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Beware the Customs Officer...or Pretend Passenger !!

Well, while we’re on the subject British Airways I think accidentally-on-purpose "lost" my suitcase when I arrived just in time for a flight back to Poland..take off was five minutes away and I’d packed my Playstation…the X-Ray machine saw all manner of wires and PCB’s to which the official said he’d "put it in the boot" ( of the plane I presume).

Lo and behold we arrived at Warsaw airport minus my suitcase and I was issued with a an overnight emergency pack by LOT Airways ( toothbrush, soap, toothpaste, towel, comb, pair of socks & underpants – how cute !)

The following day my case arrived to my Polish home address by courier as if my magic…mmmm……

Wakefield, West Yorks.

I think I’d have been worried too.


Leh airport is at the opposite end of the scale to Punta Cana – Dominican Rep. The bag after mine set the alarm off on the scanner, to which the operator just shrugged his shoulders & let it through. It was only an internal flight but I was very glad when it was over. They seemed more efficient on international flights.

Essex UK

We’ve always played safe and never exceeded our allowance and if in doubt have always asked. We did get some funny looks when I declared two packets of Wild flower seeds and a pouch of dog food (present for son-in-laws dog) on the way back from New Zealand.

I know New Zealand and Chile are very tight on bio security – understandably so. Michael who is diabetic always carries a small pot of sultanas with him. We did declare them as we entered Chile as penalties for being caught if you don’t declare are heavy. They were confiscated. Apparently they would have been allowed if they had been smoked….

Security does vary a lot. Flying from Santiago to Calama we had to go through internal security. There was a woman taking a huge cream gateau on as part of her hand bagage.

At Sucre on an internal flight to La Paz. There was no attempt to screen bags but people were screened and then stopped as they waved a wand over us. We thought it must be a new toy.

In Tunis airport we had a 1.5l bottle of water which we carried through without anyone batting an eyelid.

India is one of the strictest places. Hand luggage has to be given a label at check in. I hadn’t got one on my stick and that caused all sorts of problems at security and I wasn’t allowed through until I’d got a label. If you set of the scanner as you walk through, which I always seem to manage, body searches are thorough. I’ve had to show contents of my body belt and purse and was then quizzed as to why there wasn’t any money in my purse (Michael had all our loose change).

Leh airport is even tighter. We were screened three times. Hand luggage had a security tape put round it and we were not allowed to take any hand luggage on the plane. I had to be very insistent to be allowed to keep my stick. They weren’t too happy about us keeping with us the folder with passports etc in. We then had to go and identify our luggage after it had been checked in and before it was loaded on the plane.


Thanks for sharing the tale, I’ll watch out for that.

My own experience was with airport Police. Passing security at Edinburgh Airport I was stopped by the Police with machine gun held across his chest & escorted to an adjacent room. Fearing the sound of marigolds being snapped onto a body searchers hands, I was relieved when the few seconds tension was alleviated by a polite request to scan my passport as part of a random passport check. Phew!

Essex UK

With ports throughout the world now becoming increasingly vigilant with passengers owing to the drug trade many on here I’m sure have stories to tell about random bag or maybe even body searches. Not just narcotics but foodstuffs, livestock and many other items fall under the customs remit. I’m sure many have seen the recent speight of TV documentries covering a day in the life of Border Control Officers. A relative of mine was stopped at Australian Passport Control for carrying Marvel (powdered milk) in her hand luggage
to whiten her in flight tea !

It’s worth knowing that many customs officers have more power than the average Police Constable including that of arrest. My only run in was during return trip from Poland whilst carrying more than my allotted amount of cigarettes ( yes Poland is in the EU but 200 is the max allowance). The X-ray machine in Dover exposed a grand brown mass in my suitcase which loooked naturally suspicious. I was stopped , relieved of all my cartons amd whilst not exactly cautioned as it was a mistake of borne from my own naivite, my entire conversation in the customs official’s office was recorded and played back to me, where even though I offered to pay the tax I was told it was too late and rejoined my coach party many cigarettes lighter ( no pun intended).

There is an automatic right of appeal which involves going through the Crown Court in order to reclaim confiscated goods but for most, including me, it simply isn’t worth it. Confiscated wares – be they cigarettes, bottles of alcohol, jewellery, foodstuffs etc. go on the "Queen’s Warehouse" where they are apparently destroyed by furnace.

What intrigued me was how I was discovered so quickly …well on the coach journey home a chap was skipping up and down the coach bragging about how much Vodka he’d stashed in his bags and was inviting other passengers to share their "booty tales" …which they did. Funnily enough after my own meeting I saw him laughing, joking and sharing a coffee round a table with other uniformed customs officers as our coach pulled away .. he was obviously not a passenger but an undercover customs officer himself.

Wakefield, West Yorks.
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