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Should some airport security checks be scrapped?

07:37 UK time, Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The chairman of British Airways has said some airport security checks are "completely redundant" and should be scrapped. Do you agree?

Martin Broughton said the UK should stop "kowtowing" to US security demands and called for practices such as forcing passengers to take off their shoes to be abandoned.

He also criticised the US for imposing checks on US-bound flights but not on its own domestic services.

Do you think some airport security checks are excessive? Or do you think the current level of security is necessary? What are your experiences of airport security?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Whilst there is a need for security checks however use your jugdement sometimes they are just ridiculas I was in Glasgow two months ago travelling overseas and security spent 5 minutes searching an 85 year old scottish woman travelling to england on an internal flight!!! get real will you!!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    The reason we are all subjected to rigorous security checks is because of political correctness. Profiling of passengers would mean the vast majority would pass through security unhindered. Because profiling would disproportionately target ethnic minorities, every granny and small child ends up being checked out. Madness.

  • Comment number 3.

    If it means a plane I am travelling on stays in the air then I am happy for as many security checks as deemed necessary. This reeks of Martin Broughton putting commercialism above security and profit above safety.

  • Comment number 4.

    Travelling by air is a nauseous and stressful mode of travel as it is! Watching the time-consuming stripshows as you pass through airport security just adds to the awful experience.
    No common sense is applied to airport security and we just cave in to whatever the US tells us we must do.
    Surely modern technology can come up with some form of system that allows us to transit security checkpoints fully clothed!!

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    No, they should not. If some were to be scrapped and then there was an incident on board I wonder what everyone's reaction would be if it could of be prevented by the current system...........

  • Comment number 7.

    We know that as far as the US is concerned, there is one rule for them and one for the rest. However, we cannot compromise on Security & I believe it is more likely that any breach will come from Airport workers with affliations to Terror groups. I wonder if they go through rigorous screening when applying for a job & when they come to work each day.

  • Comment number 8.

    It needs two things: reality and transparency.

    Reality stops the current security "theater" where some official knee jerk reaction of "being seen to do something" cannot be undone because it would show up the officials as clueless (IMHO actually a good thing). Example 1: liquids. Provide evidence or stop this nonsense. Example 2: sharp objects. Take a good whiskey bottle from duty free and break it: presto, dangerous weapon used in many bar fights.

    Transparency because putting stop & search powers into the hands of the ignorant inevitably leads to abuse, which leads to resentment. Most passengers don't mind security. They DO mind if someone abuses it. Case in point: TSA (with extra bonus points for helping with US economic espionage by "examining" laptops - leave that to the Feds, when there is probable cause so there is some control and track record).

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Security checks shouldn’t be scrapped, but we shouldn’t exaggerate in bothering and upsetting travelers with excessive checks. Moreover, we shouldn’t bow to the demands of America to tighten these measures in the name of combating terrorism. We can catch terrorists and disrupt their plans with normal checks.

  • Comment number 11.

    Perhaps Mr Broughton means security should not be "going through the motions" just to impress that flying is safe from attack. If he does mean that then maybe he has a point. And, to be honest, if someone really wants to commit terrorism they will find a way.

    But the delays caused by security do have a very different usefulness which means a "potential problem" is locked up in a high risk situation for a considerable time. For observers delay is quite a tool.

  • Comment number 12.

    . At 08:01am on 27 Oct 2010, Dr Prod wrote:
    The reason we are all subjected to rigorous security checks is because of political correctness. Profiling of passengers would mean the vast majority would pass through security unhindered. Because profiling would disproportionately target ethnic minorities, every granny and small child ends up being checked out. Madness.


    Richard Reid. Zachary Adam Chesser.Jermaine Lindsay.Nicky Reilly.

    Assuming they were canny enough not to mention their faith on their travel documents, all of them would have walked straight through any checks based on religous or ethnic profiling.

    There are no shortcuts to safety.

  • Comment number 13.

    12. At 08:28am on 27 Oct 2010, InertiaStalls wrote:
    . At 08:01am on 27 Oct 2010, Dr Prod wrote:
    The reason we are all subjected to rigorous security checks is because of political correctness. Profiling of passengers would mean the vast majority would pass through security unhindered. Because profiling would disproportionately target ethnic minorities, every granny and small child ends up being checked out. Madness.


    Richard Reid. Zachary Adam Chesser.Jermaine Lindsay.Nicky Reilly.

    Assuming they were canny enough not to mention their faith on their travel documents, all of them would have walked straight through any checks based on religous or ethnic profiling.

    There are no shortcuts to safety.

    Who mentioned anything about ethic or religious profiling? I stated passenger profiling. Get your facts right.

  • Comment number 14.

    Most of the security checks are there for the appearance of security. The only truly effective tools are the chemical sniffers and the bag scanners. I'm a frequent flyer and it's only too obvious how to fool any particular security system if you're determined and smart.

    What I'd like to know is why it takes longer to get into this country than it does to get out.

  • Comment number 15.

    Of course some of the checks should be dropped, mostly they're nothing but security theatre, doing nothing but making people feel safer.

    Just like the liquids things seems to have been based on a plot to blow up a plane that could never have worked (according to UK army munitions experts no less).

  • Comment number 16.

    There is absolutely no reason for these security checks. Why are planes deemed extremely delicate when anyone could hop on a bus or train that has more people on? The only reason for these security checks is so that we can be tracked and profiled.

    By making us all suspicious of each other means that the terrorist win and we loose all of our freedoms.

  • Comment number 17.

