At an airport – where is it safe to meet or grab a coffee?
With the latest awful news pouring out of Brussels I would like to take this opportunity to remind people of one of the main principles of airport safety. You don’t have to be an airline gold card holder to be travelling extensively on business. Although video conference, Skype and email may have affected many business travellers it’s still without doubt useful to meet people face to face to create a close working relationship.
Humans are at core animals and the face to face bond created between business partners can often carry you through a number and range of difficult situations. When you are pulling everything out of the bag to ensure that critical project delivers on time its often personal bonds built up between colleagues and partners that provides the additional 10% needed. Updates and follow ups can be OK on Skype but it won’t build the bond that people have used for centuries to create and develop that instinctive tie that we partly rely on to create trust and understanding. When you arrive at the airport the entrance hallways in most modern airports are full of shops, fast food outlets and coffee shops way before we need to be finding the boarding pass to go through to air-side (that part after security).
If for example you go into Heathrow the entrances in all the terminals are lined with shops and restaurants. Now it’s very tempting after a track across town and if you have spare time to want to collapse and grab a coffee and it’s also a great place to meet colleagues. Even frequent travellers who have loyalty cards from BA, Star Alliance or one of the other airlines and have access to their business lounges often meet colleagues in a coffee shop prior to going through to the lounge. So the question comes with the recent upsurge in security awareness where exactly are we most exposed and where are we most likely to be safer. Well just think for a minute, identify and evaluate the risks.
When you walk in the airport terminal it’s usually packed with people from a large number of countries and normally under a high police presence.
There is good reason for that. The vast majority of people in the terminal on the public side have bags and luggage and none of them have been through any security checks. Coupled with that there are a lot of people in a confined area which is about as big a security problem as you can imagine. To reduce the risk considerably avoid queues and get airside as soon as possible. Airside basically means once you are through the security screening.
As a business traveller you probably have access to a lounge and if so arrange to meet colleagues there but if not arrange to meet them once you have passed through security. Although airports themselves always remain high on the list of targets of various terrorist type groups mainly because of the publicity and impact they can have being airside is one of the few area in public where everyone around you has been through a security check.
Many airports outside across the world have no clear separation between arrivals and departures. This means that the clear barrier between those about to board a plane and those just in the airport or just arrived does not exist. Some airports only having security checks at the gate with the rest of the airport being unchecked.
You should be aware however that often at this point everyone has a boarding pass so some level of filtering has occurred even though it’s not as high.
If in this type of airport spend as much time in the business lounge and sitting at the gate past security as possible.
What you are basically attempting to do is manage your risk. The biggest risk is due to the fact that there are a large number of people with large bags. Terrorists know this and they also know how much publicity they get from an explosion or attack at a major airport. As a result the further you can get from the majority of people who have not been through security checks the safer you are.
Taken from the book
BE AWARE TAKE CARE
by Tony Willis
© Copyright 2015 Tony Willis
ISBN CODE 978-1-329-08290-8
All Rights Reserved