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Tales from the airport

Community Veteran
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Registered: 30-08-2007

Tales from the airport

If you think being a passenger waiting for the security queues, is a pain in the butt, you might consider what it's like from the other side of the "search tables" Actually, mostly pretty dull and tedious, with in spite of what you may think, very long periods when nothing much happens at all. But occasionally something amusing occurs to liven things up a bit.
    One of my favourite memories involved a Dutch man who's rather bulky hand baggage had been selected for a random search. What follows will be immediately obvious to those of shall we say er! mature years, who may need to explain it some of the younger correspondents to this forum; Anyway, it fell to me to search the bag in question, having gained the Dutchman's consent to do the search, I was surprised to find a genuine policeman's helmet in the bag, I of course enquired why he had such a thing in his bag; "Oh Ja!" he said in a very loud voice, I am also a policeman in Holland, I haf been in Engerland on an exchange visit at Scottish Yard (his words) "They gave me this helmet as a souvenir" He continued in the same loud voice, "I gave them my Dutch Cap" well, a couple of the female staff (of that certain age) nearby collapsed coughing and spluttering with suppressed sniggers and laughter.   
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.
14 REPLIES
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Re: Tales from the airport

As the saying goes "...if the cap fits..."
Contraception: The antidote to most of the problems in our society. Shame it can't be applied restrospectively in many cases...
Community Veteran
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Re: Tales from the airport

One other absurd situation happened at the official opening of Terminal 4. This was carried out by the Prince of Wales and the late Diana Princess of Wales.
One of the highlights of the formalities was a "military" style march-past of Mrs Mopps pushing vacuum cleaners and pulling "Henry" type suction cleaners by their hoses.
It was reported that the Princess had real difficulty keeping a straight face during this spectacle. 
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: Tales from the airport

Going off topic..... well what else would I do?
Here are a couple of examples of contraception methods...... Shocked
1. keep a 1ton granite ball in the bedroom, for use as contraception...... push behind the bedroom door.
2. A glass of water..... to be taken..... not before......not after....... but instead of....
3. Yes!..... when spoken by a woman, obviously means No!....

Grin Cheesy Grin
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Re: Tales from the airport

Quote from: James_H
As the saying goes "...if the cap fits..."
Contraception: The antidote to most of the problems in our society. Shame it can't be applied restrospectively in many cases...

A contraceptive is something that should be used at every conceivable moment Wink
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jmd
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Re: Tales from the airport

Strat - you should offer that slogan to the NHS! Smiley
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Re: Tales from the airport

...and you shouldn't even be reading it tch tch tch! Embarrassed
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jmd
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Re: Tales from the airport

Why?
I have passed all that due to age.............. Sad
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Re: Tales from the airport

Once a lady always a lady...that's what I say Smiley
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Re: Tales from the airport

My time in Heathrow Terminal 4 (13 years) was at the time that Concorde flew out of T4 (I took early retirement a bit before the Paris Concorde disaster) One of the consequences of these flights was a fairly regular throughput of celebrities and VIP’s.
It was a standing rule that security staff did not differentiate between celebrities and the hoi-polis, however we did have a couple of enthusiastic autograph hunters on the staff, who often did their best to get themselves allocated to the “fast track” and Concorde search areas, quite often BA staff would tip them off (for which they could be disciplined) when a celebrity was due to fly. BA would, depending on the real or ego inflated status of the celeb provide an entourage of SFO’s (special facility officers) to escort the celeb “all that way from check-in to the special lounges” and through security, when they did their level best to protect the celebs from the attention of security…it mostly didn’t work. I wouldn’t go are far as to say that we deliberately picked them out for “random” searches, but they often carried quite a lot of “stuff” that made searches necessary anyway.
Some celebs would be very pleasant, many were not; I was on duty (but on a break at the time) the day Diana Ross threw a hissy fit, when she set off the archway metal detector (AMD) and refused point-blank and very loudly to be searched (frisked) and brought the entire terminal to a standstill for a while, she kept on removing metal items until the machine was silent, but it was standard practice, that when this happened the passenger would be “random” searched anyway, Ms Ross became very upset about this, and the 4 SFO’s and her own staff got very agitated as well. It was eventually sorted out by no lesser personage than the Airport Duty Manager who was summonsed to placate the by now hysterical Ms Ross. Following this unedifying spectacle Ms Ross vowed never again to travel with lesser mortals, and now only uses private jets.
But my personal most memorable encounter was with a tall greying man who set-off the AMD one busy Sunday lunchtime (for those who don’t know Sunday between 10:00 and 14:00 are the busiest times of the week) who I didn’t recognise. But I noticed while frisking him a small gold lapel badge in the shape of a Space Shuttle, I asked politely what it signified, and he turned out to be Dr Harrison Schmidt, one of the dozen or so men who have walked on the moon, I asked if I could shake his hand…now that’s a celebrity worth meeting.
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.
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Re: Tales from the airport

