Word with the fuzz!

Old Sep 12, 2018, 3:06 pm
  #1  
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Word with the fuzz!

Ok so new experience today, was waiting to board an Emirates flight 30 minutes ago when I pair of police officers approached me and took me to one side to have a word.

Apparently I've been flagged up by a transport officer due to suspicious activity. I suspect this may have come about during the recent BA 16k avios short haul promo during which I did my first ever quick turnaround at Bordeaux.

On my last trip as part of the promo in AMS, a gate agent approached me and asked me a few questions due to my flying activity, no doubt the red flag being the quick turnaround at BOD. At the time I didn't think anything of it but now that the police are asking around should I be worried about any repurcussions, specifically for the next time I fly?

The officers were asking about my trip and taking photos of my passport, even taking pictures of an old tax exempt receipt that was stapled on by the shop assistant.

I did explain to them about what happened at AMS and about the BA Promo, telling them that the purpose of the trips were to accrue air miles that far exceed the cost of the short haul tickets. I'm hoping that will be the end of it but interested in hearing if any others have had similar experiences?
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Old Sep 12, 2018, 3:30 pm
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Originally Posted by milehighmike
Ok so new experience today, was waiting to board an Emirates flight 30 minutes ago when I pair of police officers approached me and took me to one side to have a word.

Apparently I've been flagged up by a transport officer due to suspicious activity. I suspect this may have come about during the recent BA 16k avios short haul promo during which I did my first ever quick turnaround at Bordeaux.

On my last trip as part of the promo in AMS, a gate agent approached me and asked me a few questions due to my flying activity, no doubt the red flag being the quick turnaround at BOD. At the time I didn't think anything of it but now that the police are asking around should I be worried about any repurcussions, specifically for the next time I fly?

The officers were asking about my trip and taking photos of my passport, even taking pictures of an old tax exempt receipt that was stapled on by the shop assistant.

I did explain to them about what happened at AMS and about the BA Promo, telling them that the purpose of the trips were to accrue air miles that far exceed the cost of the short haul tickets. I'm hoping that will be the end of it but interested in hearing if any others have had similar experiences?
This is interesting (although you are probably posting in the wrong forum) and I've not heard of a similar report recently. However, I suspect that you are connecting different incidents which is unlikely to be the case. BA can of course put several flags against you if there is any suspicion of abusing the Avios / Executive Club program, or if there are questions over payment or ticketing (which could be something as simple as a flight booked very last minute, for example). If you are an EU passport holder flying within the EU, the only questions that border force can oblige you to answer are those to confirm the validity of any travel document. I was recently asked by Border Force at SOU where I'd come from and what was the purpose of my travel. I replied that I was an EU citizen and would like to cross the border, which was permitted within seconds. If you are questioned by the British police, you are entitled to ask if they suspect you of anything and decline to answer their question (although it could possibly delay you) - I don't think they were looking for someone doing a mileage run and certainly wouldn't have been 'policing' the BAEC scheme

In the case of your current Emirates flight, I'd suspect that any questions / checks are much more likely to be because of the destination you are headed to (Iran? SE Asia? Somewhere which means that DXB is out of the way as a stopover?) rather than the previous discussion with BA.
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Old Sep 12, 2018, 3:36 pm
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as a US citizen i have been extra-screened for a while due to travels in turkey. but the post above makes sense--there are a number of factors at play, both due to your passport and also international issues abound at the moment (ie intense screening in BUD today on arrival).

the quick trips and turnarounds are not the issue because many of us have done the same--but it is something larger and different which might be annoying for some time, but hopefully not!
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Old Sep 12, 2018, 3:57 pm
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Interesting replies, it could well be that the BA promo quick turnarounds flagged me up and then that caught attention of something much wider with transport security at the moment.

I have a British passport and was flying to other European countries during the promo, specifically Amsterdam 3 times as it was the cheapest/shortest flights I could find at the time.

Currently on my way to BKK for a big birthday holiday then onwards to HKG.

the one thing that makes me suspect it's the BA promo issue that flagged me up was that the officer confirmed the flag was raised during June and the only flights I was going on then were for the promo.

Before that in May I did an open jaw 2-4-1 voucher to PVG and returning from HKG. It could well be that my flight patterns are suspicious, specifically going to Amsterdam 3 times in the space of a couple of weeks after flying to china and now off to Thailand. Perhaps they think I might be trafficking.

Perhaps I should have picked somewhere more quieter to go to for my birthday holiday!

