The Consummate Traveler: Inconsistencies at the Security Checkpoint

BY Michele Goncalves TIMEJune 26, 2013 PRINT

In recent years, the rules and requirements for getting through airport security checkpoints have expanded and now somewhat contracted. For instance, those who are under 12 and over 75 years of age do not have to take off their shoes like the rest of us. 

As someone who travels all the time, I have perfected my technique for getting through security lines with ease. Therefore, I was caught off guard this past weekend during my journey to Scotland when my carry-on bag was “pulled over” at Heathrow Airport in the security line.

I followed my normal routine and removed my shoes, took out my laptop computer and whipped off my jacket. With confidence I walked through the metal detector and proceeded to put all my stuff and myself back together again on the other side. That is when I noticed that my second carry-on bag was taken from the conveyor belt and put off to the side. I stood there for at least 5 minutes puzzled by what was going on. 

I then noticed that at the end of the security belt there was a big table where a VERY thorough bag inspection was taking place. Every single article in these bags was being inspected and laid out on the table for all to see. I have never seen anything quite like this before. Needless to say, this process was taking forever.

After about 35 minutes of waiting patiently for my turn to arrive, my bag finally was up on the chopping block. I didn’t really understand why I was put through this search, until the inspection agent spoke the magic words, “Ah, you have an iPad, next time you must take it out and put it on the belt.” 

I had to mention to them that in every airport around the world I have ever traveled through; I was not required to take out my iPad like laptop computers. Well, at Heathrow in London, it is required.

While I had a two-hour wait before my connecting flight was to take off and didn’t mind the 40 minutes it took me to get through this process, others were not so lucky. Those standing with me, who found themselves in the same iPad conundrum, were sweating bullets, with some having less than 10 minutes to catch their flight. Needless to say, this inconsistent security requirement caught us all off-guard.

The moral of my story and the lesson is to make sure you take out your iPad, your Kindle, or any other electronic reader device you may have in every airport you go through to avoid this type of hold-up. This is especially the case if you have a short time to make another flight. 

As always, I wish you all the happiest of travels and the breeziest security queues.

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