    The system would have more credibility if there was consistency within the UK airports or even sometimes within an airport. Depending which airport you are going through in the UK the checks vary - whether you need to take your shoes off or not being one of the most common. Even going through the same airport wearing the same shoes I am sometimes asked to take them off and sometimes not. Either its extreme sloppiness by the security staff in implementing procedures or the rules are being made up locally and there is no UK standard.

  • Comment number 18.

    US security paranoia makes me unwilling to visit there or use their carriers knowing I am going to be treated like a potential terrorist every step of the way. They seem to have the knack of responding in an extreme manner to every threat, but only after it happens. Today it's shoes, tomorrow do we get our Y-fronts inspected?

  • Comment number 19.

    We're between a rock and a hard place on this one...

    ...we either have strict airport policies and succeed or we loosen them up until something untoward occurs.

    However these strict policies are draconian, intrusive and time consuming making flying an awkward experience for anyone travelling with children.

    Its the 'something untoward occurring' thats the problem. A hijack at an airport is bad but not as bad as a bomb exloding onboard at 35,000ft.

    There is the chance to do something about the former but not the latter.

    And would you want to be on board in either situation?

  • Comment number 20.

    Its not so bad being subjected to all the searches. What really gets up my nose is that there are ALWAYS queues, so the endless waiting is what I want to get rid of. If the airlines want a comprehensive security system in place, they should take on some more people, and stop using these huge waiting periods to cover up their deliberate short-staffing!
    The other side of this of course is the continued paranoia of the UK and US governments. They continue with the Bush/Bliar story knowing that they can spend huge amounts of our money and not be accountable for it.

  • Comment number 21.

    13. At 08:31am on 27 Oct 2010, Dr Prod wrote:
    12. At 08:28am on 27 Oct 2010, InertiaStalls wrote:
    . At 08:01am on 27 Oct 2010, Dr Prod wrote:
    The reason we are all subjected to rigorous security checks is because of political correctness. Profiling of passengers would mean the vast majority would pass through security unhindered. Because profiling would disproportionately target ethnic minorities, every granny and small child ends up being checked out. Madness.


    Richard Reid. Zachary Adam Chesser.Jermaine Lindsay.Nicky Reilly.

    Assuming they were canny enough not to mention their faith on their travel documents, all of them would have walked straight through any checks based on religous or ethnic profiling.

    There are no shortcuts to safety.


    Who mentioned anything about ethic or religious profiling? I stated passenger profiling. Get your facts right.

    Fair enough, please explain the kind of profiling you had in mind which would have caught these men without inconvieniencing the rest of the passengers?

  • Comment number 22.

    Absolutely they are excessive. In flying OUT of the UK some 2 years ago for a simple, pre-booked package holiday I went through what felt like more scanners than a package of toxic waste and had even to take my shoes off so they could be scanned too.

    On the way back however, where I could have been carrying all manner of illegal substance we all breezed through.

    I vowed never again to fly anywhere.....and I haven't

  • Comment number 23.

    Dress appropriately for air travel ie. slip-on or easy to remove shoes etc & it's no problem. I have no issues with the current security, I'd much rather be subjected to that than a large blast in a aeroplane at 40000 feet. Sounds like a bit more commercialism to me. I'm all for making some of the H&S laws redundant (like letting kids play with conkers etc.) but this isn't an H&S issue as such it's a fight against nutters who think it's the way to a hundred virgins (I like to think butt ugly ones. LOL) to blow up a plane full of tourists.
    Leave the security as it is for once I kind of like the American OTT approach.

  • Comment number 24.

    As someone who flies quite regularly it becomes quite annoying when the standard of checks varies from place to place and seems more about the whim of the security staff on duty rather than any concerted effort to keep people safe. It's fair to say that additional checks might make travel safer but to facilitate the smooth running of airports, additional security staff and equipment needs to be installed, rather than attempt to shoehorn several thousand through a system designed for several hundred. I also believe that passengers themselves can be more helpful, removing laptops BEFORE you reach the security barrier and also removing your coat in advance of reaching the barrier speed the process up. Airlines don't help, I have always been told that hand luggage is limited to ONE bag, why do I see so many using airlines with three, four or five bags? Security is everyone's business but we all need to understand the rules that are being applied and can then decide whether we think they are necessary or not

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    Security before you board an aircraft is all very well, but what if terrorists with large cases of explosives blew themselves up at the check-in hall? Currently there is no check on people walking through the airport entrance!

    We need to take a step back and not adopt the knee-jerk reactions we have at the moment. A more intelligence based approach is needed, and if we upset some religous/ethnic groups, TOUGH!

  • Comment number 27.

    What do you expect from a country that desribes people from other parts of the Earth as 'aliens'.

  • Comment number 28.

    @ian cheese: Airport workers are subjected to security checks far stricter than you may be aware. Not only the full transit checks when going airside but also extensive background checks before they can get an airside pass. Of course, that may not identify "sleepers" like the 7/7 bombers but short of 24/7 surveillance on every pass holder you can only do what's reasonable.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Taking off your shoes is pretty redundant and not all countries follow this procedure so it seems ineffective for us to, i once was asked to take my flip flops off what could i hide in there? originally taking your shoes off was because some shoes mainly boots have metal parts in them, like in the heel and set the machines !!! I think if we are going to have security procedures like this they should be international and not just a few countries. If terroists or drug smugglers are going to carry things they will use ways that we have not seen yet.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think a lot of people are missing an important point here. The current checks cannot stop an attack. You simply cannot do that. It is perfectly possible to circumnavigate the checks, in many ways, and I'm sure the terrorists are planning it already. But at least people feel safer, that is what these checks are about.

    What will people accept next, full rectal cavity searches for all passengers after a terrorist hides liquid explosives there? No toilets on any plane (ideal detonation zone)?

  • Comment number 32.

