Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Top security: Heathrow? JFK? O'Hare? Schiphol? No, it's ...

 ... Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides. The West Highland Free Press reported on the increased security presence and controls at the main airport in Lewis:

"A tiny clear bottle of perfume, much less than 100ml, was seized from another woman who was also soon shoe-less.

Small tins of Vaseline were coming in for extra special attention. Obviously highly dangerous, they could not be taken on board unless they were carried in a special see-through plastic bag which must somehow render the dangerous tins incapable of exploding. The special bags have to be purchased for 20 pence. How enterprising.

Suddenly it was my turn. Fortunately I wasn’t carrying perfume or Vaseline. My bag raised no questions. Amazingly, the two black puddings I had bought in Charlie Barley’s triggered no alarms.

Stornoway Airport was not in a state of High Alert that day. These are apparently the normal, everyday security measures at one of the smallest airports in the country. No one, it seems, is safe from the most intrusive security checks I have come across in Europe. I have been told a baby’s nappy was opened recently to check its contents. I hope this story is not true. If it is, this is surely a rare form of insanity."

Yep, security is very tight at airports such as Stornoway. The same goes for Benbecula airport, where I've done the shoe removing thing, had bags searched, demonstrated that various devices are real, and undergone several other trials (thankfully non involving a latex glove and intimate inspection). Not really a problem (and it's better to be safe), and it hasn't delayed a flight. Despite travelling to 38 countries, and flying to American not long after 9/11, Benbecula is the only airport where I've had an item confiscated.

However, I do have severe sympathy for whoever has landed the job of checking the contents of babies nappies. After the last trip to the mainland, a turbulent ride where the seatbelts were on the whole trip, the air conditioning didn't seem to work and a baby obviously did a "full load" just as we were taking off, I can verify that global greenhouse gases do not hold a candle to what a Hebridean baby can produce at the most inconvenient of times.

1 comment:

  1. In a past life, I used to do a hellish amount of international travel, for a textile chemical company. I'd regularly be flying to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand etc with a case full of bags of white powder.Never once was I stopped, checked, frisked etc.Almost every time we fly from Stornoway, we have to go through the bag checking procedure.