Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Rules of the Game

Yesterday, members of my family flew from Spain to Heathrow and then on to Aberdeen. When you fly into Heathrow and are going on to catch another flight, you have to go through the security screening procedure for transferring passengers. This is what happened.

The man immediately in front of them in the queue was Asian in appearance. He had a small glass bottle of Coke from Japan in his luggage. The security person informed him that he could not take the bottle onto his onward flight. He explained that it was a gift for his son and that it had not been opened; the metal cap was demonstrably still in place. The security person was unimpressed. After a polite discussion, the passenger realised that he was not going to get to take the bottle with him and threw it in the bin provided for this purpose. He wasn't amused and made a comment angrily in his own language. The security person then told him that if he said that again, the police would be "here in seconds".

"So what?" you say. "Those are the rules".

My family members then went through security. They are, unsurprisingly, white. In their luggage was an unopened bottle of gin bought in a Spanish supermarket (not an airport) a few days previously. After a brief discussion in which the security person asked if they had the receipt for the gin, they didn't, they were allowed to proceed with the bottle in their hand luggage. They then flew on to Aberdeen with the bottle.

Those are not the rules.

Next time someone suggests introducing racial profiling at our airports, this story, which I'm one hundred percent certain is correct, is one to consider.

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1 comment:

. said...

Ah, you see, he did it because he knew full well that it would be a sweet irony for a suicidal terrorist to use a bottle of sealed Coke to hold his liquid explosives in, a political act...

Depressing.