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Security re-screening when connecting through a european airport

FYI for those doing connecting flights in Europe on their trip. We connected through Heathrow on our way to Spain. At home while doing my packing, I knew I had Precheck for my outbound flight which entitles me to be a little more relaxed with my liquids etc. I did NOT realize that I would be going through security again when connecting. Just thought I'd share this as there were a lot of us that had trouble going through security and having to have things removed and rescanned. Luckily we had a long layover but I lost 45 minutes with this issue last trip. Good luck!

Posted by
1606 posts

Thanks for the reminder. There are a lot of posts recently from first time travelers so this will help them too.

Posted by
8889 posts

I am not sure how to phrase this without it sounding like a rant or complaint. Please read it as an honest attempt to give advice:

Why would you even think US rules apply outside the US? The US is merely one of 190-odd countries in the world. Each have their own laws, rules and ways of doing things. Some better, some worse and all usually tailored to the country's requirements and history.
I would not expect one country's airport security rules to be the same as another's. The US does not write the rules for the rest of the world (though some US politicians and media act as if they think it does).

Many posts in this forum reduce to the problem of people assuming (sometimes without even thinking about it) that things are the same as at home, and express surprise and disbelief to be told they are different.

Perhaps all passports should have a big disclaimer on the front: WARNING: Foreign countries are DIFFERENT, in ways that will surprise, amaze and sometimes irritate you. Expect the unexpected

Posted by
3186 posts

I don't think this is a rant-just a reminder to people who have gotten used to Precheck when in US airports that it is only a thing at US airports. Just like we need to be reminded of stricter requirements for carryon luggage by many European airlines. I've traveled a lot in Europe and still wasn't prepared for the weight requirements when I flew Austrian for the first time.

Posted by
533 posts

Of course foreign countries are different. Isn't that the purpose of a travel forum - for people to share their experiences of differences they've encountered, so that others can be better prepared?

Posted by
2914 posts

I'm sure this will be very helpful to flyers who won't be expecting a recheck on what they consider a through flight or one ticket flight.

Posted by
2560 posts

The rules for liquids are the same in the US whether you have pre-check or not. The only difference is you don’t have to remove your 3-1-1 bag. So not sure what you mean by “more relaxed with my liquids”. In Europe I’ve found the screening for liquids to be much more stringent. You need to remove your bag of liquids. A few times I forgot about very small liquids outside the bag (like eye drops) and they triggered a secondary screen.

Posted by
5476 posts

It's worth mentioning that the UK and especially Heathrow tend to have more security checks than other northern European countries. In 1987, because of Lockerbie, I had to demonstrate that my pocket calculator "worked", to transfer for Spain in Heathrow. Arrivals from other countries always get rescanned today at Heathrow. This does take time. If you have to change terminals, you could get scanned a second time.

Posted by
8889 posts

I was apologising in advance if anybody thought my post was a rant; annemargaret, I was not accusing you of anything.
I felt like I was treading on eggshells trying not to offend people when writing it.
Sorry.

Posted by
5580 posts

We are all creatures of habit. Often we are not even aware that we act "on autopilot". Going to another country is a good way to remind us that so many little things may be different once we get out of our familiar bubble.

One of the habits that I have developed, intentionally, is to always allow oodles of time in an airport before a departure. Not because I love spending time in airports (although I'm generally happy in most of them) but because padding my pre-departure time (even extremely) guarantees me a more relaxed, stress-free experience. Having a couple hours to kill in an airport, even more than a couple hours (have a bite to eat, get a massage, chill in the lounge, people watch, fantasize about flights and destinations to exotic places) sure beats sweating bullets worrying and wondering if you're gonna make your flight or be out thousands of dollars for a replacement ticket just because you got there 5 minutes after they closed the doors.

Posted by
5865 posts

Worth adding to the topic...Also do not assume items that TSA allows in the US are also Allowed by other countries. Your corkscrew may be fine with TSA, not so fine with EU screeners. Also important to note, just because you went through a screening, that everything you have was "approved", the next screener, even in the same country may see something differently or have a sharper eye.

Posted by
7716 posts

Some of the international carriers are offering TSA PreCheck from their US departures. We
Have had it with British Sir and Norwegian.

Posted by
3207 posts

Also, if you transfer somewhere else in Europe, you probably won't have to through security again when changing planes.

Posted by
454 posts

For frequent travelers to Europe, it's worth knowing the security re-screening rules of thumbs at major European airports that tend to serve as connecting points. These are the three that I'm most familiar with, in descending order of "strictness":

  • London Heathrow re-screens all arriving passengers from a non-UK airport connecting to another flight, including arrivals from the US, Canada, and Schengen countries. (I'm not sure about Ireland -- they may exempt arrivals from Ireland, but I know for a fact that even connecting passengers from Paris or Amsterdam are re-screened.)
  • Paris CDG re-screens all non-Schengen arriving passengers connecting to another flight, including arrivals from London. Connecting passengers from other Schengen airports (such as Madrid or Frankfurt) are not normally re-screened.
  • Amsterdam Schiphol re-screens some non-Schengen arriving passengers, depending on where you are arriving from. If you are arriving from a shortlist of destinations that are considered to have EU-equivalent security, including the US, you do not need to get re-screened at Schiphol. If you arrive from somewhere else not on this shortlist (for example, Lagos) you do have to get re-screened.

