Summer of chaos ahead at airports across Britain

By Ray Massey, Daily Mail

Last updated at 10:27 02 July 2007


The scene at Glasgow airport yesterday as thousands of holidaymakers queued in the rain for flights

Tough new security measures were imposed at British airports yesterday which look certain to bring another summer of misery and delays for holidaymakers.

Cars have been banned from drop-off points at terminal forecourts, and all passengers are now to be frisked going through security.

Controversial ethnic "profiling" will be used to target high-risk suspects for greater scrutiny.

And armed sky marshals are being used on some transatlantic flights by U.S. airlines.

British Airways said it would not rule out having armed officers in exceptional cases, although it stressed that this was not the preferred option as "guns and planes don't mix".

Where security was an issue, it preferred to cancel flights.


Up to now, only a proportion of passengers have been searched after passing through the screening arch which detects for metal and also "sniffs" for chemicals linked to explosives.

Now, every passenger will be individually frisked and searched by hand by a member of security staff - with pockets, linings and collars checked - even though this is likely to lead to major delays.

Passengers who raise suspicion will be sent for a more thorough search.

Also, passengers who fit the ethnic, gender, and behavioural "profile" of suicide bombers will face greater scrutiny.

Young men and women of Asian appearance - and women in burqas - are likely to be more closely vetted than an elderly, white grandmother.

Airport bosses insist these checks will be undertaken "sensitively and respectfully" - with special areas set aside so that Muslim women can lift their veils to compare their faces with their passport photos, and be given the same patdown search given to all passengers.

"No one will be exempt from the security arrangements," said a BAA official.

Facial recognition cameras - which can pick out a suspect face in a crowd - are also being used to look for known suspects.

All hand baggage will be screened as normal by X-ray machine, though a far higher proportion is being searched by hand as well under the new rules.

Current rules on hand baggage remain in place.

British Airways advised passengers to check in three hours before take-off for long haul flights to destinations outside Europe and two-and-a-half hours before take-off for European flights.

The airports authority BAA insisted it hoped to keep queueing times from passport control to clearing security to around ten minutes, but admitted there could be longer delays at peak times.

It is feared they could be as much as an hour to 90 minutes.

Instead of dropping off passengers directly outside the terminal, drivers and taxis are being directed to the short-term car parks from where passengers will have to walk with their luggage to the terminal.


At Heathrow, armed officers oversee arriving passengers

Passengers are urged, where possible, to leave their cars at home and travel by public transport to avoid inevitable jams.

BAA's Spanish owners Ferrovial admitted they had planned in March to increase its 2,000-strong security staff by 400 to tackle snaking queues - but have recruited only half that number.

There was chaos last August after strict baggage regulations were introduced following the foiling of an alleged terrorist attempt to blow up planes, leading to delays in boarding and forcing British Airways to cancel around 1,200 flights.

British holidaymakers heading to the U.S. this summer can expect long delays on arrival after America responded to the latest British terror incidents in London and Glasgow by further tightening security.

It could take an hour to 90 minutes from British passengers to get through all of the arrival procedures, while those flying home from the U.S. should arrive at the airport as much as three hours before take-off.

At Heathrow and Gatwick yesterday, British Airways cancelled a dozen flights to and from Glasgow, while armed police were drafted in at many airports.

Some passengers at Scottish airports were stuck on planes for up to seven hours, while the ban on cars dropping passengers outside terminals led to long queues of traffic on the M23 near Gatwick and congestion around Edinburgh Airport.

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