Flying Thru Heathrow During This Crack Down

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


5 thoughts on “Flying Thru Heathrow During This Crack Down”

  1. We, of course, will be flying with a 2 yr old on 3 successive flights over 20+ hours next weekend, and I have to say I’m dreading it. I don’t care about anything for me, but the idea of flying without story books, crayons, or any toys is horrendous, not to mention toddler dietary preferences. When I flew in the US just after 9/11 (Denver to BWI for Chort & Paula’s wedding) I didn’t have too much trouble, but then it was just me.

  2. Good luck to Alice, Chris and Zach!
    I think the current restrictions are for England to USA in particular, but I guess all international flights will have tighter security.

  3. Stacey is right, unless New Zealand is feeling particulary nervous you will probably not be heavily impacted. In the US the only new rules are the crack down on bringing on liquids, like shampoo, or gels, like toothpaste. They must be in the checked bags. Otherwise you can still carry on bags as normal. The UK is the only place I am aware of with the full no carry on rules.

  4. My father just returned back from Stockholm today. He left yesterday morning from Stockholm on British Air through Heathrow and said in addition to the usual screening in Stockholm they were all taken out and re-screened at Heathrow to get to the gates and then again to get on the plane. Once the plan departed from the gate, it was held up for another hour or so while a thorough review of passenger manifests (and passports) was conducted again.

  5. Mine wasn’t that bad, it was just a rescreening as we went down the ramp. They checked bags pretty closely, but again if you paid attention to what they are looking for it was pretty quick. I did read today that they are cancelling more flights, after the company that runs the airport, BAA asked them to. This could actually get worse in the coming days for travel thru the UK.

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