Security Theatre and the Airport

I've previously ranted about "security theatre" that we all suffer every time we fly anywhere so imagine my surprise that I write this airside at a major airport holding a bag that's not been X-rayed... how did I get here?

That this is even possible, even as an exception, would seem to support that the hassle we go through at the airport is largely pointless.

How did I get here?

At security I followed the usual requirements like a good sheep (remove my laptop, iPad, don’t have any liquids etc etc) and yet my bag still ends up in the queue to be searched manually.

Due to understaffing, it was almost 20 minutes before they got to my tray, brought it over to go through with me, and scanned the barcode on the tray to retrieve the image that had been captured.

At this point I was told that there was nothing “wrong” but that it had failed to be imaged, and had to be re-screened. Now, you would think this could perhaps trigger a different type of error and prompt the operator to rescan it at the time, but apparently not, it just gets stuck in the queue with all the bags containing 'suspicious items'

Given the huge queues, and other delays the security agent instead said he’d “just swab it instead” and handed me it back when the swab was clear.

The swab test is looking for drugs or explosive residue. It would not detect other prohibited items. Like, for instance, the can of Pepsi the unfortunate passenger next to me had in her bag that she’d forgotten about. The way she was barked at by the staff you’d think they’d found 300g of C4, not 330ml of Pepsi!!

Now, it’d be exceptionally difficult to orchestrate this situation for nefarious purposes, of course. And I wasn’t carrying anything I shouldn’t be!

But still, I ended up on a plane without having my bag X-rayed, at the same airport which previously argued with me that solid stick deodorants were a ‘liquid’ and that - although the CAA say otherwise

Liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) are all liquid items for aviation security purposes. This includes all drinks, toiletry and cosmetic items such as shampoo and shower gel, toothpaste, liquid/aerosol deodorant, hairspray, hair gel, mascara and foundation cream. It does not include solid deodorant sticks and solid bars of soap.

This airport takes it upon themselves to "improve" on this standard, and was willing to argue that they didn't need to follow the CAA rules and that they were a "minimum" - in reality it looks more like they just don't know the rules at all, and think they're better than the CAA.

Inconsistencies like this make a mockery of the system. I’ll always love flying, but I hate airports.

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