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Serious Security Issues at Heathrow - Read before you go

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Huntington Beach...
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Serious Security Issues at Heathrow - Read before you go

I highly recommend skipping this airport if at all possible. I have traveled around the world and recently found this airport very scary. I was there 3 days over the last 10 days during stops in transit and here is what I experienced (mind you one stop was prior to the fog related problems which only added to the horror):

1. Most long lines are at the FRONT of the airport at check in and the beginning. When you start to recoginize the amount of people before you even get through the NUMEROUS security check points, you realize you are more in danger on the front side rather than the back side.

2. The lines or ques move very slow due to severe understaffing at airline counters and security.

3. Once through security (who we found more rude and frightening than any other employees we experienced at Heathrow) in Terminal 3 - the international terminal, you are farmed into one main area holding point. They do not give out the gate numbers until your plane boards - so you are sitting with 10 to 20 + other flights waiting for your gate number. Again - not really understanding the safety in this other than you have to get through security to get there. With thousands of people in one place - it just didnt seem right.

4. If you see news of delays becausce of fog or whatever - DONT GO. They will put you in a tent outside with thousands of other people all waiting for their flights too. NOT SAFE people.

Heathrow should be a prime example to many other international airports of what NOT to do. There own security defeats the purpose of safety from terrorism. Terrorist dont need to get on the plane when they have access to thousands of people waiting to get through security and other long lines for check in and ticketing.

London
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1. Re: Serious Security Issues at Heathrow - Read before you go

British security is based on stopping the terrorists before they get to the airport, as has been proved on a number of occasions. Heathrow is the busiest international airport in the world and when things go wrong people get backed up rather quickly. I’m not sure what you do when more people turn up, then can be safely held in a building. When T5 opens I’m sure that will help for a while.

I don’t understand what makes Heathrow unsafe compared to any other major international airport.

In regard to what terrorists need to do, Britain has a pretty good understanding of how they operate and blowing up planes is just one of a plethora of scenarios that has to be factored in when organising public places.

The terrible atrocity of 9/11 did not happen because of long lines.

Bingley, United...
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2. Re: Serious Security Issues at Heathrow - Read before you go

How is waiting in a tent "NOT SAFE" compared to waiting inside a building?

Dunfermline, United...
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3. Re: Serious Security Issues at Heathrow - Read before you go

Sorry, but I must disagree with your opinion of Heathrow. Whilst I personally try to avoid it because it is so busy, it happens to be one of the most secure airports in the world.

As for rude and frightening security, I guess you have never been through JFK or Boston.

It's a busy airport, it will get lots of passengers and when it gets hit by fog or some other annoyance there will inevitably be no room inside the terminals. We just deal with it as calmly as possible.

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: Serious Security Issues at Heathrow - Read before you go

BAA, the company that operates LHR, usually do a decent job of running that massive business, but when things go pear-shaped, it can be unnerving.

I'm not sure why you would think you were 'more in danger on the front side' (I presume you mean landside rather than airside, ie after Security). There are numerous CCTV cameras in all four terminal buildings, as well as both uniformed and plain clothes police officers on patrol. Very little goes on in the terminal buildings that is not observed by BAA personnel.

Queues at Security can be lengthy - this is one of my major gipes with LHR. BAA claim they have hired more staff and are working to get them trained and on the job, but far too often I've seen two of four xray machines staffed - which is really annoying. BAA - get busy and get more staff on board pdq.

For the most part (say, nine out of ten trips through Security) I've found the process more low key and polite at LHR than at YVR and other airports. Am not sure what you mean by a 'holding area' - isn't that just the massive Departures area, airside? Although gate numbers are usually not posted until 30 or 40 minutes before a flight's scheduled departure time, the airline info desks often have the information, if pax ask.

Having to keep pax in marquees outside the terminal buildings is far from ideal, but little else can be done if weather is inclement - pax often come from outside London and have nowhere else to go, and must stay close to the terminal buildings. Pax still need to be screened at Security before going airside, and those processes will be the same no matter how great the number of travellers.

I don't mind going through LHR, either as a transit or O&D pax. I do feel very safe when there, and am grateful that the Security measures aren't overly intrusive. Now, if only all the xray machines could be staffed........

