Sunday, October 19, 2014

Complaint to Frankfurt Airport Security

From the Frankfurt Airport web site:

Information about entrainment of goods in the hand luggage or check-in luggage e. g. will be provided by the German Federal Police. The Federal Police will also deal with compliments and complaints concerning aviation security matters.

Criticism and suggestions 

The following was sent via email to both of the aforementioned email addresses:

On the evening of Monday, October 13, I came to Frankfurt airport with my husband for a 20:45 Aer Lingus flight to Dublin, Ireland. My husband and I began walking to our departure gate as soon as the gate information was posted on the announcement board. As we passed the first G gates, we noticed that all of the gates in that section were fully staffed with German security personnel, but were empty of travelers - the security staff was standing at their stations with nothing to do. However, when we got to the next set of G gates, we were shocked to see a line of more than 20 travelers extending out to the pedestrian walkway, because just one gate was open. We stood in line and our shock continued: just one staff member was addressing each traveler as they prepared their items for the x-ray machine, and he was oh-so-slowly picking up almost all of the items placed in bins for his own examination, while at least five other security staff stood around on the other side of the barrier, talking, sometimes laughing. We expected another line to open - there were plenty of security staff none too far away, with nothing to do - why hadn't anyone called even one group to come down and open a second line?

One security staff member spent most of our time in line trying to realign one of the barrier doors. She spent a long time trying to adjust the door - which looked perfectly fine as it was, was in no one's way, and no one was trying to go through it, as it was almost entirely closed. We learned later she was the security staff supervisor - she really though moving a door five inches was more important than shifting staff from the other gate section to here?

At long last, it was my turn to go through the security line. As an experienced international travel, I know how to place my items in different bins and onto the conveyor belt quickly and appropriately, and how to ensure I have nothing on my person that might set off the x-ray alarm. The one security staff member that was speaking with customers in line slowly went through my items, then asked me if I had any liquids. "Right there" I said, pointing to my already unpacked back of cosmetics. "Oh, okay" he said, lethargically moving my items closer to the machine. I stood in front of the body x-ray machine, waiting to be told to walk through. The security staff on the other side were having a chat together, both leaning on different machines, having a nice, casual evening. Finally, one glanced up and waved me through. As no alarms went off, I walked to retrieve my things that had gone through the x-ray machine, and as I reached for my watch, a security guy grabbed the tray that held it and tried to shove it away from me further down the belt. I grabbed the tray and said, "Excuse me." Then reached down for my watch. He looked at me and said, "Do you have a computer?" I said I did. "I'll need to do a security check on it." Then he pointed to a computer coming through the conveyor belt. "This is your computer?" I said no, and saw that my computer, in its tray, had already been shoved down to the far end of the belt. "That's mine down there" I said. He smirked and said, "You will wait here, and I will get someone to check it." Note: he did not see a suspicious computer and decide to check it - he was ready to test someone else's computer merely because he thought it was mine. He was doing this test only because I had annoyed him. He then turned away from me and began talking and joking with a colleague. I said, "Excuse me, but could I know your name please?" He smirked and looked away. I tried to see his identification badge, and when he saw me looking, he tucked it into his shirt so I couldn't see it, and he walked further away from me. After what seemed like a few minutes, I said, "Excuse me, but I have a flight to catch, and I will miss it if I stay here much longer," He turned to me, smirked, and said, "Yes, I'm getting someone." Until then, he had made NO effort to find someone to do this suddenly-needed computer check - a check he had decided to do NOT based on the look of the computer, but because he did not like me. He called out for someone and, finally, a person came walking up and I was directed to go with him to another room so he could check my computer. I told that person as we walked that I wanted to speak to a supervisor and I wanted to file a complaint. He seemed very apologetic.

My computer was checked, and then a supervisor was brought. I was stunned to see it was the woman who had spent so much time trying to move the door instead of shifting completely unoccupied staff to the crowded security line. She didn't have a business card - or so she said - and took a few minutes to finally find a brochure that she said I could fill out and give to her. Knowing that the brochure would most likely end up in the trash rather than be given to anyone, I chose to write this email instead.

I never yelled. I never used inappropriate language. I never tried to distract anyone from doing their job. I followed all security staff instructions immediately. I was in no way at fault this night.

We proceeded to our gate, we sat down, and within 5 minutes, probably less, our flight was called to board.

Everyone on staff that night at the security gate line in Frankfurt deserves to be reprimanded for their unprofessional behavior. By being more focused on their own amusement and on inconveniencing travelers and taking punitive action against someone who dared to speak out, they took their focus off of doing what should be their job: ensuring we are all safe to travel. The behavior of your staff that night was shameful.

I hesitate to send this email, as I am flying again from Frankfurt soon, and I know that it will be within the power of the Frankfurt airport security staff to complicate my future travel based on my making this complaint. So I am also posting this to my public travel blog, and will be blogging about any further unprofessional behavior on the part of Frankfurt security staff I encounter, so that the public can see for themselves if this email results in further negative behavior on your part.

I also want to add that the Dublin, Ireland security check point staff was friendly, efficient and very professional in their approach, in stark contrast to the Frankfurt airport. I not only felt happier after I left that check point, I felt safer - and passenger safety is what should be the priority of your staff. Based on what I witnessed, it is not.


  1. I am just now at frankfurt airport terminal a and security is appalling. They are slowing things down on purpose, a little chat here, moving as slow as they possibly can. If I did my job like that I' d be fired a long time ago.almost missed my flight and the guy even told me he doesn't give a damn. Anyone with similar experience?

    1. Airport staff are rude. It looks like they have no idea about customer service and good manners in general. Toilets at the gates are dirty. Staff at the gates are rude.Bumbling and rude security personnel.The whole place is a total mess.

  2. Rude staff. My ears were blocked and I had a hard time hearing the girl. Thought she asked me if I spoke English and she was asking if I had luggage. She immediately dismissed me and went over to her coworkers and laughed out loud repeating my answers and laughing at me. I could not believe a staff member would act like that. Appalling!

  3. This post is from 2014, but today I experienced almost the exact same when transferring to a connecting flight in terminal 1, area A. Security staff was unprofesional, rude, slow and doing excessive checks for no aparent reason. Almost missed my flight because of it.