To turn to the famous we did like, one in particular stands out; Dustin Hoffman. He was travelling on Concorde alone, but escorted by the usual retinue of BA bag carriers and slaves (just in case he couldn't find his own way to the Concorde lounge of course) His hand bag was rejected at X-ray (unknown to the operator) and had to be hand searched. It was a particularly busy time, and many other bags were queued up before his. Mr Hoffman stood quietly near the search tables waiting, while his BA escorts did their best to hurry the process along by begging for his bag to be taken out-of-turn (strictly a no no, this would cause a riot at busy times)
After a very short time Mr Hoffman was spotted by some passengers, and approached for autographs (including our resident staff hunter) to which he duly obliged, saying to the BA staff who were frantically trying to shield him from the ensuing "mob" "This is what I do" he continued "without all these fans I'd be nothing" and stayed around for a while making sure everybody who wanted was satisfied, then chatted along with the staff member while she searched his bag.
I've never really liked Dustin Hoffman too much as an actor, but I certainly admired him as a human being after that.
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.
glyndev
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Re: Tales from the airport

I met quite a few celebs while I was working on the ticket barrier at Sheffield Midland during the 80's. Some where so fsr up their own @£$&$ it was unbeleivable (Wayne Sleep and Kenneth Williams stick in my memory), Yet others where so polite and friendly it was like you where talking to a member of your family.
I always remember Susan Hampshire was a regular, as she was filming a series called "Leaving" in Sheffield. Every time she passed through the ticket barrier she always asked us how we where and what kind of day we had.
Another meeting that I personally treasure was meeting Tommy Trinder in 1986. He arrived from London at around 8:30pm. He had a couple of people travelling with him and was the last passenger to come through the barrier. I thought that I recognised him and asked if I was correct. He was extremely surprised that someone of my age had recognised him (I was 25 at the time). He then spent about 15 minutes chatting to me, all the time his escorts trying to get him to leave for where they wher going.
I also have the dubious distinction of refusing to let Alex Higgins and Jimmy White onto the station. Reason, they where both drunk at the time.
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Re: Tales from the airport

Before transferring to Terminal 4 passenger search, I started my time at Heathrow in GSU (Ground Security Unit) that looks after the operational vehicle etc. entrances/exits (known as Control Posts) around the airport. One of the major access points was at the entrance to an airside tunnel that passes under the main runways from the central area to/from the south west side of the airport.
For many years local buses were allowed to run through this tunnel, on the strict understanding that the journey through was non-stop -there were no bus stops anyway-  (it was stopped some years ago during a security review, many staff thought it should never have been allowed in the first place)
We got to know the regular bus drivers well, we were required to board the buses and "walk through" and upstairs if a double decker -looking for erm! terrorists I suppose- should anybody know what one looks like! At quieter periods we would liven things up a bit by doing a highly irregular passport check (not our job at all) but the reaction of the passengers could be amusing, especially those from highly regulated countries (China etc.) who almost fell over themselves to be first to show.
At the entrance gate on the the south west end of this tunnel, the barrier gate often gave trouble being prone to sticking in the halfway up or down position. One day we had been pre-warned that a party of airport officials and government regulators would be doing a tour of inspection aboard an unmarked luxury executive coach, documentation was pre-cleared, all the passengers would be issued with passes etc. it was only necessary for a quick I/D check to get this vehicle on it's way into the airside areas, the barrier was opened, to it's full height, and chose that very moment to malfunction, and immediately came down again at some speed crashing onto the roof of the coach trapping it there for some time while engineers were called to free the damaged coach, and allow the by now very long tail-back of traffic through the tunnel.     
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.
alanb
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Re: Tales from the airport

Quote from: petlew
... At quieter periods we would liven things up a bit by doing a highly irregular passport check (not our job at all) but the reaction of the passengers could be amusing, especially those from highly regulated countries (China etc.) who almost fell over themselves to be first to show ...

I'm not at all surprised by that. I've spent much of the last twenty years swanning around the world at my employers expense and I'd say that official checks of this nature are also normal practice in many countries where you might not expect it. I was really surprised to see it happen on visits to Japan, where police stop vehicles and check all passengers identification before allowing them to approach the airport. One of my scariest travel experiences though happened at a Police check-point on the airport road at Lagos in Nigeria. While the check was happening, half a dozen Policemen stood all around the car with rifles pointed at the car windows.
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Re: Tales from the airport

Same here, I get to travel at the expense of my employer too, often the contents of my carry on luggage is really interesting when viewed on x-ray ... circuit boards and metal boxes look really cool ... but this did result in guns being pointed at me pretty quickly at Munich airport. To be honest I was just laughing as clearly I know, but they dont know, that it was all harmless stuff.
SW.
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