A question regarding Heathrow staff?

Old May 2, 17, 4:37 am
  #1  
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A question regarding Heathrow staff?

Hi all

I had a very unpleasant experience during my trip on Friday night (LHR-BRU)- the staff member took my passport and phone and was basically trying to force me to check in my cabin bag (which contained medication so i could not do this). He repeatedly told me that i had to check a bag in.. i had a plastic carrier bag with a sandwich and a drink in it and he said that it was not allowed. i told him if he gave me my passport and phone back i could go
and put the food in my small backpack.. i was not comfortable walking away and leaving my passport and phone with someone i do not know... he would not do this until i did and him and the other woman working the flight kept saying "he is only doing his job".

I would not have been angry if he had not taken my passport and phone hostage. Can they keep hold of both? im pretty sure that they cant hold onto these things?

I needed to get on the flight so i didnt really speak my mind. I only just read that duty free purchases are not allowed as an extra bag (So Norwegian, ryanair and easyjet all beat BA for this) so was unaware and thought like the other airlines it was. He was rude and condesending and i know from reading here i wont get anywhere when i complain now.

But what are my rights with regards to him holding onto my stuff?
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Old May 2, 17, 4:41 am
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Can you clarify, please: Heathrow (HAL) staff, or BA staff?
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Old May 2, 17, 5:06 am
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it would be the ones checking passports and boarding passes just before you board the plane- they were in BA uniforms so i guess they are BA staff?
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Old May 2, 17, 5:22 am
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OP, I am sorry to hear that you found 'BA' staff boarding you asking you to comply with the hand baggage allowance to be unpleasant.

Originally Posted by MiraculousM View Post
I needed to get on the flight so i didnt really speak my mind. I only just read that duty free purchases are not allowed as an extra bag (So Norwegian, ryanair and easyjet all beat BA for this) ....
AFAIK, the airlines you mention have exactly the same policy as BA now (except FR has a 10kg weight limit and Easyjet only allow the extra small bag if you are a Plus cardholder or on a FLEXI fare), officially all state now that duty free purchased must be included within your hand baggage allowance. Obviously, there is variation on enforcement for this on different flights (often depending on load factors) and at different airports.

Please also note that, in line with other airlines, BA's conditions of carriage state

Originally Posted by BA COC
8h1) For reasons of safety and security we or our agents may ask to search and screen you and search, screen or x-ray your baggage. We will always try to search, screen or x-ray your baggage when you are present. However, if you are not available, we may search your baggage in your absence.

If you do not allow us to carry out the necessary safety and security searches, screening and x-rays, we will refuse to carry you and your baggage.
...
13b) You must present to us valid passports, visas, health certificates and other travel documents

Before you travel, you must present to us all passports, visas, health certificates and other travel documents you need for your journey. If we ask, you must:

allow us to take and keep copies of them and
deposit your passport or equivalent travel document with a member of the crew of the aircraft for safe custody until the end of the flight.
and also from BA's website

Originally Posted by BA.com
Will I be able to purchase duty free?

Yes, you can still purchase duty free. You must be able to fit any items you purchase at the airport, including duty free, into your hand baggage allowance.

Last edited by navylad; May 2, 17 at 6:28 am
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Old May 2, 17, 5:26 am
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Originally Posted by navylad View Post
OP, I am sorry to hear that you found 'BA' staff boarding you asking you to comply with the hand baggage allowance to be unpleasant.
Why are you apologising on behalf of BA? Especially in the way that BA actually do send their response to CS interactions.
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Old May 2, 17, 5:35 am
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As i said, i was unaware because Ryanair (go to stansted and there are signs that a duty free bag is allowed everywhere), Norwegian and Easy Jet (its on their website).. Yes, it was my mistake and i was wrong, but i asked a question as to whether or not it was "OK" for them to take my passport because my bags hadnt complied (which all the low cost carriers give you a change to change and i also made everything fit into my backpack.)

This is what i was asking, not if my bags were compliant which i admitted because i had a bag with a sandwich and drink in it, was not.

Can they take my phone and passport away from me?
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Old May 2, 17, 5:42 am
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No, it's not OK for BA staff to hold your passport hostage. Nor your phone.
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Old May 2, 17, 5:47 am
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Originally Posted by MiraculousM View Post
As i said, i was unaware because Ryanair (go to stansted and there are signs that a duty free bag is allowed everywhere), Norwegian and Easy Jet (its on their website).. Yes, it was my mistake and i was wrong, but i asked a question as to whether or not it was "OK" for them to take my passport because my bags hadn't complied (which all the low cost carriers give you a change to change and i also made everything fit into my backpack.)

This is what i was asking, not if my bags were compliant which i admitted because i had a bag with a sandwich and drink in it, was not.

Can they take my phone and passport away from me?
If you read the small print on those FR posters, you will see that they allow a duty free bag that fits under the chair in front and this is the second bag. Like I said, this is the same policy as BA except is more restrictive as they add a weight limit of 10kg.

U2 allow for One piece of hand luggage and one duty free bag which has to fit under the seat in front of you, so again, this is technically more restrictive than BA"s policy as BA allow the additional piece of hand luggage which could be duty free or could be something you brought.

