12

First of all, I'm not a terrorist or a drug courier.

Starting in June 2012, I began flying from Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO) to Falcone–Borsellino Airport (PMO) for personal reasons. Each flight was a round trip, so I would leave FCO and return to Rome a few days later. This wasn't only on weekends - in fact, I think that in those two years I flew during every day of the week and every time of the day since I was always looking for the best flight fare. For the same reason, I booked on many different airlines, from the low-cost ones (Ryanair, easyJet, Vueling) to the standard ones (Alitalia and Meridiana).

Whenever I arrived at FCO or PMO I always saw the policemen and their drug dogs but not even once I was blocked and/or asked for a simple and fast check of the baggage or myself. I always walked past them and exited the airport without problems.

So my question is: why?

Didn't the policemen ever suspect me for all those round trips? Or don't they check passengers like, for example, they do on the streets when they stop random vehicles?

  • 5
    Does the police randomly check cars for drugs where you live? I have only ever seen stops to check alcohol levels (once a year at most) or the car's papers (once in the last ten years). I certainly wouldn't want the police or anyone else to do more than they already do in airports, both from a civil rights and from a budget/efficiency perspective. – Relaxed Oct 29 '14 at 10:56
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    @Aluminum I still don't get it why the should. As far as I know the police in Italy does not stop random people if they don't strongly believe that someone is suspicious. So maybe you just do not look like a drug dealer :) – RoflcoptrException Oct 29 '14 at 11:07
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    I've flown from Finland to Norway without having to show my passport once... the level of security depends very much on the level of threats and paranoia. Landing at Tallinn airport from elsewhere in the EU, it's almost like getting off a bus at a bus station. Very different to the 2-hour waits at Manchester airport security in the UK... – Mark K Cowan Oct 29 '14 at 12:26
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    This old joke surely pertains – AakashM Oct 29 '14 at 12:50
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    I'm not a terrorist or a drug courier - that's exactly what a terrorist or drug courier would say! Get him! – Ben Oct 29 '14 at 23:51
45

First of all, it isn't something unusual to have a super frequent flyer on daily basis. During my years as a cabin crew member I remember a few passengers whom I saw a few times a month in an airline that operates 15,000 flights a months!

Second, you are scanned prior to your departure, and that's what really counts.

The random checks at arrivals are not meant for you, they are as the name suggests, random! these checks are for other purposes (psychological, show off, etc.) and they are considered extra measures unlike the preflight security checks which are essential, mandatory and not selective.

So, why didn't they suspect you? They didn't have to, they are not the same people every day, they have a certain criteria which you don't fit and finally, the dog didn't bark!

  • 10
    the dogs aren't supposed to bark, they are supposed to sit if they find anything suspicious – user2813274 Oct 29 '14 at 16:04
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    @user2813274 it was a figure of speech, to make the point clear to all, not everyone knows that police dogs suppose to sit if they found something, but everyone would get the point if I said bark.. I didn't know about the sitting actually. – Nean Der Thal Oct 29 '14 at 16:12
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    +1 The presence of the police makes the guilty ones often behave differently, especially if they're not professionals but do it because they're blackmailed, have financial troubles, were kidnapped or whatever. For the same reason, the random ticket inspectors can likely let you pass ever for your whole life, simply because they "have it in their eye" ;) – yo' Oct 29 '14 at 19:43
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    In my experience, the random checks are usually very far from random. (This supports your argument, anyway.) – Federico Poloni Oct 30 '14 at 14:25
8

If these were domestic flights (flights where the start and finish are within the same country) then it's possible that they hardly stop anyone.

  • Drug smuggling would be a non-issue because you're not crossing an international border.

  • Security at the arrival end does not need to check that you're not a terrorist who might blow up the plane, because you've already got off the plane.

  • 5
    I wouldn't say that drug smuggling would be a non-issue. However I agree that statistically speaking domestic flights would be a very risky and expensive way to courier for drugs. – JoErNanO Oct 29 '14 at 11:59
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    @JoErNanO - you're right - a few stupid people might carry drugs on the plane, but by definition it wouldn't be smuggling, I think. – A E Oct 29 '14 at 12:08
  • Unless all domestic flights are from a separate terminal, the police would have no way of knowing whether somebody was going to board a domestic flight or an international one. – David Richerby Aug 22 '15 at 17:49
5

You weren't stopped for the simple reason that you weren't doing anything unusual or suspicious. There are many people whose jobs require them to travel frequently so that is not unusual enough to cause suspicion. And, anyway, the airport police see literally thousands or tens of thousands of people every day. Unless you're 2.15m tall and have bright green hair, the police aren't going to recognise you as somebody who passed through the airport an hour ago, let alone a couple of days ago or last week or last month. Here's a quick check of the same phenomenon for you: the last two times you flew, did you see the same policeman?

3

I'd expect for the common use of drug dogs (outside of specific raids) to be exactly as you describe - noone would be blocked and searched until/unless the dogs sniff something and give a signal to the handlers.

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    Signal? a wink you mean? – Nean Der Thal Oct 29 '14 at 13:34
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    @MeNoTalk the signals depend on how the particular dog is trained. Different agencies and purposes require different training scenarios. The signals range from barking and digging/pawing at the detected object/smell to simply sitting down when encountering it - that training is used for detecting things where you don't want a response that is visible/obvious to bystanders. – Peteris Oct 29 '14 at 13:38
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    Relaxed -- just to be clear. What they are saying is: some drug-dogs are trained so that, when they DO find something, the dog has to give a signal, right. What is that signal? Surprisingly, the signal the dog gives is the dog "sits down". – Fattie Oct 29 '14 at 16:44
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    @MeNoTalk See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pointing_breed – Relaxed Oct 29 '14 at 19:47
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    if it's a terminal for internal flights only, I'd also seriously doubt it was a narcotics dog. More likely it'd be a cheaper (to train) regular crowd control dog, and the police guy merely there to step in if say a fight broke out between for example "supporters" of rival football teams. – jwenting Oct 30 '14 at 8:26
2

I live in Italy and I think you were never stopped because it was an internal flight. Again, you are not likely to be stopped at any airport in Europe that is part of the Schengen agreement. For instance, I have never been stopped at airports in Belgium and Holland even though I am a non-European. On the other hand, I have to go through normal aiport procedures on my arrival in the UK and Ireland which are not part of the Schengen.

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    I'm Dutch and I've been stopped once at Schiphol. Guy thought my big bag of camera gear was suspicious and I might be trying to smuggle it into the country (I was departing, but the departure and arrival areas there are mixed so he couldn't tell until I showed him my boarding pass). Wasn't looking too rich that day, and was carrying about 5000 Euro worth of kit... – jwenting Oct 30 '14 at 8:28

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