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Flying used to be fun...

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Flying used to be fun...

Took SWMBO to Gatwick this morning. Hadn't been there for a couple of years. Is it me or is it seemingly more confusing as to where to go and what to than it ever was?
I know there are lots of building works but it seems to me that it is made purposely to be an awkard and unconfortable place to fly from now.
Also, when going through into Passport control you have to place your Boarding Card face down and wait for a green light then the gates open. SWMBO went through with no problem but I noticed many were shown a message to stand looking direct at a camera/scanner. This seemed to take a long time for some and even gave messages to open eyes wide. All these must look scared as they enter Undecided
I couldn't quite work out the logic of who needed scanning who didn't. It did seem that the majority of British-looking people went though without this extra ordeal. Is it based on type of passport held, nationality, destination, airline or some other criteria?
I am assuming that all UK international airports have this?
Edit: Sorry about the double posting - seems to be another issue with the board.
I got the usual timed out message, refreshed the page and reposted and, lo and behold, two copies. Could one be deleted, please?

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Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear - Mark Twain
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34 REPLIES
James
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Posts: 21,036
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: Flying used to be fun...

Dad has this - Some passports allow retinal scanning as a quicker way of going through security.
At least I think that's right!
Community Veteran
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Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: Flying used to be fun...

Gatwick is a bit of a mess at present but they are investing a lot of money to upgrade the airport and improve the passenger experience.  Time will tell if it works out for us.
As to the passport control not all airports have this facility.  I used it in September and I found it very efficient.  I think you are right in your comments about the type of person being asked undergo additional checks.  Profiling works well and saves a lot of us being delayed unnecessarily.
I also was impressed with the automated system for checking carry-on bags.  A big improvement on the old manual system.
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Re: Flying used to be fun...

I was a bit miffed about Check-in.
We used the online system last night and the airline's website clearly stated that to speed things up there was a handy drop-off point for hold luggage:
Quote
Once you have checked in Web, all you have to do before departure is to drop off your baggage at a baggage drop-off point or at the check-in desk, depending on the airport. In case you do not have any baggage to drop off, please proceed directly to the security control.

No such point existed and we had to queue up anyway. It does say 'Depending on the Airport' and we lived in hope. SWMBO got in a bad mood as she didn't have enough time to spend in the duty free shops.
I, on the other hand, was a happy bunny Tongue Grin

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Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear - Mark Twain
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Community Veteran
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Re: Flying used to be fun...

Every cloud has a silver lining I guess Mav Grin Grin
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Re: Flying used to be fun...

It sure does Wink

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Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear - Mark Twain
He who feared he would not succeed sat still

whelpton
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Posts: 104
Registered: 06-06-2011

Re: Flying used to be fun...

Sorry to detract from OT slightly here, I'm pretty sure we could all say the same thing about train travel as well. During the past few weeks I have been traveling around the country on train and have had nothing but constant ticket checking, reminders that my bags would be detonated if they left my grip for longer than three seconds and the inability to use public restrooms without a background credit check. All this and adding insult to injury by skyrocketing fares and crowded, smelly noisy and ageing commuter trains really makes me wonder why I never learned to drive.
Just my two pence into this topic, I refuse to travel by plane so my last memory of a airport was probably when I was six or seven.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: Flying used to be fun...

Picking up on Mav's original comment I have to agree about air travel.  Many years ago the flight was a part of a holiday and something to look forward to.  Now it's simply a mean to an end before you can  start the holiday Sad
x47c
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Registered: 14-08-2009

Re: Flying used to be fun...

I can remember when East midlands was a small airport
You turned up, gave the cabin staff your ticket in the waiting hall
After a bit of time a cabin crew would stand up on one of the seats and announce the flight and you'd all trek out to the plane on the tarmac on foot.
That was it - security checks - nah
Community Veteran
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Registered: 30-08-2007

Re: Flying used to be fun...

I was fine until the ruling classes let the hoi-poli on aircraft and ruined it all.
Having travelled a great deal in all three classes of cabin (I wasn't personally paying for the first-class occasions, and have been fortunate to be upgraded to club a few times...one of the advantages of working in an airport terminal nod, nod, wink, wink!!) I can assure you apart from the increase in leg room the experience is entirely over rated. On one occasion we had more screaming kids in first-class than the whole of the rest of the plane, which their parents took absolutely no notice of.
And, the much vaunted individual sleeping pods popular these days you can keep thanks. Give me a reclining seat any day.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
pierre_pierre
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Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Flying used to be fun...

Last year I flew from Stansted to Belfast International, with Easy Jet.  and that was the best part of the Trip, I would not recommend the people who did the rest of the trip to anybody, that dont know how to organise a coach journey if the tried, But the Hotel in Sligo was good
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Re: Flying used to be fun...

A couple of years before "9/11" we had a fly drive holiday in Montana USA. The local airport was at Billings, a small affair with just two bording gates. During the trip we bought an antique mantlepiece clock with a wind-up clockwork mechanism. It was quite big, so to avoid damage during transit I decided to carry the clock as carry-on luggage. On the return trip to the UK we passed through three USA airports and boarding checks with me holding this large clock in front of me. Not once did any of the officials query the clock or ask to look inside.
We live in different times.
Now Zen, but a +Net residue.
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Re: Flying used to be fun...

While "doing my time" in security in T4 Heathrow, we saw many dubious sights. One that always set the alarm bells ringing were the dummy hand grenades -sometimes cigarette lighters- that are/were available as "souvenirs" from tourist outlets in central London. On an X-ray screen these look very real indeed and bring down the full weight of the law. A lot would depend on the reaction of the carrier, if it was blindingly obvious the passenger thought it was a huge set-up joke, the bomb-squad, Special Branch, Firearms unit and Customs would be called.
After causing huge queues and hold up's and the gentle attentions of the aforementioned officers, their tune rapidly changed. And just to brighten their day even more, their airline would refuse to fly them (often for life) trying another flight would prove to be fruitless as it is one of the few occasions that competing airlines join together.  After a couple of hours at Heathrow Police station and an overnight stay in a local hotel (at their own expense, another airline may relent and very reluctantly fly them, but the security hoops necessary for this make what most every day passengers endure look like a kids tea-party.
Few ever do it again.
Personally, the strangest item I found was a Swarovski Crystal full size model of .38 snub nosed Police special revolver. On x-ray crystal because of its lead content shows solid black. Until it was finally removed from the machine (suspect items are held in the machine until cleared) and inspected by the Police firearms unit it caused some panic among some onlookers. It happens that the carrier knew only that she had been given a crystal present by her husband, and until then didn't know what it was. For a time she didn't know that it was her bag (along with several others held in the machine) that was causing all the trouble.
Tip; no matter how inebriated, fed up with queues or just feeling devilish, don't ever say even in jest that you have any kind of explosive device or weapon on you or in your bags. Such "people" are roundly detested by security staff quickly followed by airline staff. The whole security machine will rapidly fall around you. Not only will you be subject to all of the above, it will in all probability trigger a full aircraft and hold baggage search and serious delays, slot loss by the airline at great cost. It is not without good reason the passenger is not allowed to fly on that flight...for his own safety from his extremely disgruntled fellow passengers.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
Community Veteran
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Re: Flying used to be fun...

I Wonder if this is one of the reasons more people are going on Cruises that leave from a port in this country ?
198kHz
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Re: Flying used to be fun...

Very interesting insights there, PetlewSmiley
Maybe with your experience you could confirm or deny something I heard about marzipan - ie that a sniffer dog and/or a scanner could mistake it for Semtex. Urban myth?
Not young enough to know everything