DY have broadly the same hand baggage allowance as BA.

In reality, you'll find that BA tend to less strictly enforce their policy, particularly when there is lower load factors, then the LCC who appear to see this as a money making opportunity. It sounds like you have an agent following the policy; perhaps they were concerned that others would have had their hand luggage checked as a result.

You don't have to give BA your passport and phone, and could have demanded them back, they would then have been within their COC to offload you from the flight. What were your concerns?

Originally Posted by rossmacd View Post
Why are you apologising on behalf of BA? Especially in the way that BA actually do send their response to CS interactions.
It was not an apology on behalf on BA, it was me saying sorry to hear that the OP reports having had an unpleasant experience. I have every sympathy and indeed empathy with the OP in this situation, it can be frustrating to ensure that you comply with airline rules when they are often subtly different; although the airlines do publish their policies on their websites, through the online purchasing process and in the pre-flight emails; but how often do we read them?

Last edited by navylad; May 2, 17 at 6:01 am
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Old May 2, 17, 5:51 am
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Originally Posted by MiraculousM View Post
As i said, i was unaware because Ryanair (go to stansted and there are signs that a duty free bag is allowed everywhere), Norwegian and Easy Jet (its on their website).. Yes, it was my mistake and i was wrong, but i asked a question as to whether or not it was "OK" for them to take my passport because my bags hadnt complied (which all the low cost carriers give you a change to change and i also made everything fit into my backpack.)

This is what i was asking, not if my bags were compliant which i admitted because i had a bag with a sandwich and drink in it, was not.

Can they take my phone and passport away from me?
To me it sounds typical gate agent attitude of wanting to check in a bag that is compliant and then finding excuses to justify it. Now using the excuse of having a second (I assume small) bag with some snacks? I thought you are allowed to have one carry on bag and another bag that goes below the chair in front of you? Or is it now the case BA wants to avoid outside food on the plane to make a buck out of BoB?

Holding onto a phone seems weird, but if you have an electronic BP on it, that might explain it. It is normal for BA staff to hold the BP and passport for verification but then need to promptly return it. Holding onto it for a longer time seems weird. But in this case a good strategy as it prevented you from being angry.

Border agents and authorities might be the few agencies that can hold your passport for a longer time.

Globalist
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Old May 2, 17, 5:52 am
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I cannot see any reason why they wouldn't honour your simple request to repack your bag, return your documents and allow you to try again later.

I think this is a classic case of someone making a decision and refusing to back down because they feel their authority is being threatened.

Worth a quick note to BA to complain about the staff conduct if you felt particularly put about by it, particularly given you couldn't check your bag for safety reasons. But I wouldn't expect compensation and personally I'd chalk it to experience
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Old May 2, 17, 5:56 am
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Originally Posted by Globalist View Post
To me it sounds typical gate agent attitude of wanting to check in a bag that is compliant and then finding excuses to justify it. Now using the excuse of having a second (I assume small) bag with some snacks? I thought you are allowed to have one carry on bag and another bag that goes below the chair in front of you? Or is it now the case BA wants to avoid outside food on the plane to make a buck out of BoB?

Holding onto a phone seems weird, but if you have an electronic BP on it, that might explain it. It is normal for BA staff to hold the BP and passport for verification but then need to promptly return it. Holding onto it for a longer time seems weird. But in this case a good strategy as it prevented you from being angry.

Border agents and authorities might be the few agencies that can hold your passport for a longer time.

Globalist
The second bag hasn't been guaranteed ever since the stupid HBO fares were introduced. In my admittedly limited experience, BA seem to be much less keen to let the second bag on board nowadays, especially on busier flights.

On the rare occasion I book HBO, I always pack two bags expecting to check one in, to be honest...
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Old May 2, 17, 5:58 am
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Originally Posted by navylad View Post
You…could have demanded them back, they would then have been within their COC to offload you from the flight
Huh?

Last edited by richi; May 2, 17 at 5:59 am Reason: to clarify what I'm "huh"-ing at
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Old May 2, 17, 6:03 am
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Originally Posted by richi View Post
Huh?
In accordance with the conditions of carriage (quoted upthread).
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Old May 2, 17, 6:05 am
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Taken at face value this was rude and unpleasant behavior from the gate agent. The OP sounds like he was being reasonable. The gate agent might have thought that the OP would simply walk off and ignore the instruction (I have seen this happen), but he is not a copper and should not try and act like one. If the OP had walked off and ignored the request/instruction then I would have thought (hoped) that the agent would seek to have the OP spoken to on the ac and the hand baggage situation rectified. There is no need for agents to treat passengers like naughty children or criminals that might do a runner just because of a small minority of selfish passengers that do as they please.
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Old May 2, 17, 6:11 am
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Originally Posted by navylad View Post
In accordance with the conditions of carriage (quoted upthread).
I'm not sure there's a link between the CoC and a gate agent holding onto your passport while you go away and repack. I also wouldn't feel comfortable leaving my passport with a gate agent and walking away, particularly during boarding when so many people are passing by.

Just to be sure, you just had a backpack and a duty free bag? Or did you have a wheelie case as well?
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