You never hear me complaining about the airport security screeners at Frankfurt International Airport in Germany. I travel from FRA on a weekly basis and I have experienced nothing but professional service trip after trip. These men and women are courteous, professional, and they do not mess around with the theatrics that their American counterparts at the TSA constantly engage in. But no one is perfect: I witnessed a verbal shouting match escalate at the priority screening checkpoint near Lufthansa First Class/Star Gold check-in today.
It was just after 1pm when I got to the security line and I was surprised to see a line of about a dozen people snaking outside the security checkpoint. That surprised me because the line rarely has more than a couple people in it no matter what time of day I am traveling. There was a large group of high-school aged boys at the front of the line, some having already gone through security. It looked to be a tennis team, because all their bags were getting a second look and the security screeners were digging through bags and examining tennis rackets.
Not surprisingly, the line was not moving and time was ticking. Five minutes had passed and a German guy in front of me was already swearing under his breath, stomping his feet, and looking at his watch and his boarding pass every few seconds. I was getting annoyed as well, but I had left plenty of time before my flight to have lunch in the Lufthansa Senator Lounge.
Five more minutes passed and the line had only moved a couple feet. The man in front of me, getting angrier by the minute, yelled out in German, “What is going on?” One of the screeners stepped from around the screening belt and yelled back, “Blame the woman over there (pointing to a woman standing nearby who was supposed to be the “gatekeeper” and only allow first class or Star Gold passengers into the line)–she should never had let these people in the premium line.”
The disgruntled passenger looked over at the woman and the woman shrugged and laughed. Oddly, the man laughed too. The woman then quipped that it wasn’t her fault the screeners were so slow. Well, the screener did not take kindly to the good-natured insult and berated the woman for not doing her job. The woman just laughed, which made the screener even angrier.
Then the angry German passenger decided to stand up for the woman (who had delayed him the first place), and told the screener to quit picking on the woman and to just do his job and work a little faster. Now the screener was angry…angry to the point I thought he was going to choke the passenger.
But he walked away. Moments later a second security lane was opened and the line started to move again. The crisis had been averted!
This is the biggest drama I have experienced all year at a Frankfurt security checkpoint. Without the TSA to keep me entertained, airport security is rather dull in Germany…but I am not complaining.