Huntington Beach...
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5. Re: Serious Security Issues at Heathrow - Read before you go

Here is the thing, it seems to me that terrorist have access to greater numbers of people who are waiting in line rather than 100-200 people on one plane. That is the point about how tents and lines full of thousands of people are more dangerous. It really defeats the purpose of security if they can access more people who are waiting in the front of the airport whether it be fog or security.

Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: Serious Security Issues at Heathrow - Read before you go

Having been thru Heathrow and LAX numerous times (including LHR during the last terrorist fiasco) I would prefer to go thru LHR anyday. ( I too have travelled extensively)

WHY? Because everyone gets treated the same way. LAX was a joke. The only Randoms were non US citizens...and yet in almost every terrorist attack the perpetrators have been residents of that country ..mmmm

You are also making an assumption that because you couldn't see security it wasn't there....you can bet there were a number of security people among the hundreds waiting in the tents and around the shops and in the departures halls, watching the behaviour of all and sundry. Secruity doesn't need to be obvious to be effective.

Based on your post we should never go anywhere crowds gather so the terrorists will win...noone can watch changing of the Guard at Buck palace, queue for the Eiffel Tower, Times Square or Sydney Harbour on NYE

Watford
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7. Re: Serious Security Issues at Heathrow - Read before you go

I really must politely disagree with the OP. I have always felt (whether I am meeting people there or flying from) Heathrow to be far safer and more security conscious than any American airport. I appreciate things have changed since 9/11 but until that time I recall US airports as being places where anyone could wander around at will and even today many terminals seem to attract all and sundry whereas Heathrow (for all it's faults) seems to be limited to those working there and those actually travelling or meeting travellers.

Our main airports (Gatwick is the same) are different to US ones in that they are designed to get you through security as soon as you are checked-in with a large central area airside with shops and eating places (BAA want you to spend money) plus stacks of screens indicating which gate your flight will depart from and when to go there.

San Francisco...
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8. Re: Serious Security Issues at Heathrow - Read before you go

"get through the NUMEROUS security check points"

how many exactly? might have felt like several but I'd lay money on it being less then 2!

don't confuse security with check in, immigration and boarding! each doing a different but important job.

When it's busy any bottleneck can feel like a nightmare.

As for the staff look closer to home. A more humourless bunch than those manning US desks I have yet to meet!

chill out and travel safe!

Bingley, United...
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9. Re: Serious Security Issues at Heathrow - Read before you go

redheada, I ask again how is standing in a tent less safe than standing in a building?

If a bomber wished to kill 200 people they wouldn't need people standing outside, they'd go indoors and blow themselves up - which BTW is MUCH more dangerous what with flying debris like glass

I bet that EVERY large airport in the US has queues somewhere - how about when stripping for the pleasure of the TSA, plenty of opportunity to kill people there.

Or are you suggesting that people should be checked before entering the airport - but that just moves the queues elsewhere.

Face it ANYWHERE where there is a queue (or just lots of people) - football match, cinema, theatre, Harrods Sale, Wimbledon, night club etc is a potential target if the purpose is to kill lots of people.

somewhere out there
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10. Re: Serious Security Issues at Heathrow - Read before you go

Comntrary to what the current US administration tells us: terrorists don't really want to kill lots of people--that's easy--they want to frighten and to have maximum impact on infrastructure--hence the 9/11 attacks which stopped air traffic for three days; the Madrid bombings which stopped rail traffic at a busy rail port; and the London bombings which brought certain tube lines to a halt for weeks.

Let's remember that on 9/11 it wasn't airline or airport security that failed it was our govenment's lack of interest in the possibility of terrorism that failed.

Heathrow is a safe airport--it's one of the world's busiest and therefore suffers from over use; the new security measures have slowed the processing of passengers to a crawl on busy days. The "holding areas' you mention are beyond security where only ticketed passengers have access.

I do agree that LHR is a miserable airport and suggest flying into another airport on another occasion.

As to being treated badly: try being a non-American trying to have a vacation in the US, you are treated like a criminal not someone who is there for vacation and to spend money.

I am American and have been treated with suspicion by TSA when re-entering my own country!!