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Usually I'm flying several times every month or two in Europe, and in the last few years I have seen that the situation at security check is worse and worse.

One week ago I had a flight via Frankfurt. I had a connection for 1 hour and 10 minutes; my previous flight was late. I had to run through the airport, and I was stopped at the security check.

There were only two 'doors', one for economy, the other for business and first class. Flying in economy but having short connection, I went to the business class queue. After about 15 minutes in the line I finally got to the control (if I went to economy I suppose it would have been an hour).

There I saw a lot of agents walking around, laughing, speaking to each other, etc. They really don't care that a lot of people can miss their flights. I told one of them that it's not ok. I got the response that if I didn't like something I could call the police. I didn't have time for it as my connection was really short. I ran to my gate and I missed my flight.

After my flight left without me, I had some other problems and forgot about this situation. But for the next time, those security agents, who are they? Airport staff? I don't think that it's police or that they have any relation to the police.

Does somebody know where can I make a complaint next time?

Update 17/12/2017: I'd like to say thank you for all answers and comments, it gives useful experience. Just a small detail: after I missed my flight I spent two days in Frankfurt until I could get another one. That's why I'm so unhappy

  • 21
    How dare anybody in a service position have fun while working! Especially when they're meant to be operating a queue... well, you know for a fact that they were meant to be operating a queue, and not monitoring customers or observing other staff or on a short break, right? – Nij Dec 16 '17 at 22:31
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    Your only angle is to complain to the airport that it takes too long to pass through security. The airport will check what is happening (how long it takes, how many people are passing through) and see if it is within the limits defined in the contract. If it is within limits, it will not matter how many workers were not servicing you. And I bet that they already monitor that data on their own, but you can complain to it if it makes you happy. Remember, you are the airport's customer, you are neither the security company's customer nor its boss. – SJuan76 Dec 16 '17 at 23:59
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    They really don't care that a lot of people *who arrive late* miss their flights. FTFY. It is you who has to arrive at security with enough time to clear it; the fact that you are in a hurry(even if it is not your fault) does not mean anything to the security people (there is always someone who is late, and hey, they do not even know). You could nicely ask them for some help since it is a bad situation for you, but you are not anybody's boss to tell what they should or should not be doing. – SJuan76 Dec 17 '17 at 0:01
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    @SJuan76 The comment field is for asking for clarification. If you are answering the question, please use the answer section so it can be vetted by the community. – pipe Dec 17 '17 at 11:18
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    @djsmiley2k I will take quick security, thank you very much [I'm more likely to be killed in car accident anyway]. – Maciej Piechotka Dec 17 '17 at 16:46
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From the Frankfurt airport website:

The Federal Police will also deal with compliments and complaints concerning aviation security matters.

Airport Security Check +49 (0) 69 690 - 78578 bpold.frankfurt@polizei.bund.de

I believe much of the work is performed by contractors, but the police oversee the operation.

If you wish, the airport also has a general feedback address, feedback@fraport.de, and it's possible they will take into account the complaints of dissatisfied passengers in their future planning.

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    So, they were actually right to suggest that OP "call the police". Not bad. +1 – David Foerster Dec 18 '17 at 11:50
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    I would interpret this differently. "Concerning aviation security" is about anything that would endanger people or property. Someone missing their connecting flight really doesn't fall into that category. – mrks Dec 19 '17 at 7:43
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    @mrks but it says "compliments or complaints". The inclusion of compliments means it is about more than endangerment, and is talking about security issues as a whole. You can't call to compliment the fact that someone left a suspicious bag unattended or something, right? But you can compliment their protocols and whatnot, which i take to mean you can complain about those protocols as well. – user67118 Dec 19 '17 at 15:43
  • Good point, that convinced me. – mrks Dec 20 '17 at 7:50
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Let me try to handle your implicit question, which I assume is "what can I do to prevent this next time?".

If you are in a line for security, and think there is a danger of you missing a flight, then the best way to deal with it is to talk to whoever is directing the lines. There is almost always someone, and if they agree that you might miss your flight they will often direct you to the front of the line. In fact if you think you are going to miss a flight, asking airport staff (or airline staff) for help as soon as possible is a good idea. Having passengers miss a flight is a problem for both airline and airport, and they will frequently make great efforts to get you to your gate on time if they know, and airlines are more likely to hold a flight a few minutes if they know you are on your way.

Waiting until you are at the head of the line and then telling the staff that their behaviour is bad is not going to help at all. As well as all the reasons o.m. said, the speed of a security line is usually limited by the number of bags that can be put through the machine. Having more people present, or having them being grim-faced (instead of laughing) or silent (instead of speaking) will not help at all.

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    And there was none who was directing the lines – Vitalii Dec 17 '17 at 11:48
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    How about "ask the staff on your incoming (delayed) flight for assistance as soon as it becomes clear that you will be delayed with a strong possibility of missed connection"? Surprisingly, this often helps--they have a lot of options. – user3067860 Dec 18 '17 at 5:02
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    Been there, done that. Pisa, I think, small airport, Friday afternoon, taxi caught in traffic jam. Me, loudly, smiling "Help, people, my flight goes in 10 minutes, please let me through!" People "Of course, here, this way!" They even called ahead so the plane waited for me, as I ran up the steps the engines were running and they shut the door behind me. – RedSonja Dec 18 '17 at 8:19
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    @Vitalii don't assume that everyone physically there has the training and certification to legally operate the equipment not in use. – Moo Dec 18 '17 at 8:22
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    @RedSonja -- Then again, what Italian staff does to a RedSonja might not necessarily be what German staff would do to a Vitalii. – Thomas Dec 18 '17 at 12:00
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While police will be present at the airport, actual checks may be done by contractors.

