We arrived at Frankfurt Airport in a particularly busy period, enroute from Prague to Rome.
Unbeknown to us, there’d apparently been a security scare.
Baggage checks were more stringent than ever and the metal detectors were sounding almost constantly.
Our incoming flight had been slightly delayed and we were in a bit of a hurry to catch our connection.
Frankfurt is a huge airport, covering 2,000 hectares of land and we knew there was quite a walk between its two terminals. It’s also the fourth busiest airport in Europe, behind London, Paris and Istanbul.
However, we were making great time through the complex and all was good until Sue reached the metal detector.
Lights flashed; the alarm beeped and Sue was asked to step through again.
No big deal. It happens.
Sue walked back and promptly set it off again. And again – despite turning her pockets inside out this time to show they were empty.
It doesn’t take much to cause a bottleneck at airport security, particularly at one as big and busy as Frankfurt. By now, the throngs of travellers were getting restless.
A German airport officer took a nervous look at the build-up of people pressing toward the gates and asked Sue to step aside for a check with a hand wand.
The result was the same, as she vigorously explained that the culprit was probably wire in her bra.
No luck with the explanation. The officer, by now obviously panicking at the delay this was causing, pointed Sue to an adjoining area, where pat-down body searches were carried out.
She wasn’t alone. At least one other woman was on this ‘Group W’ bench – also attempting to explain about underwire bras.
Finally, a female officer arrived on the scene and patted down both women, before agreeing that the bras were probably at fault.
We moved on, but the whole incident had taken almost 30 minutes, which forced us to sprint along the corridors to our boarding gate – arriving moments before the doors were closed.
Later, we read that – despite many incidents like this – both airports and airlines are generally slow to be convinced that wire in under-garments can set off metal detectors.
Our take on it: obviously the sensitivity of detectors can be adjusted as needed. We’ve seen people wearing jewellery walk through untroubled.
But, it would be good to hear an explanation by manufacturers of these machines. Perhaps they’ll talk if we make them empty their pockets into a little tray.