    Simply put, security checks at present are over the top. Not only that, but as a consumer I am severly affected. Things like not being allowed to take water with you. Apart from the fact that I question the point of the rule anyway, but water now costs almost triple beyond security, as it does before. How is this right? Similarly, there is no consistency on what you can take on a plane whic might be deemed a "weapon". A friend of mine had a stone easter egg confiscated because it could have been used as a weapon - but by that logic, so can my pen, my belt, my shoe lace. How is this right? I think there needs to be more consistency, and better use of technology. Right now, it all smacks of "we want to look like we're protecting you, so nobody tries anything".

  • Comment number 33.

    Security, or the perception of security has three purposes:

    1. To stop the opportunist from attempting to "smuggle" stuff on board.
    2. To give confidence to passengers.
    3. To hopefully catch any bad guys.

    roughly in that order. It's the perception of being secure that keeps our safety-conscious do-gooders happy in their innocent and naiive belief that it's a catch-all system. Yes, it DOES stop many people from carrying "banned" goods and substances, but the real security measures are hidden within the overall checks - the ones that actually count.

    I've occasionally had my bag and hands swabbed for chemical traces, or been patted down by a security guard, and I'm sure the hold baggage gets checked out by sniffer dogs. This is the real security, and removing belts and shoes, and not being allowed more than 100mls of any single liquid was simply knee-jerk political spin designed to appease and not to protect.

    So, to answer the question, yes, some airport checks should be scrapped as completely useless and only for show.

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    Its really hard to see how putting a bottle of liquid into a plastic bag makes it any more "safe" or "Secure".

    Its just a money making ploy to sell bags at £2 to unfortunate travellers.

    Its hard to see how 3 x 100ml bottles of "liquid" are any more safe than one 250ml bottle.

    Its just a money making scheme to make passengers discard bottles and buy new ones after passing security

    Money, not security, is the driving factor of some checks.

  • Comment number 36.

    Martin Broughtons' comments are slightly misdirected as very often travellers leaving Europe for the UK are subjected to second security check at the request apparently of the UK government.
    For that matter checks in the UK are overdone - removing belts at BAA airports for instance which is not strictly "required" for security and instead appears to be a commercial move by BAA to reduce their required resource.
    I would rather have seen him complaining about the attempted commercialisation of the security process in the UK
    For instance BAA and Liverpool John Lennon at least, are charging for fast track = queue jumping.
    Liquids ban allows airport businesses to charge rip off prices for water etc.
    Yes making passengers jump through hoops to travel is damaging the industry. I prefer to drive ove domestic flying in some cases and returning from the US is indeed easier security wise, at least until arriving at T5 and queueing five times between one plane and the other.

  • Comment number 37.

    In August I travelled through Pisa airport- inadvertently I had left a carton of liquid in my hand luggage- it was not discovered. In September I travelled through Pisa airport,having made quite sure I had no liquid in my hand luggage- my bag was emptied, because the scanner insisted I had liquid in it. How useful are these checks?

  • Comment number 38.

    Traveling through Southampton this weekend, my wife was force to remove her boots but I was allowed to keep wearing my shoes. Why, are boots particularly dangerous or threatening?

    She was then hand-searched after making the metal detector bleep. A body search revealed that the cause was the under-wiring in her bra. Chatting to other passengers later, it seemed that all the ladies who had under-wired bras were hand searched. Hardly a proportionate response to pick one one gender only, who choose to wear a particular sort of underwear!

  • Comment number 39.

    Any competent security officer will recognise suspicious behaviour at a hundred yards. It does not require overt and infantile procedures to identify criminals. Dedicated terrorists always have a way of circumventing formal security systems. Give the professionals some credibility and let them do their job.

  • Comment number 40.

    Yeahhhhhhhh. Great idea. Stop the security checks until there is a bomb or weapon of some sort carried on board and a plane is brought down and then we can all complain about the lack of security checks at airports.

  • Comment number 41.

    Yes. I have stopped flying to America because of the degrading so called security checks. I used to go on holiday in America at least once a year but now I have changed destination and go to Europe by Eurostar or go cruising instead. It is no skin off my nose.

    My sixty year old wife was once put in a cage in New York for a personal search all because of a bra wire so no more cowardly America for us.

  • Comment number 42.

    Living abroad and flying frequently back to the UK from other destinations shows you that this is all pretty pointless. The rest of the world is not interested in the degree of nit-picking that the British airports have made a way of life. That means that anyone coming into a British airport has not undergone the degree of checking the British seem to need- and they can wander round at will.
    If the US and the UK are so interested in this degree of security then keep it on flights between their two countries.

  • Comment number 43.

    Don't ask for Common Sense in today's world !! Why for e.g. at Heathrow do they ask one row of passengers at the security screening for each to take their belts and shoes off and in the parallel aisle the collegues don't and people just walk through with shoes on ?? Most of the visible security screening is to give a feeling that something is being done but the true terrorist are as usual always one step ahead of the game just as they were on 9/11 and other events. I don't believe I feel any safer by knowing all passengers are being asked to take their shoes off at a security check !

  • Comment number 44.

    I worked in Belfast during the first IRA cease-fire. Talking to a senior protestent with regard to terrorism he admitted that everyone knew that if they wanted to the IRA could 'take-out' the centre of Belfast in a day.

    I do not believe that the current security measures would stop an intelligently planned terrorist organisation from taking out a plane. The current measures are there to stop the 'do it in the garden shed' type of terrorist. My wife is a hairdresser, she knew immediately after the event why the second lot of london bombers failed. If she, a hairdresser, knows how to handle the chemicals involved it would take a not too savvy looney terrorist little time to do the job right, as we found on 7/7.

