OK here is a query that I am asked more than anything else, apart from the one about ‘will women notice when you are back home together?’. It’s a funny one that touches on other areas – “Oh God, what will happen when I go through security at the airport? They are BOUND to notice”. No they are not and they don’t. And here’s why.
It might appear a fair question, but only because of fear of the unknown, and it is linked to the kind of typical scare stories that you get with things like flying (on a par with the old falsehood one about breast implants blowing up on an aeroplane, totally false, never ever happened).
How do you know? I hear you ask. Well I work in the club business and I travel all over Europe and indeed often to the USA and North America, often using a plane 10 times a month, but always half a dozen times. And it has never ever happened to me that some idiot security official on the conveyor belt or anywhere else has asked anything at all. I always wear my elevators and often with additional lifts. In the days when I wore just lifts, I always made sure these were neat and tidy, just one lift, well fitted into the heel, and again, no-one ever said a thing. Ever. Not even when at Gatwick they started altering the rules and getting each passenger individually (after going through security) to specifically take their shoes off and only your shoes at a different stage just before entering the lounge.
When this first happened I thought “hmmm, I wonder if this will be different?” It wasn’t. As ONLY my boots went through, I was able to keep an eye on what was happening: it was clear that once again they were not looking for me and my elevators!
Now why is this? Well, it’s simple. Security at airports is looking for specific things – it’s the only way they can operate without making everyone strip search. They are not looking for people who wear elevators or lifts, and in all Western countries ethics standards are similar, and they are specifically told NOT to either make personal remarks or to publicly humiliate. All sorts of personal things exist, you have only to consider what these might be. Human rights legislation demands certain standards of behaviour and one of these is not to be humiliated by guys yelling across the concourse about your colostomy bag or underpants.
The way things like elevators or most lifts show up on scanners mean that it is obvious that there is no security risk. Still in the UK (and many other countries but not all now) we have the absurd situation of taking your boots off (it’s an irrelevance and is pointless for security but there you go), but as each time they go through the machine I see the operatives and they bat not an eyelid.
Now it has never happened to me in 15 years of flying. But of course there is an outside chance that some sudden scare might make scanners more aware of different or unusual things. It is clear to me that an operative could notice of course. But so what?
There is an additional consideration here and one that is worth bearing in mind. Always be prepared. Let us say you have had a bad trip, there is a sudden massive scare about footwear, and that the security guard in a country not really covered by human rights legislation takes against you and asks you something about your boots. Well the simple answer is: “I have been advised that I should wear an insole when I fly as it REALLY helps prevent problems over Deep Vein Thrombosis”. Adding “you should try it yourself it REALLY works’” with a smile if it seems right. And no more.
But I have just done a quick add up while writing this, and if I have travelled 1,400 times on a plane in 15 years and never once been questioned, what chance do you yourself think you might have on your travels of being stopped and grilled about your boots?
A caution – if you wear elevators, I think the chances are almost 100% for you. With lifts (or additional lifts as I wear) it is JUST as easy for you to pop these in your bag (go to the toilet on the way through and take them out) if you feel awkward. I always felt that lifts were more likely to be noticed but I say again, mine never have been.
A side point – some worry about taking their shoes/boots off at security and then, shock horror, appearing shorter. Get over it. No-one is looking when you are in that stressful situation and at minor changes like this – they are all fretting about whether someone is gonna have a go at them for taking a packet of chewing gum in their hand luggage or forgetting to take a key out of their pocket. Not interested in ‘littler’ old you. You get the other side, put them back on and continue. I take my 4” elevators off (with their additional lifts!), shove them in the tray, walk through, put everything back in my bags, take the boots off the tray and quickly sit down and put them back on and continue. If you are with someone or people and are really bothered about this aspect, go through first, get it sorted while they are still messing around through security and quickly put your footwear back on. I tend in that situation to not stand up fully. But your fellow travellers will NOT notice because of the stuff I mentioned. For most, however regular, flying is stressful and a time when you are focused on yourself and not others.