• Germany's news in English

Munich Airport admits to serious security mistakes

The Local · 22 Jan 2010, 11:57

Published: 22 Jan 2010 11:57 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

According to Bavarian official Christoph Hillenbrand, security workers should have held the passenger when they became suspicious of his laptop, and they should have notified federal police more quickly. Both mistakes went against airport security protocol.

Bavarian broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk reported on Friday that a female security officer was responsible for allowing the man to disappear into the crowd. In surveillance videos the middle-aged, average-looking, English-speaking man put on his jacket, packed up his computer, and simply left the security area “completely calm” instead of staying for a second round of checks.

The woman conducting tests on the computer should not have let the man from her sight, Hillenbrand told the station.

“That is clearly compulsory, it’s in the training,” he said.

After the first mistake, the woman ran after the man, but did not find him. Then security officials waited 10 minutes to alert police, though protocol dictates they should do so immediately.

The events led to a massive police operation of some 1,000 police officers, who secured and closed off parts of Terminal 2. The fourth floor of the terminal, used for flights within Germany and Europe's passport-free Schengen Area, was evacuated and all docked planes were stopped. About 100 flights were delayed or cancelled during the alert.

The man is still at large.

Story continues below…

For now, the woman is not allowed to perform her security duties, but there is apparently no discussion of her being suspended, Hillenbrand told Bayerischer Rundfunk.

As the debate over where to lay blame continues, officials and politicians are asking whether there is enough well-trained airport security and whether they are adequately compensated for the strain of their jobs.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

13:49 January 22, 2010 by Frenemy
Re-post of my comment on another thread (similar relevance):

Precisely THAT mentality ("security" thru *apparent* security, instead of ACTUAL security) is what gets people killed.

DHS operates under the misguided assumption that you can somehow deter terrorists thru a superficial display of strength (which is bullsh!t). "Marketing" has no place in security protocol! (I can't believe German transportation authorities actually view these clowns as roll models)

TSA is staffed by supremely unqualified, GED-possessing, slackers...thats why they're functionally useless. Case closed
13:56 January 22, 2010 by dcgi
Have all the protocols, procedures and scanners you want, but if you can't get the people on the ground to follow them when things like actually happen then its completely worthless. Technology as much as people would like to think it can, can't fill the gap of a security staff member with poor training/skills, it only gives an illusion of security. People need to be fired over this.

Consequently, does anyone know if as part of on-going security checks on staff that they conduct random tests to set off such security alerts?

E.g., plain-clothes security carrying sharp objects through security, suspicious devices with/without traces of explosives, (both in security gates and checked-in luggage)

This would surely be an obvious thing to do in all airports these days, it would also make the job more stimulating & keep security staff constantly alert (the problem of monotony on such a job).. and with *serious* consequences for staff if they didn't meet the % grade of detecting such dangerous items.
14:07 January 22, 2010 by Frenemy
@dcgi: Yes, such "quality control" exists, but those "prod/observe" techniques are utilized with a frequency determined by airport authorities (eg. "FRAPORT" security), which means that there is virtually no higher oversight/protocol-review (read gov't control/regulation)... see any potential problems? ;-)
17:06 January 22, 2010 by ridac
Let's face some facts here before blaming anyone: 1) The security is handled by 3rd company where they force the employees to work very long time for very little (7.5 to 8 € / hour). 2) This company wants to save as much as possible by not conducting any further training or education. 3) They never run any test to check if they can deal with any situation. 4) Clause 1 forces many of well trained employees to seek another better job because increase in salary is not allowed, so you end-up having more and more new faces with no experience.
23:57 January 22, 2010 by Brierley
I was about to proceed to the gate for a flight back to the UK when we were informed the area was closed due to a security issue. After 30 minutes there was an instruction to leave the security area through exits and subsequently all passengers which had passed through security and general airport staff were located in the entrance to the airport along with arriving passengers for check-in.

The crowd was quite significant and in my opinion posed more of a security risk than the ¦#39;chance¦#39; that a man with a suspect laptop was in a controlled area. It is time the security of our airports is reviewed by intelligent people and the right measures are put place to really reduce the risk and not create ludicrous situations and unnecessary delays at security control.

The following morning when I managed to get onto a flight, I had to remove my belt ­ why didn¦#39;t I have to do this the day before and does this really improve security on the flight?
09:06 January 23, 2010 by 1FCK_1FCK
In the US the TSA employees are most probably former Pizza Hut workers. They aren't educated and not terribly bright. Yet these people are our last line of defense against terrorists. They are not allowed to organize in an attempt to gain more benefits or wages. What incentive do they have to do their jobs well? They are the worst of the worst. You get what you pay for, in airport security and everywhere else.
15:27 January 24, 2010 by mixxim
In the USA the hierarchy from President and security services to your military leaders are all seen as 'not terribly bright' and more likely as downright stupid but nevertheless they are not relegated to pizza delivery jobs.
15:49 January 24, 2010 by DoubleDTown
went through Fraport on Friday. At terminal "A" the exit was being watched by one frail old lady security guard. moreover, she was sitting on a chair which was against a wall with her back to the wall and had to turn her head 90 degrees to keep her eye on the exit. How long could she keep that up? How fast could she react to call for help, let alone actually try to stop someone -- I noted she had no visible radio with her. All it would take is one overeager relative to walk past her and not get noticed in time for her to shuffle over and stop him, and they'd have to clear the terminal. How about TWO able-bodied, radio-carrying guards watching the exit instead? After the mess in Munich so recently I was surprised to see such a simply improved weak spot going unimproved.
22:57 January 24, 2010 by Frenemy

I dunno...I think some geriatric could potentially bring the pain with his/her walker or cane/stick!! (old people are mean as hell!!). In fact, assuming they had one and knew how to use it, they'd probably beat you with the Motorola before they used it to call for back-up!!
09:33 January 25, 2010 by MaKo
I quote my Mom:

"So I guess those guys standing around with Uzis aren't much help."
Today's headlines
Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd