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Separation of domestic and international departing pax

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Separation of domestic and international departing pax

Old 16th May 2022, 20:09
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Separation of domestic and international departing pax

In many airports of the world, departing pax whose journey originates in an airport go through a centralised security screening. Once passed, depending on the immigration policy of the country they are departing, they might also go through an exit immigration process, either at a gate, or as a filter towards a number of non-domestic gates. However, the same security screening area covers those departing to both domestic and international destinations

Occasionally, I've flown out of airports built in the last 10 or 20 years, where the route from landside is completely different whether one departs to domestic or international - i.e. entirely separate security screening area, departure lounge, etc
Having a single security screening area for locally originating departing pax probably saves money, and having a separate domestic departures lounge likely reduces the average retail spend per pax. Adding complexity of design in buildings is rarely done without good reason. I should stress I'm not talking about cases where there are 2 or more large and substantially separate terminals - I'm talking about airports of modest size whose terminal could have been designed to have a single departing passenger pathway in one building

There must be a good reason for airports built in the last 20 years to have been designed this way.... so what's the rationale behind this ?
Airports in Europe that follow this design that come to mind include:
Bulgaria - Sofia T2, but strangely not Burgas
Ukraine - Kyiv Zhuliany, Lviv, Odesa, Zaporozhye, Kharkiv
Additionally at these airports, departing and arriving pax are (I think) segregated... so the possibility of an easier pathway for connecting pax doesn't really apply

Apologies for starting another question thread, but there seem to be an awful lot of knowledgeable people on here who are generous with their time in answering questions and I hope I'm not abusing their goodwill.

Last edited by davidjohnson6; 16th May 2022 at 20:40.
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Old 17th May 2022, 01:00
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No apologies needed DJ6. If all questions are about the airline world, then they are fair game here. Thread drift can also be amusing (at times)...
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Old 17th May 2022, 18:20
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Originally Posted by davidjohnson6 View Post
Additionally at these airports, departing and arriving pax are (I think) segregated... so the possibility of an easier pathway for connecting pax doesn't really apply
One consideration must be exactly how much separation there is between the arriving and departing streams.

If international-to-domestic transfers have to clear immigration, and if there is a direct airside transit route for international-to-international passengers, then departing international passengers (who have not cleared immigration) need to be segregated from departing domestic passengers (who either have cleared immigration, or who do not need to because they started their journey inside the country). Otherwise you would risk leakage through the immigration border. So this could be one reason for keeping departing international passengers physically segregated from departing domestic passengers. A well-known UK example of this approach was LHR T1.

Biometrics (the current LHR method) can also be used to create functional segregation without physical segregation. But that has its own costs.

If there is no direct ITI route, then one other consideration would be exit immigration. You'd have to segregate departing international passengers (who have cleared exit immigration) from departing domestic passengers (who have not). I wonder if sometimes the building layout may simply make it easier to have a completely segregated domestic wing.

This isn't just in the last 20 years, though. WLG is one terminal I've used a lot that's built on the lines you've described. I think CHC is the same. And both of those have the additional sophistication that there are domestic flights whose passengers who do not need to clear immigration but do need to clear security, and domestic flights whose passengers who do not need to clear either immigration or security. IIRC, these two airports do it differently: WLG has gate security only at the gates where security clearance is required; CHC separates its gates into two zones, depending on whether security clearance is needed or not for the flight.
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Old 17th May 2022, 21:51
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I did wonder about this at BCN a few weeks ago. Arriving from STN we had to walk *through* passengers who were boarding (having done the gate check). It would have been very easy to join them and board the aircraft. CC don't seem to check boarding passes much these days.

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Old 18th May 2022, 10:45
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One of the reasons given for separation was that pax could swap drugs or bomb making materials between them. Not sure if that still applies.
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Old 18th May 2022, 12:21
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Originally Posted by PAXboy View Post
One of the reasons given for separation was that pax could swap drugs or bomb making materials between them. Not sure if that still applies.
That's certainly a major reason for separating arriving and departing passengers.

As for domestic vs international outbound pax, they will (or should) all have been subject to the same level of security,, but you never know ...
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Old 18th May 2022, 12:52
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In the case of two airports with which I am very familiar.

1. Gatwick. There is no separation between departing domestic or departing international. They all go through the same outbound security check and into the same departure lounge.. BTW all gaterooms are closed. Inbound passengers are separated from departing passengers and domestic and international arrivals are further separated because inbound international passengers have to enter via Border Control and arriving domestic passengers don't.

There is full separation on different floors of the airport buildings between departing and arriving passengers.

2. Denver Colorado. No segregation between departing international passengers and departing domestic passengers. Both use the same security screening checkpoints (there are two). Also in the same mix are arriving domestic passengers who can freely walk amongst the departing passengers, both domestic and international. All gaterooms are open.

The only group which is segregated at Denver is arriving international passengers (the number of arriving international flights each day can be counted on one hand) who have to pass through immigration screening on their way to the international baggage reclaim. International baggage reclaim is completely separate from domestic reclaim which is landside out on the same concourse as the check-in desks.
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Old 19th May 2022, 10:01
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Can't find a reference but I believe this is (within Europe at least) a Schengen thing. I remember being surprised to be mixing inbound and outbound at BRU, but it seems to be throughout the region. No knowledge outside of this region.

HtH
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Old 19th May 2022, 11:24
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Originally Posted by deltahotel View Post
Can't find a reference but I believe this is (within Europe at least) a Schengen thing. I remember being surprised to be mixing inbound and outbound at BRU, but it seems to be throughout the region.
It's pretty simple: passengers can basically be categorised against three criteria:
  1. Are they inside or outside the relevant immigration border?
  2. Are they inside or outside the relevant customs border?
  3. Are they inside or outside the relevant security border (ie have they been acceptably security-cleared)?
Any passenger, whether arriving or departing, can safely mix with another passenger in the same category.

A passenger travelling from one Schengenland country to another Schengenland country is by definition inside the common immigration border at both ends (except in emergency situations). Most of Schengenland is in the EU and therefore inside the common customs border. By intra-Schengen arrangements, such a journey is also usually within a common security border. In most cases, such arriving passengers can therefore safely mix with departing passengers.

But sometimes such a journey will cross a customs border (eg EU --> Norway), so mixing can't occur until after the customs border has been crossed. And in most airports, you cross the customs border after you've had access to checked baggage, at which point you also cross the security border.
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Old 19th May 2022, 13:14
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Thanks Globaliser, neatly set out.
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Old 21st May 2022, 06:10
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To ask a wider question - I still donít understand why whenever you are connecting onto another international flight (or going to a domestic from international), you have to clear security again at the connecting airport.

I would understand if some countries would be classed as high risk, but going from UK-USA and vice versa, is the USA suggesting that the security methods are not good enough? Surely thereís enough cooperation to trust each otherís protocols.
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Old 21st May 2022, 07:53
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Originally Posted by Dannyboy39 View Post
To ask a wider question - I still don’t understand why whenever you are connecting onto another international flight (or going to a domestic from international), you have to clear security again at the connecting airport.

I would understand if some countries would be classed as high risk, but going from UK-USA and vice versa, is the USA suggesting that the security methods are not good enough? Surely there’s enough cooperation to trust each other’s protocols.
Think about it.

It's not a question of where you came from, or how good security was at the origin, it's a question of where all the other passengers on all the other arriving flights with whom you are mixing in the arrivals/transfer area came from.

An airport like Heathrow, for example, with incoming flights from 200+ originating airports, can't possibly take security at all of them on trust.

Last edited by DaveReidUK; 21st May 2022 at 11:31. Reason: typo
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Old 21st May 2022, 20:30
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Originally Posted by Dannyboy39 View Post
I still donít understand why whenever you are connecting onto another international flight (or going to a domestic from international), you have to clear security again at the connecting airport.

I would understand if some countries would be classed as high risk, but going from UK-USA and vice versa, is the USA suggesting that the security methods are not good enough? Surely thereís enough cooperation to trust each otherís protocols.
But "whenever" is not universally true. Some countries will accept other countries' security screening. As I said above, there are intra-Schengen arrangements that mean that security screening in any Schengenland country is usually considered good enough for connection in any other Schengenland country. And within the EU subset of Schengenland countries, this is a big part of what makes all of these international flights feel like domestic flights: no immigration or customs controls, and no repeat security screening if connecting.

Similarly, the Netherlands (and quite a few other EU countries) accept UK security screening. if you fly on BA from London to Amsterdam, you will disembark straight into the departure gate area where you mix with passengers flying from Amsterdam to London without having to clear security again, and you can fly straight back to London without clearing immigration, customs or security at Amsterdam.

If you fly UK-US and then connect to a US domestic flight, you have to be security screened again for this reason if no other: The stream takes you through areas where you have contact with checked baggage. That automatically means that you must be security screened again before any onward flight.

If you fly US-UK and then connect to a UK domestic flight, AFAIK there are no special arrangements at any UK airport for segregating "safe" international arrivals from non-safe arrivals, so everyone must be treated as non-safe and require security screening at the UK transfer airport, as DaveReidUK says. This would apply even if the UK didn't have a rule that (AIUI) trusts no other country's security screening.
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