Sunday, 1 March 2015

Metal detector experience

So I said I would share my experience of going through the airport security avoiding the metal detectors, as I've been recommended to do.
I have to say the experience at Bristol airport was so easy and I did not feel like I was being annoying at all. I explained to the nearest member of staff and showed my card (which, to be honest, they didn't really care about seeing). They let me past the metal detector, through a gap and a female member of security patted me down. I was then asked to stand on a circle and raise my arms, turning slowly in a circle. I can only guess that this was a different type of scanner but it wasn't really explained, just that I was fine to go in it. The female security then chunked a couple of areas (bra and belt area) and that was that! It took slightly longer than my boyfriend going through normally but overall not too bad!!

It was a lot trickier abroad ....especially as it was Egypt, which is a military airport!! We asked spoken to out Thomson rep on the return transfer and he says he would speak to security for me. 
We joined the queue and before we got to the end he had spoken to the security at the scanner. They made a gap between the luggage X-ray and the metal detector (by lifting and moving the conveyor belt across slightly) so I could just squeeze through the gap. The other side a female member of staff patted me down and that was it! This was very easy and not too much fuss!! 
The problem was that this airport had another security area with more metal detectors after check in. We were on our own here without the rep and been unaware that there was another security area. So, we tried to explain to security on our side of the scanners but the man says he didn't understand!! We were now panicking!! There were no gaps between scanners and no one else our side to talk to. I sent my boyfriend through first to try and explain to someone on the other side. Luckily this worked!!! They understood and allowed me through a scanner that was turned off down the end. No one escorted us there, so we just moved something to make a gap, which again I squeezed through. As I walked back up to the other scanners, a member of female security patted me down and that was that!

Overall, I think it will be pot luck when abroad if someone understands your issue or not. It would be so much easier if the card was a standard one for any implant device so it was internationally recognisable. 

The worst experience of all though was at the hotel!! 
You know what it is like when you arrive, tired and grumpy, after a long flight. You get ushered into the entrance of the hotel to check in and to your rooms as soon as is humanly possible! So the front door is opened and a fair few holiday makers enter before us. We follow, but without any warning, or sign, or anything, we find ourselves immediately walking through a metal detector with a security man sat with his desk right up to the edge of it. As soon as I walked through I realised and I felt a massive thump to my stomach area, where the battery is. I now can't work out if that was reality or panic and anxiety about going through the scanner but all the same, it was expected and totally invisible, especially with loads of people walking in ahead of you.
I tried to explain to reception staff at this point but they didn't understand. I used the word 'dangerous' but they took this the wrong way and got stressed about it. Instead I went to our room and immediately checked the implant was working properly, which luckily it was.
I decided the only thing I could now do was to inform the Thomson rep so that other people don't have the same issue in the future. 
I hate going to rep meetings on holiday, but I suffered all their spiel and waited until afterward to speak to them. I spoke to the English rep, as I presumed she would have more chance of understanding about my implant. She didn't!! I told her the issue and she just looked at me blankly. So, i reiterated the problem and what this can mean to someone like me and she stared at me then casually said she would suggest the hotel put up a sign. No apology. No understanding. No humanity at all!!! I basically left that meeting knowing that things are always going to be difficult for me to get people to understand and see things from my point of view. 
Funny enough, no surprise, on leaving the hotel at the end of the holiday, there was no sign, no warning, no change. The security man was still sat with his desk more or less touching the edge of the metal detector. I tried to explain I couldn't go through it, so that I cook take my luggage outside, but he basically laughed at me. He had no idea what I was talking about. So I had to squeeze past him, whilst he laughed, which made me feel so uncomfortable! 
I think this is probably a bad experience compared to other places or holidays on the future but it has shown me how vigilent I need to be and how difficult it may always be to explain, especially whilst abroad. 
Since my return I have read loads of advise from other people with similar implants, saying that they have been told they can go through metal detectors, but I think I'll stick with avoiding them. Not only am I sure I felt a jolt, but apparently the implant may turn off (which I guess for this type of implant isn't a massive issue) but also I have heard that it could wipe all the programmes off the device, which would leave you essentially 'without' a device until you could get reprogrammed.  
Life is never going to be easy!!! 

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