    Am I concerned? No, travelled by plane twice last week without a care. Yes some of the security is a pain, but hey, I'm the guy who takes the advice and arrives at the airport 2 hours before my flight and have no problems standing in a short line for the checks. It's the people who arrive at the last minute, havn't bagged their liquids correctly and packed everything away without understanding that they will have to undo all that packing during check-in.

    Yes I know that some of the american procedures are stupid. If the shoe bomber had had a lighter (which is now allowed) rather than a box of matches (which is still banned) he would have succeded. If the USA wants to throw it's weight arround and remain the nation that EVERYONE loves to hate, then let them get on with it, (I read recently a criticism of the USA by an american as to why their own actions generate loathing of them around the world).

    So I say look at security objectivly, keep out the speculation and the tabloid headlines and please, please stop the politicians grand-standing on this (and all other) issue.

  • Comment number 45.

    The security checks at airports add little to our safety, and seem intended only to give an impression of security. The ban on potential weapons is over the top. My wife used to enjoy doing embroidery on long flights, but is now prevented by not being allowed to carry small needles in her hand baggage.

  • Comment number 46.

    @27 Cojon
    Hmm...the word 'alien' in that context is a legal one. It's used worldwide to describe a person who comes from a foreign country, an individual who does not have allegiance to the country of his or her current environment.
    As far as the airport checks go, I really have no problem with them. Get to the airport in plenty time, have a coffee, wander up to security. Just be relaxed about the whole thing. I really don't see what the big deal is!

  • Comment number 47.

    Unfortunatly we can not say enough is enough. I am really more afraid with security mesures and security powers than the so called terrorism danger. I am begining to think that all this training and power given and freedom repressed is not for the terrorist from outside but dissidents against the despot clict. I am not sure if that is elected members or the chosen members that got elected by the untouchouble clict that decide for us how we should live or how much we deserve.
    Whwn Police and law stops protecting weak and the right and starts protecting the the people that take advantage of the simple public is the time when those anti terrorism laws will start to be implemented. Against the common people.

  • Comment number 48.

    Some level of security check is obviously required and necessary. But this must be proportionate and measured. The knee-jerk approach on security checks taken by the USA in response to 9/11 attack and imposed by them on almost every country in the world is designed, to a large extend, to punish the general public. The proportionate amount of security check can be done in a much more humane way, not the aggressive stance taken now.

    The BA Chairman is absolutely right that the measures are excessive and should be scrapped. In fact, they should have been scrapped or modified ages ago.

  • Comment number 49.

    There is now no pleasure in air travel. Endless queing, several times over to catch one flight, interminable waiting and hanging round mind-numbing shopping arcades, and then total discomfort once allowed to board. This of course is after doing all the online stuff beforehand, from finding flights, booking them, paying for all the odds and sods that result in the fare being doubled, then printing the boarding passes before arriving hours early to do all the queing thing. It is utterly exhausting. Let the train take the strain, if only we had a decent rail service and investment in infrastructure.
    Security? Yes there has to be some, but please standardise the procedure across all UK airports. Currently we have to try and remember which ones need shoes off, laptops out, tiny bottles in clear bags; oh and while we're on the subject what about those queues to get back in again, with that border agency mob that sprang up from nowhere? Landing at Edinburgh last week it took one full hour to get from tarmac to car park exit, and that's without any baggage reclaim - then we had the farce that is Edinburgh's prepaid parking arrangements, queuing again to get ticket validated by one man with an antiquated manual system. Time to lie down in a darkened room.......

  • Comment number 50.

    Airline security checks have so far failed to catch any terrorists. They were (and continue to be) a misguided over-reaction to the September 11th attacks (misguided because they wouldn't have caught the 911 hijackers as they hijacked US domestic flights where these checks aren't implemented).

    One presumes the "separate screening process" that liquids on sale inside the terminal go through involves checking each and every single bottle before they're put on sale just to make sure they're safe and to make sure getting rid of liquids before boarding isn't just a futile waste of time designed to extract maximum revenue from passengers?

    One presumes there is also some logic to the rule that you can't take non-safety matches with you but you can take a lighter, that you can't take a pair of scissors with blades longer than 6cm but you can take a pair of scissors with blades no longer than 6cm, that you can take knitting needles but not a corkscrew, that you can't take a cigarette lighter in your hand luggage but you can carry one on your person (as long as it's not a gun-shaped cigarette lighter).

    The whole thing's a farce designed to make you think terrorists are everywhere, that if it's not you at least you could well be a suspect, that the people next to you are even more under suspicion, and that the security guards could never be suspects because I bet any terrorist worth their salt has never thought of that one.

  • Comment number 51.

    Security, all security, is a weakest link problem - why break down a front door when you can break the glass pane on a back door? It's the same with airport security. Regardless of whether authorities check shoes or laptops separately, if a terrorist knows this in advance, s/he will put a bomb in their underpants (which won't be checked) or disguise the bomb by breaking it into separate parts, which screeners will miss - they already miss 70% of knives, 60% of mock-up bombs and 30% of guns according to one study. The answer as one person has already noted is profiling supplemented by highly trained security personnel looking for people that meet profiles and out of the ordinary behaviour - take lessons from the Israelis who have never ever had an incident with airline security. Apart from utilising the machines as best we can, and introducing uncertainty to deter professionals, the rest is theatre and much (including time-consuming separate checks for shoes, laptops, belts) is pointlessly redundant as Broughton correctly asserts.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    Coming from Northern Ireland in the height of the troubles - and there fore clearly a terrorist to anyone working in an airport - I have been subjected to heightened security measures for years, from additional searches, completing "landing forms", and being stored in the furthest wing of the airport to keep everyone else safe.

