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UK airports accused of profiting from security checks

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Page last updated: 18th Nov 2010 - 12:52 PM

In this age of tightened security at airports across the world, with new security threats emerging on a seemingly monthly basis to throw security checkpoints into chaos and provide travellers with the worst possible start to their time abroad, the last thing those using British airports need is more cause for delay. However, it would seem that, as travellers, that's exactly what we're getting, and for a reason based solely upon exploitation and greed.

A whistle-blower at London's Luton Airport has publicly accused authorities at that particular airport of deliberately encouraging staff manning security checkpoints to allow queues to grow longer, in the hope that passengers will choose to make use of fast-track security lanes, which can cost up to £5 per person.

Luton Airport introduced pay-as-you-go fast-track lanes last year and they have since been introduced in airports including Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, and Bristol. According to the whistle-blower in question, a policy was introduced prior to the start of the scheme at Luton which encouraged staff to make the queues move more slowly and to do whatever possible to try to create queues when traffic through the security checkpoints wasn't at a high level.

With travellers from the UK currently having to arrive three hours before their scheduled departure time to ensure they get through security in good time, these claims, if true, are simply unacceptable.

Although Luton have denied the accusations, there's no doubting that these claims have done further damage to an industry that could do without any further negative news.

Comments - 10

1. Mrs C Mulvaney

17th May 2011 - 12:58 PM

I was hoping to find some way to email the authorities at luton airport and found this article.
I am lodging a complaint about two things. First I object to paying extra to pass through security quicker..The organisation of security and boarding card checks, by the airport authority, should be able to cater for all the number of passenges passing through at any given time. The system you have is extremely inefficient ( or deliberate, as this article suggests). There should not be any need to install machines to pay to go through quicker..I object in principle to this! Your job is to ensure that you have adequate staff and security channels to cater for all your passengers!!!!
Secondly it is in connection with delays that I am complainimg specifically.....on Sunday afternoon I was shocked to find that there were queues from the stairs from the terminal to the boarding card check and hence onto security. These queues were not several people wide..so not just the lentth!!! I have never seen it so bad..Once through the boarding card check I realised that I may not catch my flight unless I went to the 'front' of the queue..another passenger catching the same flight went to talk with a security person..she said we had plenty of time...However much later and with less than 30 mins before our scheduled departure we were suddenly called to a position nearer the front!!

To add insult to injury a birthday gift, from my daughter to my husband, (We had arrived back from Turkey late the night before and had little sleep and didn't think to ask what the gift was) had to be left with security, as there was NO TIME to go back to check in my hand luggage, WHICH I WOULD HAVE DONE IF YOUR SECURITY HAD BEEN PROPERLY ORGANISED.
Your security chap also kept me waiting despite the fact that I told him I was worried I would miss my flight..and he could have been more helpful with offering to arrange someone to take me through to check-in and back again..but he did not. All he said was that I could check the hand luggage in or leave it behind..I said there was no time to go to check-in..I'd already told him that!!
So what are you going to do about it? before it becomes national and international news what an inefficient authority you are..and then the pressure will really mount!!!!!

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2. Alan Toon

6th Sep 2011 - 12:13 PM

Nothing suprises me at greedy Luton airport.
They have more than doubled the on airport parking charges, they where never full before, some short sighted number cruncher. we travel from Luton 6 to 8 times a year but no more we will travel to Manchester where parking is reasonble priced

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3. ian booth

19th Nov 2011 - 04:19 PM

I too was looking for an address to complain when I found this site.
Today Nov 19th, my wife and I flew out of Luton airport. At security we were held up by very rude staff. My wife was wearing a thin T shirt with a short, cropped, thin woollen cardigan over it. The man on security insisted that she remove her cardigan. Other people around were not forced to remove their sweaters, pullovers etc. When she questioned this, she was told that she must remove it. The queue through the scanning machines were growing and almost all passengers bags were diverted for further checks. The same man on securiity then turned to me as I was removing my jacket and asked whether I had already taken off my belt... in the 5 seconds sincee arriving at the desk. He was very abrupt and downright rude.
Meanwhile, after the lady with baby at the front of our queue was forced to empty her baby's half drunk bottle of juice, which took several minutes while eeryone else waited, my wife was getting very cold and embarrassed by the effect of the cold. She had to ask twice, different staff, before a lady evetually agreed to pass her her cardigan back, which had already been scanned, but was waiting in the queue of further checks required.
Eventually, our luggage cleared security, my belongings had been held up while they wiped it with a tissue and tested the tissue for whatever.
Furthermore, the quality of the wiping test was pathetic. I watched closely as the probe holding the tissue was accidentally wiped along the desk where other people's belongigs had been placed previously and also along the side and bottom of the trays holding people's belongings.