As a sidenote, I think the title may have led to some of the subsequent reactions -- a general reminder that airports may re-screen at connecting points is a little different than the fact that Precheck is (obviously) not available outside the US.

Posted by
62 posts

Thanks Andrew, I think you are right about the title and I have edited it! Also the additional info you posted was very helpful.

Posted by
3207 posts

Aside from the rules of thumbs, it can be helpful knowing the official rules.

  • The EU has set common standards for airport security so passengers arriving from another EU-country do not need to be rescreened as the security at their departure airport is trusted.
  • In this case, EU means EU27 + EFTA + UK (until the end of the transition period)
  • In addition, the EU has arrangements with a couple of countries where security is considered to be of EU standard and passengers arriving from those countries do not need to be rescreened. Those countries are at the moment:
    • United States of America
    • Canada
    • Montenegro
    • Faroe Islands, in regard to Vagar airport
    • Greenland, in regard to Kangerlussuaq airport
    • Guernsey
    • Jersey
    • Isle of Man
    • Singapore will also be added to the list soon.
  • Some European airports can not separate "safe" and "unsafe" non-Schengen arrivals. At these airports all transfer passengers arriving from non-Schengen countries are rescreened.
  • The United Kingdom has opted out of the common security standards and rescreens all transfer passengers arriving from outside the UK. But EU-countries do not rescreen arriving passengers from the UK (that might change at the end of the transition period).

If you are interested, read more here: https://ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/air/security/aviation-security-policy/oss_en

Posted by
443 posts

"Also do not assume items that TSA allows in the US are also" <----
This is completely true - for example, I can keep my contact lens solution out of my 3-1-1 bag in the US, it's considered Medical supplies; not so at LHR, where they MUST fit in the 3-1-1 bag...

Posted by
21071 posts

I was going to post exactly the same warning as skunklet1771. I'm not carry-on only, but I pretty much filled my 3-1-1 bag with miniature jars of mustard for my flight out of Heathrow in 2017. My nasal spray was outside the bag. Nope. Didn't work. The checker was very kind, fortunately.

Posted by
2916 posts

Why would you even think US rules apply outside the US?

You missed the point of the poster. It was that he didn't realize that he would be getting rescreened in Heathrow, a perfectly reasonable error. He wasn't complaining that when he got rescreened, the US Precheck rules didn't apply.
Knowing in advance if you will have to go through screening at a connection is not always clear. For example, after having connected in Amsterdam from the US w/o screening, we knew the next year would likely be the same, and it was. Whereas changing in Dublin involved rescreening on multiple trips.

Posted by
7605 posts

I am curious how having TSA Pre-Check allows one to be a little more relaxed with one’s liquids. I thought the same 3-1-1 rules applied to all travelers ?? (I am talking only domestic U.S. here.)

Posted by
3304 posts

Chris F is absolutely right. But there is no uniformity with regards to going through security within the US.

What security officials expect varies from airport to airport in the US for both TSA pre-check and regular security. They also very within the very same airport.

Terminal 4 at JFK has the most relaxed security with regards to liquids. I could have multiple 3-1-1 bags and nobody blinks an eye. At terminal 5 however, the security both again at TSA pre-check and regular is by the book and there better be only one 3-1-1 bag or it will either be tossed or you’ll be told to go back to the ticket window and check it In.

Posted by
5865 posts

I am curious how having TSA Pre-Check allows one to be a little more relaxed with one’s liquids. I thought the same 3-1-1 rules applied to all travelers ?? (I am talking only domestic U.S. here

I could probably explain...

Yes the same rules apply. Your liquids must be under 3.4 oz, and in a 1 quart bag.

However, in Precheck you do not take the liquids out to be viewed separately. I am sure clever people have figured this out and fudge a bit. Use a slightly larger bag, maybe slightly larger containers, maybe not all items in the bag.

Again, not per requirements, but people get by due to the limited check, but still not condoned.

Posted by
14917 posts

45 minutes for security in Heathrow is pretty good, the 2-3 times I did it took longer!

Good for you for sharing. Hopefully others who are connecting in Europe for the first time will read this.

Posted by
4689 posts

Compare this with departing from Ireland to the USA with pre-clearance when you go through the normal Irish security and have to then go through TSA style security as well within a matter of minutes.

Posted by
181 posts

I may be mistaken - and I"m sure someone will correct me if I am - but didn't the USA establish minimum security screening standards that foreign airports and/or foreign airlines were required to follow if they were going to be allowed to serve the US?

Posted by
13086 posts

Yes, the USA has minimum security standards that airports must meet for flights departing to the US.

The requirements include random secondary inspection of x number of passengers at the gate. I was pulled out of line for this at Heathrow when boarding our British Airways flight, traveling with my family of four. I and 3 gentlemen were talked downstairs to have our hand baggage inspected, and one of them complained bitterly. The agent said “Don’t blame me; blame HER h pointing at me). It is HER government that requires us to do this”.

Posted by
8889 posts

but didn't the USA establish minimum security screening standards that foreign airports and/or foreign airlines were required to follow if they were going to be allowed to serve the US?

Yes, but that doesn't stop other countries having higher standards and more restrictions.
And that only applies to flights heading to the USA.

Posted by
454 posts

The agent said “Don’t blame me; blame HER h pointing at me). It is
HER government that requires us to do this”.

Regardless of your opinion (and/or the nationality of the passengers and agents) I certainly don't find this to be very professional!

Posted by
7605 posts

@Paul — thanks for the explanation. That makes sense.