    I'm all for profiling in airports, but some of the other measures (100ml bottles in a clear plastic bag) are nonsense. A determined terrorist will find a way when they need to.

  • Comment number 54.

    I agree with post number 20 regarding long queues. It's not as though the number of passengers at any time is unknown, after all. Security checks would possibly feel less of a burden if passengers could get through quickly, not an hour or more, as I have occasionally been subjected to. In fairness, the wait is more often in the realms of ten to fifteen minutes. As to how necessary all the security measures are, I can only say that it was a bit easier moving around during the last World War, though admittedly those flying had a rather different purpose in mind than tourism or business trips of a conventional kind.

  • Comment number 55.

    A simple guideline would be 'If Israel don't do it, then we probably shouldn't bother' - surely if anyone is going to be targeted by islamic terrorists (by far the most common affiliation at the moment) then it will be Israel.

    Most of these security checks would actually be far better off being replaced by simply googling every passenger as they arrive and using that as the basis for 'profiling' who to search more diligently.

    Unfotunately, it is in the interests of the airport owning companies to promote as much delay as possible during transit through their airports - the longer you are held in there, the more money they can extract from you (especially if you do things like banning people from bringing their own drinks through security and then immediately sell them loads more at huge mark ups).

    There is some small competition against this for short-haul flights as it becomes quicker to go by train (hence the fact that domestic flights are often exempt from many security checks - why ? is it any less likely that a terrorist will want to blow up a flight from Manchester to London than Manchester to Paris ? I doubt it.) but for long-haul flights there is no other choice but air travel so passengers are at the mercy of these security measures.

    As an example of this - if we are required to arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before we fly so our bags can be checked through and loaded but we cannot take any liquids through security then why can't we arrive at the airport 3 hours before flight, check through our bags and then wait outside security for 2 1/2 hours eating our own food and drink ? When our flight is ready to board, then we go through security, leaving all our empty drinks and such behind and get straight on the plane. Same security level but no captive audience for the overpriced airport concessions and 'Duty Free' (which I take to mean 'We pay no duty on these goods but you still pay us pretty much the normal price as we then rake in an extra 20-80% profit').

    In reality, security measures should only be instituted if they have been shown to be effective and then implemented in such a way as to minimise transit time.

  • Comment number 56.

    Whilst most people would agree there is a need for security and vigilance not only in airports,but also ferry terminals, and city centers etc.

    I think when passing through security especially at airports and I am asked to remove my shoes,empty my pockets and remove my trouser belt it makes you feel like a second class citizen.

    Last year I was coming back from France and injured my legs in a car accident, I struggled onto the plane for a flight back to Bristol international airport whereupon trying to walk off the plane in agony a very nice security lady realised I was in a lot of pain and promptly put me in a wheel chair and wheeled me through a side gate completely bypassing security??

    Don't get me wrong I was very grateful but the system can be flexible!

    I don't know what the answer is but I would prefer to have security than not.

    Thanks skinnygreekbloke.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment by the airport chief is proof, if it was needed, that the UK has a much more confident and mature approach to security than the US, arising perhaps from its long experience with the IRA. I am a dual national and experience US airport security on a regular basis. I never cease to be amazed by the idiocy, not only of the rules, but the way they are applied. Once I had medicine confiscated at JFK, even though it was the right size and in a see-through plastic bag, because it had been decanted into a travel-size bottle and did not have a brand label, so they said didn't know what it was. Another time, I travelled with some Christmas crackers in my hand luggage (to prevent them from being crushed) and at the x-ray stage it turned out there were a couple of small scissors and nailclippers. Heathrow applied common sense and waived it through; the US airport that screened it on arrival (another odd arrangement) did not. Americans complain about this all the time, but think there is no alternative.

  • Comment number 58.

    Excessive security checks belong to a past era, the era of the so-called "war on terror", which any sensible person knows, was a mere figment of George Bush's paranoid imagination.

  • Comment number 59.

    Of course we all want to fly safely, but the policy on liquids and sharp objects is absurd with no application of common sense. I have had cuticle clippers removed whose blades are about 8mm long which I do not consider dangerous while being allowed to carry through a metal cased biro pen which was stiletto-like and six inches long and could be a very effective weapon. Transparent containers of cosmetic creams which were 200ml which are half full (so only 100ml then) are removed. Suspiciously it is always the expensive brands which are confiscated. Being made to taste my granddaughters baby food in front of the queue seems a little over the top too.

    Can anyone tell me where all this stuff goes?

  • Comment number 60.

    Not sure "should checks be scrapped" is the right question to ask. Of course we need security checks at airports; and of course these checks should be under constant review to make sure they're effective and necessary. Those that aren't, should be scrapped.

    Mr Broughton certainly has one thing right, though - security measures at British airports should be under British control, not America's or any other country's. I can't see the US "kow-towing" to any security demands we might make - they already refuse to provide anywhere near as much information on their own citizens travelling abroad, as they demand about ours when they visit the 'States - so I don't see that they can justifiably expect us to defer to their paranoia.

  • Comment number 61.

    At last some common sense from someone in authority. I travel by plane on a weekly basis & the UK system is simply ridiculous. Apart from comments made by BA chairman there are other insane regulations. On arriving at UK with ongoing internal flight at Heathrow, you pass through a boarding card check in - then a passport check in - then another boarding card check in - then at the gate a further boarding card check in and 3 yards after that another boarding card/Passport check in. Then you have to show boarding card again on the plane. This is basically what you would exopect in an assylum. Pure and total nonsense, a waste of time & it annoys both staff and passengers. Lets get some common sense back. 1 total screening (boarding card/passport)is all that is required.

