I would like to share, succinctly, my experience at Cyprus Airport this evening and staff at airport security.
Cyprus plays a lot on bringing in tourists and helping their economy. The last experience any visitor usually gets of a country is at that country’s airport on departure. That can have a lasting impact on whether a visitor returns or not.
I have been coming to Cyprus for over 10 years now, with anything up to 8 visits per year. I have an apartment on your beautiful island.
This evening, going through security, with my usual hand luggage, I had my belt off, boots off, laptop out, iPad out, liquids out, all ready to go through security (I know the drill. At the other side of the x-ray, I was asked to take out all wires in my case and go through security again. I said, surely, it is just easier to search my small hand luggage bag.
The lady proceeded to (very) slowly, pull everything out of my case. “All the wires” consisted of everything I always take through, with no previous hassle… (iPad/iphone charger cable, laptop power socket, bluetooth mouse, ear phones, in-car iPhone charger etc).
On presenting the pile of my suitcase contents back to me, I asked for the lady to re-pack the bag she had emptied. This was after she had allowed the contents of the sealable liquids bag to all fall on the floor and she showed no respect in picking them up. On that subject… why is Cyprus allowed to hand out sealable bags, at least 33 per cent bigger than any other EU airport regulations? I have pictures to prove they are the wrong size.
I asked for a manager, given she abruptly said “no” and walked away when I asked for the bag to be packed.
The manager, came and picked up all my belongings and just dropped them in my case and squashed the lid shut. I said, I felt that that was a complete disrespect of my property.
At that time, another (Cypriot) passenger was walking through, and he said to me, he agreed, that I had been treated with contempt and lack of respect and that I should complain.
I asked to speak to a senior person. Two people came over, one from the civil aviation (CAA) and one from the police. The CAA official agreed initially that I had been treated disrespectfully but the other guy stepped in and suddenly things changed.
The next minute, I was being threatened with being arrested. This guy, asked for my passport and boarding pass. He then said to the original guy who just rammed my possessions in my case, ‘take him to do a thorough search for as long as you like and if you want to, include a strip search’. At this point, I then had an armed security guard stood around me.
The original guy who just piled my belongings back into my case, then asked for my passport. He then walked off with my passport which is the property of the UK government and disappeared for over five minutes. In that time, I have no idea what he did with my passport, or what he may have entered on any system to cause me any future travel issues.
He finally returned, handed my passport back and with a smile said “have a good flight”.
I apologised to all three people concerned, saying, I was just voicing my frustration at how my personal possessions had been treated… my toiletries being thrown on the floor and my belongings including a laptop and iPad being dumped into a small case and the lid forced shut.
I don’t believe the authorities have any right to treat a person like that. They lacked any customer service and to threaten with searches to ‘take as long as you like, including strip search’, is not really a way to resolve a situation or leave a visitor with a good experience.
I would like to try and take my experience to follow through with positive ways forward, rather than be negative and for it to come onto social media as how Cyprus police at Larnaca airport treat the people that come to help their economy. The summer season is not that far off and I am sure publicity would not be ideal.
I would love to find out what my passport was used for while it was out of my possession and out of my sight for the five minutes, that the officer took it off somewhere.