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20 questions at check-in at Rome's FCO airport???

I'm curious if anyone else has experienced an unusual number of odd questions when checking in for a flight to the US from Italy? At Rome's airport, we were asked a bunch of questions, ranging from specific questions about my employment (beyond the usual "what do you do?", to very specific details to the point I probably should have pulled up my webpage and just shown the ticket agent) and "Which street in Rome did you buy this hat?" It seemed a bit strange and out of the ordinary. Has anyone else experienced a higher volume of questions when checking in for an international flight?

Posted by
1625 posts

Was this at the ticket counter or security? Just flew Rome to LAX via Dublin and was not asked any unusual questions...did find it surprising (but not weird) that in Dublin, we were shown a picture of our luggage, which was checked in at FCO and asked if that was our luggage.

Posted by
786 posts

We were asked zero odd questions by the ticket agent when we checked in two weeks ago, headed to Chicago via Dublin. We went through passport control and were asked only how long we'd been in the country and what the purpose of our visit was. The guy stamped all three of our passports with barely a glance.

Passing through security again in Dublin, we weren't shown a photo of our checked bags, but as my small carry-on was going through the scanner, I swore the guy at the console had an x-ray of my checked bag on his screen. I had two bottles of olive oil in the bag and that's exactly what it looked like on his screen. They must match up your scanned baggage as you pass through security. Makes sense, but I found it kind of jarring.

Posted by
490 posts

Hello people, terrorism, high travel season, get used to changes in security, just say'n!

When I lived in England in the 90's and flew to Dublin they made sure all of my electronics turned on..IRA, terrorism.

Mixing it up is what keeps terrorists guessing! They want to sweat people to see if anyone is going to least they didn't put you in a room!

Posted by
11256 posts

Maybe the 'odd' questions were to kill time while the agent was waiting for the computer to do whatever he was waiting for it to do.

Posted by
23350 posts

Over the years in a number of different locations, we have had security agents approach us while waiting in the check in line and ask a number of pointed question concerning where we have been and what we did. A couple of times asked to see the passport prior to the first question. Always very chatty, friendly but got the idea that they looking for very specific reaction. I am sure it is just part of the over all enhanced security and it would not bother me since I know what I am doing and where I am going. I would not be overly concerned.

Posted by
7916 posts

When you travel a lot internationally you see this is the current norm for flights back to the USA, to echo response above.

In Amsterdam last May they had 3 security screenings:

the regular one that everyone goes through with bags,

another one like an interview after the xray
(and the queue was long and depending on your responses they went through your bag again),

and than another when boarding by some of the same screeners

Just heighten security

Posted by
5697 posts

One of my favorites was being asked in Amsterdam if I was traveling with the woman in line next to me, and when I said yes, how long had I known her -- since it was my college roommate, I did a quick calculation and said "about 40 years." Not sure which of the two of us looked more suspicious.

Posted by
368 posts

I got asked a lot of questions when I was leaving Paris. What hotel did I stay at, what arrondisment was it in. What restaurants did I eat at etc. First time I was asked all that.

Posted by
1059 posts

I have never been asked a question at the departing airport during my 6 trips to Europe including Rome in 2015.

Posted by
362 posts

I've had one trip where they showed me a picture of my luggage and asked me if it that was my luggage. It might have been Dublin? I just don't remember.

I've had them ask me if I speak the language of the country which I am entering. They asked us if we'd tried the haggis in Scotland, to which I replied, I did! And then I gave the rest of it to my other half which made the security person laugh.

I've never had truly weird questions, though.

Posted by
440 posts

I was asked which street my Hostel was on a few years ago at Malaga airport, I did not have a clue and still couldn't tell you but I pointed it out on the map and they seemed happy with that

Posted by
15284 posts

This is becoming standard procedure for some U.S. airlines.

I get it out of LHR when flying American. One counter agent asked me what there is to do where I was going (in the U.S.) I said nothing. "Then why does anyone go there/" "Three Universities, three major medical centers, and great BBQ. "

On my last flight with AA, I as in the lounge when my flight was called. Since I didn't check in at the counter--I only had carry on--I had to stand in line at the gate, with the other upper class passengers, and answer the inane questions. We almost missed our flight and the gate agents were telling us to hurry up. Here's an idea, since all of the airline's flights go to the U.S., have someone in the lounge ask the questions so it doesn't hold up the other passengers.