  • Comment number 62.

    Of course there is a place for security - but there comes a point when it becomes too much - the ridiculous liquids rule is one such example, the brief banning of all liquids after the failed plot likely hit only passengers

    And the new body scanners being rolled out have not been tested for long-term health problems - we are exposing people to years of background radiation, and we don't know if in a few years frequent flyers may start to have problems

    As with all things it is risk and reward - using x-rays seems like too much of a risk to me when you consider you are safer on a plane than any other form of transport, buses and trains have no security

    And what really annoys me, as Broughton says, is that US domestic passengers don't undergo much of this nonsense - yet which planes were hijacked?

  • Comment number 63.

    I am sick of pointless security, and flights to the US are by far the worst.

    I used to visit Florida regularly, i have voted with my feet, i no longer take holidays in the US. Nor go there for any reason. I now holiday more in Europe.

    Even took a coach holiday this year just to avoid flying.

  • Comment number 64.

    At 09:02am on 27 Oct 2010, A Rahman wrote:
    Some level of security check is obviously required and necessary. But this must be proportionate and measured. The knee-jerk approach on security checks taken by the USA in response to 9/11 attack and imposed by them on almost every country in the world is designed, to a large extend, to punish the general public. The proportionate amount of security check can be done in a much more humane way, not the aggressive stance taken now.

    The BA Chairman is absolutely right that the measures are excessive and should be scrapped. In fact, they should have been scrapped or modified ages ago.

    Absolutely agree. However, for the USA to impose security checks on the rest of the world effectively implies an acceptance of that imposition. Perhaps it would make a difference if nobody travelled by air to the USA under current restrictions. Difficult perhaps, but maybe money talks after all. The sticky question is what measures of security would be commonly accepted as proportionate and measured, and given the human ability to disagree on almost anything...!

  • Comment number 65.

    Security checks would be more popular if they ever caught anyone. Where is this vital proof of deterrence and capability.

    Slightly off subject nut relevant is the problem of armed police with automatic weapons. Just think of the carnage if they ever open fire on anyone in a crowded airport. And if they wouldn't then what use are they other that foolish puppets?

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67. staff, through my experience, have been incapable of using their common sense. BRISTOL AIRPORT is right up there with the worst...
    I agree with Steve129a, I have seen exactly the same thing happen on several occassions at Bristol Airport, causing undue stress for elderly individuals-ABSOLUTELY NO COMMON SENSE.
    When I have travelled through Dubai, Johannesburg and Paris, security has been been very good-the difference...the individuals about their jobs simply have had more common sense and have used their discretion.

  • Comment number 68.

    I am a regular passenger with a regional airline and recently my attention was drawn to another passenger of a certain etnic origin. This in itself was unusual in my part of the world and so was his behaviour. It was either his first flight or he had ants in his pants. I couldn't help it, it was not PC etc but I am only human and I was unsettled by him and his actions. My only comfort was that all passengers on the flight had undergone a thorough security process. So no, if anything we need to retain security checks and improve them whenever necessary. If any one is responsible for this inconvenience it is terrorism, NOT the government.

  • Comment number 69.

    I think it is a misconception that the airports go through these stringent security checks in stead of profiling lest it targets the ethnic minorities disproportionately.When I went through the security checks at Heathrow a couple of weeks ago they waived me through even though I was wearing a lace up shoes yet the middle aged couple in front of me had to take their shoes and belts off and the lady's handbag was searched thoroughly.Ironically I am dark skinned and they were white!

  • Comment number 70.

    I'm a licensed explosives manufacturer who also travels abroad quite frequently.

    Every time I go through the security checks I observe how useless they are - only reacting to what has been attempted before, and ignoring the alternative ways of placing a bomb on a plane.

    I won't go into detail, but it is frighteningly easy.

    Airline security needs to focus on identifying potentially bad people, and not bad things; and the squeamishness over racial profiling has to be set aside.

  • Comment number 71.

    I think it is important that security checks are kept in perspective. It is important to ensure that all travellers and air crew are safe but I do find the security checks frustrating and incredibly time consuming.
    I regularly fly between London and Dublin for business and every time I go through security I have to remove my shoes!! Is this level of security really necessary? - especially on short haul flights??

  • Comment number 72.

    Martin Broughton says that we should only do the security checks on US-bound flights that the US authorities require on internal flights. He then cites removing shoes and scanning laptops separately as examples. Those are particularly bad examples because those *are* requirements on US internal flights!

    Removing belts is a perfectly sensible measure. It is not because belts are dangerous and need to be screened separately but because many belt buckles are big lumps of metal that will set off the metal detector. If that happens, the wearer has to take it off and pass through the detector again, delaying everybody else in the queue. We all get through security faster if everyone takes their belt off. Likewise, women's heeled shoes usually have metal-reinforced heels so women were often asked to remove them even before Richard Reid turned shoes into a direct security threat.

  • Comment number 73.

    In 2008 I was on my way back to Afghanistan after R&R, travelling in my desert combat uniform. When boarding a BA flight from Newcastle to Heathrow I found it midly amusing that I had to remove my boots and belt for security checks.
    Fortunately I didn't have to repeat the process when boarding the RAF Tristar for my flight to Kandahar.

  • Comment number 74.

    I have come to think about this very carefully.
    I don't like the yanks and I don't like them telling us how to run our own country here in the UK.
    But I have to say this from a personal point of view, if the yanks did not tell us about taking our shoes off at the airports, then I think we should have thought of this a long time ago.
    I know you can't always stop these nutter when they want to do some harm to us, but we've got to plug any gap that we can to stop these nutters getting through...

  • Comment number 75.