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4. Steve Buckley

11th Aug 2012 - 12:41 PM

Between 20:35 pm and 21:10 pm on Friday the 10 th of August 2012 at Luton airport I had the unfortunate experience of being searched from top to toe after passing through the metal scanner. This is the second time this has happened to me in succession, first at Gatwick in May now at Luton. I am being targeted for racial and personal reasons. The security man who did the search said it is random. If it is random, then it is racist, because the majority of people who pass through the airport at Luton and elsewhere are usually white, British and non Muslim. Terrorists are Muslim and usually are of a middle eastern, North African and Asian complexion. I also stated to the man doing the search, that if I was black, this could have been considered a racist incident, because of the present and previous incidents. At this point, two black security guards called me racist for saying so and told me to grow. And threatened to prevent me from boarding the plane. I find their outbursts of a racial, abusive and threatening manner, because if they had been searched twice in succession, they also have the right to consider the search racist. Under these circumstances I demand an apology and compensation for the harrowing experiences and the offensive remarks I received which had a stressful and bad emotional effect on me which prevented from enjoying the experience of the day on that fateful day. 10/08/2012.

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5. michael sutton

3rd Oct 2013 - 09:11 PM

I came through a while back and security did`nt find my money belt which could have contained other things a part from my holiday money

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6. Fiona Macpherson

4th Jul 2014 - 05:40 PM

I would like to complain about the security at Luton airport. I made the mistake of not insisting on wheelchair assistance while going through security and hobbled through on my crutches to find that the "special assistance" line did not exist. I ended up jumping the queue as there was no way I could wait behind 300 passengers. To add insult to injury I was told that unless I paid £1 to buy a plastic bag for my toiletries, they would be confiscated. Talk about rip off Britain. I will not be using Luton airport ever again.

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7. Larry Flynn

6th Jul 2014 - 02:05 PM

It's as if some members of security screening staff have been injected with the obnoxious gene. Neither manners nor courtesy are employed by staff when engaging with members of the public who use this airport (and pay enough for it). Firmness and fairness has been replaced with ignorance and indifference. Perhaps senior management realize re-training would be a waste of time...and couldn't be bothered in any case.

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8. Larry Flynn

6th Jul 2014 - 02:08 PM

Congratulations on being Britain's worst airport!

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9. Shena Parry

14th Dec 2014 - 02:09 PM

flight number EZY2295, CHECK IN 06.00
I was going through the security procedure as usual, using the same plastic bags for liquids that I normally use on all flights with no problems. The security operator I dealt with was a woman of medium height and build with short brown hair with dyed red tones around age 40. She said my plastic bag was too big for the 50 - 100ml liquids I was carrying. She gave me a smaller plastic bag in which I couldn't get 5 small items into properly. I said to her 'for goodness sake why be so pedantic' she said thankyou for swearing at me. I was shocked and said since when has 'for goodness sake' been interpreted as swearing? It was obvious this woman was deliberately trying to pick an argument with someone, I left at that point and dealt with another operator who said my own plastic bag was OK to use. I would also would like to add before going through security the recorded instructions stated all liquids had to be displayed in a clear plastic bag. There was NO specification of the size the plastic bag had to be. My partner and I travel often and have never been treated like this. Where is the common sense? 99.9% of people are normal citizens wanting to comply but things seem to be made ultra difficult and stressful for them for no reason, I hope you can take these comments on board and act to keep things safe but use common sense and be more kind to normal citizens doing their best. I hope you can deal with the woman in question, most of us would be sacked for treating the general public in that way in our jobs. Thankyou for reading, I await your reply.

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10. Shena Parry

14th Dec 2014 - 02:24 PM

We got off the aircraft at around 20:15 on 12 December 2014 after a delay of nearly 6 hours. We were left locked inside the shuttle bus for nearly 15 minutes with no update on what was going on. Most of us were stood up, one man had to stand on a broken foot leaning on his wife because there was no wheelchair available. People were starting to panic because we were stuck with no way of getting off the bus and the heat was rising due to the crampted conditions. When we eventually got off the shuttle bus we were left queueing outside for further 10 minutes because the door to the terminal building was locked. What sort of establishment is this? we had been delayed for 6 hours then got treated like this on our return to Luton. One word .. DISGUSTING !!! I hope the people responsible are dealt with appropriately. I await your reply on this matter

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