  • The companies who provide security services are under pressure to keep costs low.
  • These security contractors are usually not well paid, which does not increase their motivation or the competence of the available workers.
  • That being said, they are entitled to rest breaks, etc. You have no idea when they went on shift, when they had scheduled breaks, and when they were supposed to go off shift.
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    While this addresses some of the OP’s questions it does not address the title question nor the last question: how to make a complaint. – user1997744 Dec 17 '17 at 8:26
  • I agree. One small addition: At least for Berlin, it is not about competence. To be allowed to work in airport security, you need training and a background check. Need to know about flight safety and law. – Fabian Blechschmidt Dec 17 '17 at 10:50
  • @FabianBlechschmidt isn't that competence? – DonQuiKong Dec 17 '17 at 12:18
  • @user1997744, the OP wrote "But for the next time, those security agents, who are they?" – o.m. Dec 17 '17 at 14:01
  • @o.m. Which is why I acknowledged you answered some of the OP’s questions but not the titular one. – user1997744 Dec 17 '17 at 14:10
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From my experiences with airports and airlines, often the best way is the 'public' image. Emails can be ignored, phone calls diverted (not saying this is always the case), but social media managers seem to have their job description as getting 'angry' or 'bitter' or whatever negative opinions off twitter especially ASAP into private messages.

So for example, in this case I'd send a tweet out and mention Airport_FRA in it, and hashtag #frankfurtairport. That way at least the mention might get passed on.

  • Very good point :) – Vitalii Dec 17 '17 at 11:26
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I don't remember the source but about a year ago I read an article written by airport staff and it included the answer to this question: "What to do if I'm short on time and need to pass through security to get to my connecting flight.". Basically the answer was that you need to go to the security staff (there's usually someone patrolling the queues or similar) and explain your situation. Do not go to the front of line and ask the people at the checkpoint. They're too busy.

As the airlines incurs a lot of loss from people needing to be rebooked due to missed flights, they are constantly pushing on the airport and its security staff to perform as efficiently as possible, and the security staff knows that the less people getting rebooked due to a missed connection, the better for them, so they will be eager to help you.

There's usually a semi-closed position or a VIP-position that they'll employ to service you right away. But you really need to be late yet still have a decent chance at making your connection for this to work so they will check your bording pass before doing anything and they still might refuse to help.

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"I had a connection for 1 hour and 10 minutes"

That is too short to make an international connection. I assume your connection was international because you said you were stuck for two days before getting an alternate. Try claiming on your travel insurance, but they will probably not accept it. I suggest you complain to whom ever booked your ticket, you might get lucky.

Transfer guidelines and useful tips for Frankfurt Airport are published here: https://www.frankfurt-airport.com/en/flights---more/transfer.detail.suffix.html/article/flights-and-more/services-a-z/easy-travel/transfer-at-fra.html#fratransfer and it includes ensuring you have reasonable time to clear security which includes allowing for the fact an incoming flight can be late! From your description, Security were doing their job and operating within their published guidelines so it looks like there is no reasonable complaint you can make in this situation but if you do want to follow it up, security would be airport employees, so you can contact the airport authorities themselves in the first instance at feedback@fraport.de

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    I bought the ticket directly on Lufthansa's web site. The sell such connections. I've taken the same route at least three times and 1h was completely enough for transfer + passport control + security check. As for trevel insurance, I spoke with them and they could offer a hotel + taxi, that what lufthansa had offered. – Vitalii Dec 18 '17 at 18:04
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    A 1h connectin would never be accepted in the US though security. It's barely acceptable for an airside connection. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 18 '17 at 18:35
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    @Vitalii - Now you know that a 1 hour connection is long enough. Three times out of four. – Paul Smith Dec 18 '17 at 23:33
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    @PaulSmith If Lufthansa sells it that way, it's enough. But something is missing completely in the list of answers. If you know you have a tight connection and your inbound flight is running late, tell the cabin crew of the inbound flight. They will get you off the plane in no time, sometimes when everyone's told to buckle up you are also reseated into a free business seat; and they will tell you how to circumvent security. – Alexander Dec 20 '17 at 10:08
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In addition to Mark's answer, a post mentioning the airline may also be helpful. While it's not necessarily the airline's fault, they have more power to put pressure on the airport and/or security contractors to do their jobs efficiently.

Missed connections are expensive and inconvenient not only to the passengers, but also to the airlines. Security causing passengers to unnecessarily miss a flight is something that (good) airline do care about. In addition to the bad PR the airline gets from passengers missing flights, having to re-accommodate passengers on later flights, put them up in hotels, pay for delay expenses or refund tickets, etc. are large costs to the airline. There always going to be a few incidents everywhere, but if it's something that's becoming a common pattern at an airport, an airline (especially a major one that represents a lot of the airport's traffic) can put a lot of pressure on the right people to get things done more efficiently.

If the security contractors aren't concerned enough with helping to keep the airport operations running smoothly, the airline can push to either get the contractor to start caring or replace them with one that does care.

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