    Airport operators employ people to "test" Security Officers on a regular basis. The kind of people they employ are exactly the opposite of the "usual suspects". Middle aged business men, elderly women etc. Security Officers who fail these tests can be disciplined and for repeat failure dismissed. The testers are trained to lie, cheat, double bluff etc to see how far they can get before they are caught out. For all you or I know that elderly woman could have been one of the testers.

  • Comment number 76.

    Security checks have been shown to be necessary because of the activities of fanatics of certain religious faiths. The senior clerics of these faiths are actively encouraging foul behaviour by targetting all forms of public travel. Until these fanatics and clerics are eliminated then enhanced security is needed. Obviously our cowardly politicians are unwilling to take the hard decisions. If the people of any nation are not prepared to stand up to their leaders who support terrorism then those people are just a guilty as the terrorists. They in turn should sffer the consequences by any and all means available.
    As to the actual security measures in place they should stay but be performed by national agencies and not by foreigners imported by airport operators who want the job done by the cheapest means available.

  • Comment number 77.

    I go on holiday in two days so Ill have an opinion then. All I know is my mother accidentally took a 2inch flip knife on her keyring on holiday to America in 2005. She passed all security checks before realising she had it on her. Now you may be wondering why she would have a 2inch flip knife on her, she worked at Ikea opening boxes... It came in handy

  • Comment number 78.

    I agree with 53.Common sense has been taken out of the equation here.I cannot understand how a bottle of mineral water poses a security risk!

  • Comment number 79.

    I could list fifty different ways a terrorist could easily kill and maim people, and not get caught. All it takes is a little bit of imagination. If we make it harder to execute acts of terrorism on aircraft, the terrorists will just find alternative ways to do it.

    If you really want to fight terrorism you have to understand its underlying causes. Saying they're evil and brainwashed explains nothing.

    What makes caring, intelligent people turn into terrorists? Understand that and you can quietly cut off the supply of willing vassals - and terrorism suffocates.

    "Fight" it with draconian preventative measures and you instill fear into the hearts of innocent people.

    And then terrorism has won.

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 81.

    @27 Cojon
    Hmm...the word 'alien' in that context is a legal one. It's used worldwide to describe a person who comes from a foreign country, an individual who does not have allegiance to the country of his or her current environment.
    I did not see signs for 'aliens', when I arrived at Heathrow T3 last month.I am not an authourity on legal terms used 'worldwide',but as an LLB student,I cannot recall coming across it,in English law so far.Perhaps you could enlighten me on how it is used 'worldwide' as a legal term.

  • Comment number 82.

    Surely we're forgetting that one of concepts behind terrorism is to take away our freedom. It appears this has already happened in our airports where removing clothing and getting frisked is becoming more and more commonplace.
    I can understand the desire for safety and agree with the checks we used to carry out in airports many years ago, but this has gone more than a few steps too far.
    Should we not be looking at the cause of the terrorism, rather than trying to stop it at a stage which is clearly too late?

  • Comment number 83.

    I agree that some airport security checks are targetted indiscriminately and because of that make little sense. What is needed is a system of random selection of individuals for more thorough screening, similar to inbound customs checks, based on the current threat assessment and circumstances. A basic check of everyone should remain at the back of this system of selection, that should be intelligence driven, just like customs checks.

  • Comment number 84.

    Yes, of course most of the checks should be scrapped - simply because they are useless, and have never yet caught a single terrorist, becuase they wouldn't be stupid enough to carry anything in a means already being checked. Yes, there is always a risk that someone will get bombs/explosives etc. onto a plane, but does anyone REALLY believe that the current predicatable checks would stop them? e.g. would the current checks stop a woman with explosives in a false bra, or a non-metal knife in a waistband, or anything at all concealed in a body cavity? Unless we subjected every single passenger to a full strip and cavity search, then we might as well give up the whole process, which is now more about giving an "illusion of security" and providing a huge raft of income/employment than it is about safety.

  • Comment number 85.

    The security checks aren't actually all that effective.

    They're only there to make people think something is being done when it isn't. This is a false security.

    There have been countless examples where people have tested this so-called security and have passed through unhindered while carrying things deemed to be "unsafe". Very few examples of where it has actually succeeded.

  • Comment number 86.

    4 years ago I broke my leg and needed a metal plate and screws fitting. I flew twice with this metal and was never stopped. Last year I had a total knee replacement and was stopped at Heathrow and had a full search. Returning to the uk at Mauritius airport the metal detector did not bleep and I walked straight through!!! I am all for security but I have shown the systems are fallible.

  • Comment number 87.

    Security checks are a small inconvenience to protect our way of life from those who, for various reasons, should like to disrupt or even end it. I can live with such an inconvenience if it makes the difference between myself and my family safely completing the trip.

  • Comment number 88.

    And what about airport management? Why is it that UK airports always look like they are dealing with unexpected quantities of passengers? There's nothing unexpected! Herd large numbers of people together and you risk them being a target for violent religious extremists.

    I recently flew via the far east and had one of the best airport experiences at Hong Kong. Friendly polite security staff - all smiling; no more than about 6 people in a queue in a cavernous area; good separation of processes so that herding didn't happen. I arrived back into the new terminal 5 at Heathrow and it was an absolute nightmare - herded everywhere, confusion, officials barking and getting stroppy.... I don't object to proving that I have no ill intent when I travel, but I do mind the bad management and lack of imagination that leads to these senseless and dangerous situations.

  • Comment number 89.

    This is what happens when religious nutcases believe that their lives can be best spent by murdering others. If certain groups of people believed that life was more sacred then they wouldn't be that keen on blowing up themselves as well as innocent people.
    The security industry has mushroomed on the back of these religious fanatics.

  • Comment number 90.

