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Security at airports is handled a little differently in foreign countries.  Be prepared for heavily armed guards in some locations and  lax security in other.  Our article provides simple recommendations to help speed you on your way.  


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Travel Advice/Travel Tips -  Airport security outside of the U.S. – a little different

If you are looking for information on the airport security rules announced in the United States and the United Kingdom in August and September of 2006 regarding carry-on luggage, we describe them here.

The level of airport security around the world varies from that found in the U.S., so don’t be surprised to find security more obvious and intrusive in some countries and less formal in others. While everyone seems to know some unusual tale of extreme security, you need simply note that you are a visitor and should comply with the host country's requested security inspection procedures. After all, security programs are designed to protect you.


In general, airports in Europe and the UK have significantly more obvious security than U.S. airports, especially for international flights. It is not uncommon to see armed guards in some airports accompanied by squads of police and  security teams armed with automatic rifles, clothed in combat gear, seemingly, ready for a pitched battle.

The attitude at security checkpoints is very serious and joking about security is not tolerated.

  • You will find your journey delayed if you criticize the process.
  • Alarms at metal detectors are responded to with great seriousness.
    • Whenever there is the slightest doubt about safety, the security team will error on the side of prudence.
    •  If you or your luggage has set off alarms, be prepared for a pat-down search.

In areas where terrorism is common, such as the Middle East, security is even tighter.

  • The check-in procedures include the scanning of your bags, interrogations concerning you, your bags, and where both of you have been during your journey.
  •  If you ask too many questions about the search procedure or make disparaging remarks, you will find yourself in a new line for an additional search.
  • Be prepared for very comprehensive searches.

On a return trip from a Middle Eastern country, I witnessed a man from Norway set off the metal detector due to what he claimed was a surgical steel screw in his leg. He was prepared for this problem and showed the security team what he represented as x-rays of his leg and the surgical screw. When the security guards examined the x-rays, they replied, that they had no way of knowing whether these were x-rays of his leg. As a consequence, he was told to drop his trousers, right there, and the security team examined the scarring on his leg before letting him proceed through security.

Tight security can make lines move more slowly but the security team will see to it that everyone boards the plane. In these days of high security, it is a good idea to arrive at the airport as early as suggested by your airline. The old days, of hurdling suitcases after arriving at the airport thirty minutes before your flight, are gone.

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