I'm travelling soon and one of my young friends told me that he had to take off his jeans and only remain in underwear last week in London Heathrow when departing for a flight because there was some metallic piece that kept on setting of the detector. They asked him to take of his jacket, empty his pockets until they decided he had to take them off.

Now, I'm not sure whether he's exaggerating or not but I am concerned about this. It doesn't seem that they offered him to be screened in a private room and just in public.

Is this legal or illegal?

  • 6
    I seriously doubt your "young friend" was forced to disrobe in front of other passengers. They would have taken him aside for a search of that nature.
    – user13044
    Jul 24, 2017 at 16:39
  • Consider, he may have elected, voluntarily, to put the jeans the through the bag scanner. If his undergarments are not very revealing, boxers for instance, I doubt anyone would have though twice about it.
    – DTRT
    Jul 24, 2017 at 18:47
  • @Johns-305 Really, you can't imagine anyone not willing to strip before a crowd? ...
    – deviantfan
    Jul 25, 2017 at 1:57
  • 2
    @deviantfan I don't understand your comment. Of course some people wouldn't do that, but many would for the convenience of getting trough quicker. The difference between board shorts and boxers is practically non existent.
    – DTRT
    Jul 25, 2017 at 14:21

1 Answer 1


According to London Heathrow Airport's website:

The Department for Transport considers that there are no known health effects from the scanners in use at Heathrow. The only alternative that can be offered to a scanner is a private search which allows for a more extensive hand-search than usual. Passengers will be escorted to a different location in the airport from the main search area (eg a private search room). The private search may involve the loosening and/or removal of clothing. A person undergoing a private search may ask to be accompanied by a witness.

So yes, the removal of clothes is legal if the security officers deems there to be a potential threat. As @Tom commented, it is doubtful he had to do it in public.

  • The quote is something different. It is for people whou refused to be irradiated by x-rays from their full body scanner. Although the link shows they actually use mm waves, not x-rays, so it is safe. Dec 1, 2017 at 9:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .