View Full Version : Heathrow T3 Customs-the worst?

12th May 2004, 11:27
This is pure rumour,so I have no hard facts to go on,but amongst those who,i'm sure know better than myself,is it correct what i've heard that the customs officers at LHR T3 are considered to be the worst/most officious/most arrogant in the UK?

This came from a novel i recently read which happened to be written by an ex Immigration Officer at T3 and was supposedly based on fact.

I've been through all the terminals at LHR and have found T1 and T4 to be the friendliest,while T2 and 3 were both staffed (when I went through on many occasions) by extremely officious,rude people.

Interested to hear your thoughts...:confused:

12th May 2004, 12:28
What was the novel?

Can't comment on what you say, but Newcastle had the most arrogant jobsworth I've ever seen on passport control. Took several seconds to scan each passport before handing them back with a look of total contempt to the holder.

el dorado
12th May 2004, 12:38
You should try Princess Juliana Intl. on Sint Maarten, Netherlands Antilles! Most of them don't know what they're there for but they get to wear a uniform and a badge.

Many of them seem to be from Curacao (administrative HQ of NA) and tend to regard themselves as better than their fellow Netherlands Antilleans with inevitable results for co-operation in the workplace. Usually they wait until just before three major carriers unload pax before they decide to go to lunch and leave people standing in the heat.

And did I forget to mention that they give flightcrew even more sxxx? Not a few punchups have occured.......

My favourite one used to walk around with Mills & Boone lovestories with such great titles as "´Having the Boss's Baby".
Couldn't give a flying f... about the job as long as "respect" was forthcoming from all and sundry. What a world.

12th May 2004, 12:44
Perhaps worthy of a separate thread under Immigration - ...

US security checks at the moment require a thorough but random vetting of passengers travelling internally. Generally speaking the staff are professional and courteous but what has puzzled me is how they select pax for what is called SSSS screening - in other words the full monty.

Seems like other than race, hair colour etc other factors can include beards, spectacles, hard brief cases or lap top bags, any shoes apart from sandals, belt wearing passengers, babies in push chairs.

So I guess if you want to avoid a detailed screening - travel with no hand luggage, barefooted and without a belt or babies in tow

Jordan D
12th May 2004, 14:13
Towerman - if you do all that then they would get very suspicious of you and why you are there.

As for bad/overly officious customs agents/passport controls, the worst I've found aren't actually at airports but at London Waterloo International, Paris Gare du Nord and Brussels Midi Stations where the Eurostars operate to/from .... they think that because they aren't at an airport they can give passengers one hellish time.


12th May 2004, 18:12
RUDAS - custom officers and immigration officers are not 'customer service' agents, like cabin crew, pilots etc to whom the punter is king and who are employed to 'serve' those that pay fares.....They are enforcing UK laws and therefore 'rudeness' from a customer service point of view is probably irrelevant.

US immigration and customs are a good example;they take no c*** and at best are probably among the most intimidating in the world - but take a look at their successful no nonsense approach to illegal products and peoples.....I know which I would rather see in the UK.

12th May 2004, 18:31
Have flown through terminal 3 over 100 times, never stopped by customs, so i would find it very hard to say that they were the worst.....

Now on the other hand, try customs in Saudi Arabia...


13th May 2004, 13:42

On the contrary,as the first people most pax come into contact with at their destination,Customs Officials most certainly should present a positive image of themselves as they are often the first impression of the country in question.

You try coming up against some arrogant,half-educated,stroppy lout after a twelve hour or longer flight,and having to explain yourself like a criminal when the only misdemeanour you've comitted was making the bad decision to come and spend your dollars/pounds/euros in their country.Not a pleasant "welcome".

But then again,you're taking the usual "govt department' view,that they're not there as a service,but as an obstacle.

B Sousa
13th May 2004, 14:36
In the U.S. if you come in legally your going to get the basic overview, if you pass, no problem and your on your way. If something does not look right, be prepared to answer the question.
If all else fails do like Millions of other folks do. Come across any one of the borders illegally. Your guaranteed welfare and medical benefits better than those of us who have supported this place.

13th May 2004, 15:00
mutt: "Have flown through terminal 3 over 100 times" Gee, is that why it has all those big holes in it?? Couldn't you just travel through it like the rest of us. :rolleyes:

I have never been stopped by customs when passing through the Green channel at LHR. When I have stopped in the Red and declared goods, I have been treated with great curtesy. Once, in T2 he got awkward but that was 16 or so years ago and the only time.

With Immigration in the US, I was pulled out of the queue at JFK one time (March '03, I think) and given closer questioning and my bag gone through but it was a 'light' examination and I was on my way. They behaved well.

As with all of these groups. Do your best from the start, even if they do not. You can be 99% certain that it's on CCTV and if you are shown to be 'reacting' from the start, they are going to crawl all over you. They may also be tired and hot and uncomfortable but don't give them any reason to be unreasonable. In the USA, they need no invitations and WILL be horribly 'firm'.

Akrotiri bad boy
13th May 2004, 19:30

You may well have endured a 12 hour flight sitting down . However the officers in the terminal may well have endured a 12 hour shift standing up

Just answer their questions.

14th May 2004, 06:58
Plus, a warm welcome and maybe a kiss on the cheek is not their job. :ok:

Boss Raptor
14th May 2004, 07:04
Have to agree with Paxboy - 15-20 years ago UK Customs were abrupt, unpleasant and could be very arrogant and rude (like most Customs the world over)...certainly not the case generally now as they are very polite and do give the impression they'll keep you as little time as possible...

Cant say LHR T3 at any time has ever been any worse than any other UK airport in my experience

14th May 2004, 16:56
RUDAS - but you seem to miss my earlier point, i.e that customs officials are not there to stand around smiling like Cheshire cats, but to enforce UK laws - maybe you feel threatened by their powers to stop and search...... but don't be, unless you're carrying something you shouldn't!

14th May 2004, 20:02
I find it hard to believe that Customs staff would actually be terminal specific. Don't they have a pool system and they just draw a rota to whatever terminal they've been allocated? I've travelled through all of London Airports for years and I've never experienced bolshy Customs Officials... in fact in the Green Line, you don't experience very much at all...