Posted by
2628 posts

We were asked at least a dozen questions at FCO last year...what I do, where I live, who I work for, where we had been.

Posted by
3521 posts

On a nonstop flight from Rome FCO to IAD last year, I was asked several questions above and beyond what has been the normal.

My preprinted boarding pass was confiscated. The person issuing my new boarding pass (not an employee of United but of Alitalia even though I was flying on United) asked me where my luggage was and I pointed to my carry on. That person asked again, I pointed again. She could not understand how I could spend a month in Italy without "proper luggage". Several more questions were asked about what I had done while in Italy including if I had visited Vatican City which would constitute leaving the country (according to this person). I was also asked hw much cash I was carrying although not asked to show it. I was given my boarding pass.

Between that checkpoint and security, I stopped to use the bathroom. Three uniformed military police followed me in and one of them inspected the stall I used after I left. My bag was completely emptied at the security check and each item was swabbed for explosive residue and my empty bag was run through the x-ray again. I was wanded and groped 3 times. The same 3 military police followed me until I passed security then they disappeared.

When I got to the gate, I was once again separated from the others boarding the plane and my luggage was once again dumped and searched. I was also patted down extremely thoroughly .

Boarding the plane and after settling into my seat, a flight attendant asked to see my boarding pass and passport.

I guess next trip to Italy I will make sure to have checked luggage.

Posted by
3969 posts

I got the odd third degree last summer at FCO in Rome. First is was a question like where are you going, then it branched out in to things like what are my hobbies and when I replied gardening the quick thinking official asked me what I liked to plant. It seemed very strange, not at all like they were making small talk but were looking to trip me up somehow. I told my husband after we cleared the area that it felt like a memory/demintia screening...What were they looking for?

Posted by
69 posts

Thank you all for your replies. I feel better now after hearing that it has happened to others as well. Maybe it is just an extra security precaution. Maybe I should just carry the "What is a School Psychologist?" brochure with me when I travel to answer all the job related questions - LOL!!!

BTW, our vacation began in Venice. There was a very long line at passport control at the Venice airport. A recorded message played every 10 minutes or so explaining increased security and longer wait times. Just a FYI in case anyone is flying in to Venice and are on a tight time schedule.

Posted by
23350 posts

*....What were they looking for? .....* It is how you answer the questions - your eye movement, how quick you respond, etc. A lot of times the specific answer isn't as important but how you answered. If you are running a cover, you tend to have a lot of memorized answers and will have tried to anticipate the questions. Looking for a lot of hidden clues and reactions. How effective this is, I have no idea. But it is part of trying to find that needle in the haystack.

Posted by
11256 posts

Mark--- You must look like or have a name similar to some bad guy.

My tongue in cheek questions is--Did you omit from your post the fact you had a pistol and two bandoleers of ammo, ala Pancho Villa, when you tried to get through security?

Posted by
27237 posts

I flew to Nice via Amsterdam on May 1 and went through passport control at both airports. The line in Nice was quite long, but it moved rapidly. It appears that extra checks are the new normal, for at least a while.

I believe the 20-questions approach has been employed in Israel for a long time. It seems to have been very effective there. They are very good at reading little tics.

Posted by
11294 posts

I have had the intense questioning several times when leaving Milan and when leaving Rome (although not the most recent Rome departure, in 2014). It was because the screening for US bound flights and Israel bound flights was being done in the same area, by the same people. And this was in the 1990's. So, it's not just your experience, and it's not just a recent thing.

For me, they really were obsessed with the accommodations: Where did you stay? How did you learn about the hotels? How did you book them? Did you stay with friends? Are you sure? Do you have a receipt for one of the hotels? Etc, etc. My great "achievement" in this arena was being prepared on a subsequent trip. I had my hotel receipts right on top of my bag. Almost before they had finished asking to see them, I had them out!

Ironically, on my actual trip to and from Israel, I didn't get anywhere near this level of scrutiny. I was fully prepared for it, and had a "reverse surprise" when I was only asked a few basic questions.