Security Experience #3 of 3 Today


I am flying from Aberdeen, Scotland to Orlando, Florida today. Three flights and three passages through Security – in Aberdeen, London Heathrow and Newark.

This is the third in a diary of security experiences today to see what the similarities and differences are amongst security in different countries and different airports. Will it be the same, same? Or same but different?

Newark, 6:00pm edt

I was expecting the new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines and to see people going through the pat downs so much in the news this week. But I saw neither. What I did see were very long security lines. Considering it’s 6:00pm on a Thursday night, a busy night for business travelers heading home and Veteran’s Day holiday, this is not unrealistic.  It took 25 minutes from the time I got in line to when my shoes were back on.

The line snaked along slowly. I watched peoples’ faces as they crawled along. Most faces looked bored and lifeless, even when two or more people were traveling together and conversing. A few faces were actually smiling. They were all on their mobile phones probably texting or catching up on emails, maybe looking at photos of exotic places that they’re traveling to.

I digress . .. .

It got to be my turn for security. I did the same routine for the 3rd time today (2 laptops, liquids, shoes). All went through fine and the Kindle, spotted immediately in Aberdeen as an electronic in my bag, didn’t get a second glance in Newark. I walked through the old style scanning machine and put myself and my stuff all back together again. Off to my gate I go.

So what did I learn today?

  1. The smallest airport has the most stringent list of items that had to come out of my laptop bag;
  2. Neither UK airport had mandatory shoe removal. Sneakers can usually stay on the feet (though my shoes had buckles, so I removed them at all airports).
  3. I expected London Heathrow to have the most stringent examination, and it was the easiest;
  4. I expected pat-down hysteria in Newark and that didn’t exist in the security area that I went through. And last but not least:
  5. Going through security 3 times in one day is crazy! I wonder if I’ll glow in the dark tonight from all the radiation?




  1. In the last year, I’ve been through security in the UK, South Africa, Germany, France, Switzerland, Denmark and the US. It’s only in the US where I have been required to take my shoes off. So the TSA stooges are the exception on this one. I would also add they are invariably the rudest.

    The oddest thing to happen was a trip to Copenhagen from which I was bringing back some lovely black candles I’d bought, wrapped in tissue paper. This caused a huge amount of excitement and, subsequently, amusement in the security area.

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