    Basic security checks fine, but taking shoes off, forcing people to ditch their bottles of water etc, oh come on. 90% of people don't get body searched and any determined terrorist could easily conceal plastic explosives on their person so well that even if they were body checked they wouldn't be found. Then there's the water business, let's be honest the airports can't believe their luck. We have two children and when they were babies we were allowed to carry bottles full of liquid on, now their over 3 and suddenly in the eyes of the jumped up 'D' class school dropouts in uniforms working on the security checks they are deemed potential terrorists.

    Again any determined terrorist group could easily smuggle in such explosives via the deliveries made to the shops inside the departure areas. Answer this, how many of the thousands of bottles of water that get delivered every week to those shops are actually checked?

    They do all these checks for people getting on to a plane but how many of these hardened checks are made on the perimeter of the airport, if I were a terrorist I wouldn't bother getting on to the plane but just position myself 300 yds off the end of the runway with an RPG and then be able to get away as well. Sad as it is but it's these things that really make a mockery of these ridiculous checks.

  • Comment number 91.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 92.

    I suppose airport security checks are necessary while homicidal lunatics roam this world; but a little more common sense might eliminate some of the absurdities, such as a request I once had to show the metal bar and screws used to to bolt together the formerly shattered bone inside my leg.
    A quick medical operation at the check-in counter?
    The mind boggles.

  • Comment number 93.

    Mr Broughton, chairman of BA is also chairman of Liverpool FC (!) according to the report related to this HYS question. Also Philip Hammond, Conservative Transport Minister is involved.

    Difficult to read between the lines without suspicion. However, we do need 'experts' to seriously review and collaborate/co-ordinate a 'gold standard' of security across the whole public aviation industry and airports too.

  • Comment number 94.

    I do not object to the safety checks if they work. What I think is very wrong is you cannot take knitting needles, nail files or tweezers but you can buy a glass bottle of spirits and to me that can become a far worse weapon than any of the ones mentioned. Difference is a profit can be made from these sales so that is overlooked.

  • Comment number 95.

    Let's face it. If your aim is to kill a lot of people with a bomb, you don't need to get on a plane - you could easily do it prior to the security screening. In fact, as 7/7 showed, you don't need to be at an airport either, just somewhere where there are crowds of people.

    This is all about being seen to do something, rather than actually doing anything useful.

  • Comment number 96.

    Thoughts of someone who flies many times a year …

    We are told that we cannot take small nail scissors on board flights yet many airlines give you reasonably sharp metal cutlery and breakable glasses and bottles once in flight, whiclt many shops sell Swiss Army knives, etc. which you can take on board without further search. Can anyone spot the mistake here?

    The strip search we currently have recently failed to find a penknife, which was mistakenly left in my coat pocket from a Scout weekend. Sharp as a beach ball, eh?

    I'm made to remove my shoes and belt supposedly as not to set off the metal detector yet my large, heavy metal watch has no effect on it. Nice to see that’s working well.

    Most of our airports have a ‘one bag through security’ rule, yet I can buy as many pieces of luggage, hold-alls, bags of duty free or fashion bags as I like, once past the (usually) aggressive and insouciant strip search. Clearly there is no barrier to taking whatever you like on board, as long as you've bought it in the airport that day.

    I'm not allowed to take more than 100ml of after shave, etc. through security yet I can buy (and take on board) as much as I can afford/carry. Do you think that this could be another commercially advantageous decision? Surely not.

    One large (airside) pharmacy at a major airport sells products and materials which are supposed to be prohibited in flight. Anyone else not get this, or is it just me?

    Aside from commercial gain dressed up as security, many airport operations are ideas which have been badly (or not) thought through and are poorly executed.

    Because of this, other than travelling for business, I do not fly. Nor do I buy anything at all in the airport, out of principal and I make sure to tell them this every time I fly. If we all did this they would have to change their behaviour. If you do nothing, don’t complain about what treatment you get.

  • Comment number 97.

    Security checks take whatever joy there was in flying right out of it. Having to arrive three hours early because they want to probe me for a while is a joke.

    I do not believe that my half drunk 500ml bottle of coke is a danger to other passengers nor are my shoes...

    Can you imagine if we had to go through this for other types of transport? Metal detectors when you step on buses? Invasive searches before being allowed on a train?

  • Comment number 98.

    The liquid regulations will never be lifted. My flights are usually for long weekends away with friends (stag parties, birthdays etc), meaning I have no need for anything more than hand luggage. But I can't take my bottles of shower gel etc with me, so I have to buy those little bottles instead. A nice little earner for toiletries companies. My first couple of trips, I bought a bottle of water at the airport while I was waiting around, but had to chuck half of it away since they wouldn't let me take it on board. So then you have to buy any refreshments on board at inflated prices.

    The liquid restrictions are too lucrative for too many people. They're here to stay, unfortunately. As for taking off my shoes, belt and jacket - how about next time I just turn up in my pants and socks? Will that help move things along quicker?

  • Comment number 99.

    I travelled through Newark Airport with my family in 2008. There were 5 of us; my wife and 3 kids.

    When I handed over the passports I left my wife's by mistake in my bag and only handed over 4. The passport controller (in an argument at the time with his female boss over not getting a lunch break) checked them and handed them back, letting us through. I saw he only had given me 4 and went back to ask for the other one, thinking he had it. He got all stroppy and said he didn't have it. Female boss got very stroppy too. I looked in my bag and realised I hadn't given it to him in the first place. We had a wee chat about it and it turned out that he had waived us through thinking the picture of my 2yo daughter was my wife and that the 2yo did not need a passport!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This was NEWARK! Get the basics right people!

  • Comment number 100.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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