To top it all off the BHX flight has been delayed by an hour and I'm going to miss the connectIon in dubai. This points hobby sure does take a toll on you!
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Old Sep 12, 2018, 4:08 pm
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Originally Posted by ptr120
This is interesting (although you are probably posting in the wrong forum) and I've not heard of a similar report recently. However, I suspect that you are connecting different incidents which is unlikely to be the case. BA can of course put several flags against you if there is any suspicion of abusing the Avios / Executive Club program, or if there are questions over payment or ticketing (which could be something as simple as a flight booked very last minute, for example). If you are an EU passport holder flying within the EU, the only questions that border force can oblige you to answer are those to confirm the validity of any travel document. I was recently asked by Border Force at SOU where I'd come from and what was the purpose of my travel. I replied that I was an EU citizen and would like to cross the border, which was permitted within seconds. If you are questioned by the British police, you are entitled to ask if they suspect you of anything and decline to answer their question (although it could possibly delay you) - I don't think they were looking for someone doing a mileage run and certainly wouldn't have been 'policing' the BAEC scheme.
This maybe true of Uk Border Force, but not sure if it’s Special Branch or whatever it maybe these days - I used to commute London to Dublin weekly, mostly from City. A few years ago admittedly. One Friday I was stopped as I stepped from the apron into the airport, asked similar questions as to reason of travel etc. She was not exactly friendly and I wasn’t exactly helpful as I felt it to be an intrusion blah blan.

Anyway, following week, a different person stops me as I walk back into the airport. Same conversation starts, but I’m interrupted by being given a piece of paper telling me I’m being stopped under some powers, I think it was the Terrorism Act but not sure these days. Effectively I’m told I have to answer questions and provide papers if requested or face possible arrest. Anyway, i didn’t feel like challenging it which is probably how they want it - i provide driving licence and get asked to wait, bit like the naughty step at school.

20 mins later, good to go and I’m escorted out and we have a chat and a laugh, as he suggests I should wear a suit in future or perhaps a dress. Wouldn’t tell me what triggered the enquiry (strangely&#128512 but I was never stopped again.
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Old Sep 12, 2018, 5:46 pm
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Don’t forget the BA and other airlines will disclose your data to border forces and authorities in your itinerary. A combination of factors short duration s to destinations like AMS frequently and and then BKK and others will ring bells.

Whilst to the aversge TP runner it’s natural to do a B2B and at Amsterdam as it’s near foolproof to the authorities it’s not so clear cut.
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Old Sep 12, 2018, 7:41 pm
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Originally Posted by PITBULL1K

20 mins later, good to go and I’m escorted out and we have a chat and a laugh, as he suggests I should wear a suit in future or perhaps a dress. Wouldn’t tell me what triggered the enquiry (strangely&#128512 but I was never stopped again.
What were you wearing?

Not quite the same situation as the OP, but recently I had a a trip where I was travelling LIN-LCY-DUS, and border force asked me what I was doing entering the UK at LCY. Told him I was transiting, and he said "There's no direct flights from Milan to Dusseldorf?". I told him it was a cheaper fare (in reality I needed the J tier points). In hindsight, I probably should have said I needed the mileage, in case they started probing deeper and found that my fare wasn't that cheap.
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Old Sep 12, 2018, 8:02 pm
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Don't presume that BA flagged this as opposed to intelligence services, perhaps UK, elsewhere in the EU, Canada, the US or elsewhere. The ability to analyze "big data" is astonishing and if one's travel fits a suspicious pattern, it will be flagged to the appropriate agency for follow up.
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Old Sep 13, 2018, 12:43 am
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The only time I had this was perhaps around 2007 (?) when the JER-LGW-AMS tickets first became a thing.

I was stopped at JER getting off the flight from LGW and wanting to get straight back on the same aircraft by a couple of SB officers .

I politely explained all about the Executive Club, tier points, silver status, etc. and was allowed on my way. Never had an issue since.

I think perhaps having my own warrant card at the time (no longer do) also probably helped.
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Old Sep 13, 2018, 1:07 am
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Originally Posted by milehighmike
Interesting replies, it could well be that the BA promo quick turnarounds flagged me up and then that caught attention of something much wider with transport security at the moment.

I have a British passport and was flying to other European countries during the promo, specifically Amsterdam 3 times as it was the cheapest/shortest flights I could find at the time.

Currently on my way to BKK for a big birthday holiday then onwards to HKG.

the one thing that makes me suspect it's the BA promo issue that flagged me up was that the officer confirmed the flag was raised during June and the only flights I was going on then were for the promo.

