Heya, this isn’t really for my normal audience but here are my notes on flying thru Heathrow during this current security crackdown. This is based on my flight of Friday August 11th 2006, the rules may have changed while I was flying or tomorrow or who knows when, but some of this wasn’t very clear to people so I thought I would put my notes up.
- The advice I had was to arrive early, but once at the airport I was not allowed into the terminal to check in until my flight was called two hours before the scheduled take off, this meant waiting outside in the parking garage in a large crowd for hours for me. I recommend you try to arrive just before the two hour mark, there was no benefit at all to being earlier.
- Everything really, really must go in the checked bags until you pass thru security. This means no books, magazines, cell phones, non-prescription medicine etc. I saw a huge stack of book and cell phones by security and big bag of medicines, combs, pens and what not further on.
- Once you are thru security you can buy some items in the shops, but if you are on a US flight as I was you will be searched again and any electronics or liquids will be taken away. I bought some magazines and some cards for my son and had no trouble, but you can only do this once you have passed thru security and are in the waiting area, not while you are in the check-in terminal.
- Everyone I dealt with today was good natured and trying to do their best. This runs from the airlines staff from British Airways who were great today, to the airport folks out in the parking area, to the security folks. Everyone was great, but it really helps if you are ready for them and watch what is happening rather than waiting until you are at a counter and then try to figure out the rules.
- If you flying from the UK to the US there was no green lane to go thru customs, all bags were being searched. This was quick, but it was complete, everything was looked at and questioned.
The flight today was by far the biggest hassle I have had flying since September 11th, that said, it didn’t take that much longer than normal even with all the extra security. Again, I expect them to look to lower the hassle, but it may not be quick so if you are flying particularly to or from the UK be prepared, travel light and keep your sense of humor.
Update: Here is an article on the new rules in the US. They are a bit more complicated than the UK rules, but more permissive than the ones I flew under last Friday. Here is an article on the situation in the UK, the rules seem to be the same but less flights being allowed.
Updated Again: Security level in the UK lowered, but not until Tuesday the 15th, 2006.
With the reduction in the threat level, the Department of Transport said passengers would be allowed to carry a single, briefcase-sized bag aboard aircraft, and that books, laptop computers and iPods would be permitted again. However, Heathrow and other major airports said they would not adopt the relaxed regulations until Tuesday.