me that I was still wearing my shoes as I was about to go through the WTMD. Oh, the horrors. I kept my shoes on my feet, and no planes fell out of the sky.

    (And if anyone has an issue with this post, let me say not 'BAAAH' but 'MOOO' if that makes you feel better)

    :D I will admit that I feel better now for getting that off my chest, and for being able to confirm that just like in Germany, shoe removal is not a requirement.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  17. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    So cordial, which is so lacking here.

    It's not just the procedures but the people & lack of 'tude that make such a difference. CDG is one of aviation's biggest zoos, but security at CDC has always been polite & efficient for us.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  18. exbayern

    exbayern Original Member

    I like to think of T1 as a gerbil maze :)

    Oddly enough, the FA came to me on the flight and said 'I saw that you had a problem at security'. Er, no, I had no problems at all.

    She had problems; she was one of the shoe removers.
  19. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    I found it astounding that crew members were removing their shoes. Perhaps their airlines tell them to do so as part of the conditioning program?
  20. exbayern

    exbayern Original Member

    It was at least two different crews; there were 3 US bound flights leaving around the same time from those gates. If they want to be stupid, that is one thing, but telling others to join in the idiocy is something else!
    Lisa Simeone likes this.

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