Before that in May I did an open jaw 2-4-1 voucher to PVG and returning from HKG. It could well be that my flight patterns are suspicious, specifically going to Amsterdam 3 times in the space of a couple of weeks after flying to china and now off to Thailand. Perhaps they think I might be trafficking.

Perhaps I should have picked somewhere more quieter to go to for my birthday holiday!

To top it all off the BHX flight has been delayed by an hour and I'm going to miss the connectIon in dubai. This points hobby sure does take a toll on you!
Well you do seem to be hitting all the drug-trafficking "hot spots"! LOL
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Old Sep 13, 2018, 1:18 am
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Originally Posted by PITBULL1K


This maybe true of Uk Border Force, but not sure if it’s Special Branch or whatever it maybe these days - I used to commute London to Dublin weekly, mostly from City. A few years ago admittedly. One Friday I was stopped as I stepped from the apron into the airport, asked similar questions as to reason of travel etc. She was not exactly friendly and I wasn’t exactly helpful as I felt it to be an intrusion blah blan.

Anyway, following week, a different person stops me as I walk back into the airport. Same conversation starts, but I’m interrupted by being given a piece of paper telling me I’m being stopped under some powers, I think it was the Terrorism Act but not sure these days. Effectively I’m told I have to answer questions and provide papers if requested or face possible arrest. Anyway, i didn’t feel like challenging it which is probably how they want it - i provide driving licence and get asked to wait, bit like the naughty step at school.

20 mins later, good to go and I’m escorted out and we have a chat and a laugh, as he suggests I should wear a suit in future or perhaps a dress. Wouldn’t tell me what triggered the enquiry (strangely&#128512 but I was never stopped again.
That's really interesting. I'm always conflicted on things like this as I simultaneously want the police to have the powers they need to keep us safe while not wanting to live in a police state - two things that are arguably incompatible! I'm also becoming more and more irritated by intrusive questioning and searches in airports (which by pure coincidence I'm sure greatly increase in frequency when I get a dark tan - when I'm pale white, nothing...).

Looking up S44 it looks like that allows unlimited stop and search without suspicion in areas that the Home Office designate. The whole of London used to be designated on a continuous basis but a European Court ruling decided that wasn't legal. I guess it might be secret, but perhaps that still applies to Heathrow?

The other one is S43 which requires reasonable suspicion that you're a terrorist. If the police are that suspicious then you'd have good reason to be concerned!

Oh and what's this Amsterdam promotion - just cheap ex-EU fares?
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Old Sep 13, 2018, 1:21 am
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Had the same issue several times after making about 20 return trips while working on a project in Turkey. My colleagues and myself were pulled over by people from Special Branch at Heathrow and asked a string of similar questions. One was particularly dumb and asked if I was “one of those jihadi chaps”. Cut a long story short, it was obvious that the API data is circulated and can flag up in various systems. On one occasion, travelling to the US on a family trip, I had the delight of the beep at the gate, then an aggressive interview with an American official (from the CBP, but with Home Office ID). She asked me to explain all of the trips on a print-out, which had all of my entry/exits from the UK, the flights taken and the destinations/origins. The interest was “why do you keep going to Turkey”. After that one, haven’t had a problem since. Some of our activities, TP runs, B2Bs or the unusual businesses we are in accidentally flag up as ‘false positives’. These folks are just doing their job, and though it is intrusive and sometimes worrying, if there’s nothing to hide, you are usually good to go. Almost missed the flight to JFK, my wife and son were already on board and I could see the gate agents clutching my boarding pass to off load me. Got on the plane last, door closed behind me!
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Old Sep 13, 2018, 1:59 am
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Originally Posted by milehighmike
To top it all off the BHX flight has been delayed by an hour and I'm going to miss the connectIon in dubai. This points hobby sure does take a toll on you!
Probably worth €600, so not all bad
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Old Sep 13, 2018, 10:47 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by DragonSoul
Well you do seem to be hitting all the drug-trafficking "hot spots"! LOL
Just need to add a few LATAM flights so you can collect the set.
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Old Sep 13, 2018, 11:57 am
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Originally Posted by DeathSlam
Just need to add a few LATAM flights so you can collect the set.
Or EZE on BA. Only time I’ve been welcomed at LHR with a posse of customs officers - who picked the first X people off the plane, so all CW. Having just been through Auckland where the quartantine officers help you repack your bag (^) it makes Border Force surliness another class (even many CBP officers in US have ability to crack a joke or engage in small talk - which is surely part of the job. Officer Hass at DFW always lodges in my mind, “I always like to give visitors a little “Hassle”. Enjoy your stay.”)
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