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June 26, 2007

Security Checks at London Airport and My Longest Flight

I like travelling but I don't like long flights. Our flight to US (Doha-London Gatwick-Atlanta-Austin) took us 24 hours (including airport time). We took the 1:30 AM Qatar Airways flight to LGW where we had two hours transit time to catch our Delta flight to Atlanta Georgia. We disembarked at the South terminal and Delta is in the North Terminal, so we had to take airport shuttle to transfer. It was a long walk from the disembarkation gate to the transfer shuttle pick-up point. Two hours is just enough to get to our next boarding gate; I didn't even have time to wash my face and brush my teeth!!!

Before going to the transfer desk, our passports were checked. For some reason, my supposedly machine readable visa, can't be recognized so information has to be typed-in manually. We were also informed of the one carry-on bag per person policy at the the security check. From the Delta counter, we got our boarding passes for our onward flights up to Austin.

In this trip, I learned that if you have a domestic connection flight, you need to go through immigration at the first point of landing in the US. So, in Atlanta, we went through the immigration to stamp our passports. We also collected our luggage (how weird!) only to be dump again in the collection counter.

I was a bit nervous at the immigration counter because we might be refused entry since we are coming from the middle east or for any other reason.

Overall, it was a smooth journey except for some minor glitches. Here are some reminders to travellers with connecting flights and those transiting in London.

Liquid and Creams
Banning of liquid and creams started in Europe following the incident in London where liquid explosives were smuggled in carry-on bags. I think, right now, the ban is already being implemented in most airports worldwide. If you have a connecting flight, refrain from buying liquid items at Duty-free store because during transfers, security checks wouldn't allow any liquids even if you bought it from the duty-free shop in your previous flight segment. It's good, I didn't buy any liquids from Doha Duty-free, otherwise, they would probably be confiscated. In London, they also require make-up including pressed powder, lipstick, etc. to be in a resealable transparent bag.

One Carry-on Bag Policy
London Airport allow only one carry-on bag per person. I repeat - just one! Otherwise, you'll have to check-in one of them. I am really surprised because I never heard of this requirement in any other Airport. We were not informed about this when we checked-in in Doha.

We had a little problem because I have two bags - my laptop bag and my personal bag, which is normal for passengers bringing their laptop. Obviously, I cannot check-in any of my bags. Another problem is I bought some sweets from Doha duty-free so I had a third bag. It's good that my husband used his trolley-type carry-on bag with laptop sleeve so he only had one bag (Yep, we bought two laptops). We had to re-arrange our stuff to fit everything into two bags.

I am not a fan of trolley-type carry-on with laptop sleeve but in this case, I realized it's a better alternative. I am thinking of buying one for me so that I will only need one bag when travelling even if I am not transiting in London ;)

Other Security Checks
Be prepared to remove your shoes, belt, coins, coat, watches every time you go through a security check. All these are passed through the x-ray. Laptops are also required to be taken out of the bag.

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