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airport security searches when pregnant

(9 Posts)
KatyS36 Fri 05-Jun-09 17:09:02

Hi all,

Can anyone offer advice? I flew out to Portugal when 16 weeks pergnant (with obvious bump). At Edinburgh airport, after setting off the alarm) I didn't specifically say to security I was pregnant and got a really hard shove in the stomach when she searched me, which was both painful and upsetting. On protesting she just shouted at me that 'I didn't tell her I was pregnant'. When we complained to the supervisor we were told that we should have said and pregnant woman were searched in private.

Coming back from portugal, I mentioned it to the security lady, who just calmly said it didn't matter, but was considerably more gentle.

So, anyone got any advice / experience? I've always considered that annoying these people doesn't help (I a bit worried that saying I'm pregnant would be taken as 'comething to hide'). Plus what does a 'private search' involve, when you are pregnant and have merely set off an alarm?

I'm flying again ina few weeks so am a bit worried.

PS I suspect it is my wedding ring, which I'm not prepared to take off and put in a tray, or my underwired bra, so I can't avoid the machine going ping

browntrout Fri 05-Jun-09 17:27:06

I think anybody would have grounds for complaint if they were given a really hard shove in the stomach - I have never had this experience and always set the alarm off with my underwired bra. I think that the problem there is in relation to the individual member of staff.
As to there being a private area for searching pregnant women ... never happened to me during my first pregnancy and wouldn't especially want it TBH. The usual reaction to the alarm going off is a rub down search over the top of your clothing. I can't see why I would want more privacy than other people just because I have a bump. However, if you are sensitive to being searched (I am a regular court attendee through work and so it happens to me on a weekly basis) then maybe you should tell them before they start.

Queenoftheharpies Fri 05-Jun-09 17:29:47

Your baby is pretty well-protected, so tbh I wouldn't worry about that (assuming you're not experiencing any other symptoms). You've presumably got a scan coming up which will set your mind at ease hopefully.

That said, the airport staff shouldn't be shoving anyone! I fly a lot for work and have never had anything like that.

I would complain to the airport, in writing.

KatyS36 Fri 05-Jun-09 17:38:22

Thanks guys.

I (used) to be a frequent flyer, so searches never really bothered me. It's just the underside my bump is really sensitive.

I've always gone for the totally neutral look when passing through (especially if the alarm doesn't go off). Don't smile at them, don't look harrased and I've never really had any problems.

It's just the 'rules' seemed to have all changed now. I was specifically told at Edinburgh that I should have told them, but I'm a bit concerned as to what happens then.

pippa251 Fri 05-Jun-09 17:43:22


I am a police officer and am trained in searching although i have never done it for air port security but i can't imageon it being massivley different- she should not have shoved you in the stomach irrespective if you are pregnant or not. The fact that she hurt use shows to me that she used an excessive use of force- I second the advice about complaining officially.

I have recently flown (and I am 35 weeks ) and had really good experience- please don't let this woman put you off / make you afraid of flying or being searched in the future.

as for letting them know you are pregnant- if you are bviously showing I'd just start talking to my travel companion about my due date but you won't get any extra grief by saying it. They will probably be more cautious about the search as they wont want to hurt you.

I'm really sorry you had that experience

georgiemum Fri 05-Jun-09 17:56:08

They should not lay hands on you. Complain and ask to speak to HR too. Threaten to complain to the media. That usually gets some action.

When I set off the alarms I usually know what the offending item is and point it out (usually a belt buckle) and they either ask me to take it off or sweep over it with the handheld wand.

Carry a copy of a baby magazine!

monkeybumsmum Fri 05-Jun-09 21:09:00

Hi Katy,

That really is unacceptable that you were shoved in the stomach, you poor thing. Even if you hadn't been pregnant that should absolutely not have happened angry

As far as advice goes, I always told one of the people at security that I was pregnant, and they allowed me to pass by the machine that you walk through (can't remember the name) and then a lady would search me, which has always just consisted of me standing there with my arms outstretched, them doing a 'pat-down' and then using their metal detector. I know that going through the machine is probably fine, but from each +ve pregnancy test I have avoided it. I have had a few strange looks when I've been 'just' pregnant - announcing pregnancy to a bunch of strangers while sporting a flat tum...

I wouldn't worry about drawing attention to yourself - if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about smile I usually smile at them, after all, it must be a pretty boring and thankless job watching thousands of people disappear off to exciting destinations while they're stuck there all day doing the same thing!

Good luck with your next trip, and don't be scared to speak up and spell it out to them if necessary. After all, you're carrying very precious cargo and deserve to be treated gently.

makipuppy Sun 07-Jun-09 17:53:50

I really think that must be a one-off, what a horrible woman.

I'm flying about once a week at the moment, at 29 weeks, and have covered most of the airports in Europe. Everyone has been lovely and most security staff ask me to bypass the scan gate thing (although sometimes this is not possible) and then give me the same pat down as everyone gets, which is pretty gentle.

If they don't offer to send you round the gate you can definitely ask.

I went through Portugal last week and the nice lady brought me a chair to sit on and helped me put my boots back on smile.

That said, I was been searched 'in private' once (not when pregnant and not at my request) and the lady pressed up my fanjo shock!

georgiemum Mon 08-Jun-09 12:40:37

That's it. I an never flying again.

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