“Framed, Arrested, And Robbed By The Police At Frankfurt Airport”

Goodness gracious. A Huffington Post contributor published a story this month entitled “Framed, Arrested and Robbed by the Police in Frankfurt: A Not-So Funny Thing Happened on my Way to the Forum in Delhi.” Since the story had a picture of Frankfurt Airport, I couldn’t help but click. The story is unnecessarily long, at over 4,000 words, so read at your own risk.

The lady in question claims to be a professor at Georgetown University, a national security expert, and a very frequent flyer. That makes this story even crazier, in my opinion.

Her version of the story is so unnecessarily wordy and includes so many details that don’t matter, so let me try to boil it down as much as possible:

  • Due to a mechanical delay she was rebooked onto another flight at Frankfurt Airport, and headed to the security checkpoint
  • When they did an explosives check, her bag tested positive; this is rare, but I’ve had it happen before, and it’s normal for them to then call over the police
  • Based on her account of the situation, she comes across as extremely annoying and impatient; she’s concerned about missing her flight, and from the very first moment seems argumentative with the security officers
  • Eventually the topic turns to how she has too many liquids in her bag, and specifically, about how her solid deodorant causes her to exceed the limit; I get it, it’s ridiculous that solid deodorant is considered to be a liquid for these purposes, but in Germany it is
  • Suddenly she doesn’t care anymore about whether or not she makes her flight, but now she makes it her personal mission to make sure she schools them on solid deoderant
  • Based on her writing style, it sure seems like she’s incredibly aggressive and confrontational towards the officers (“Inspector Clouseau and his daft sidekick was too busy impounding my solid deodorant and offering various preposterous explanations for why it was a liquid when it was clearly a god-damned solid to notice the fellow conspicuously sporting the preferred coiffure of the Hitler’s Youth”)
  • She wants to file a complaint against the police officers, and she claims they threaten to arrest her for doing so, though she also acknowledges that they’re threatening to arrest her for being a “belligerent and rude passenger”
  • She claims that she says out loud “the crack German police have seized my deodorant…but they don’t seem to care about that Nazi-looking dude over there!”
  • At that point they take her into custody in the police station, and fine her; she claims that the officer claimed she called him a Nazi, while she claims she called someone else a Nazi (regardless, just stop)

That’s as much as I can boil down the story in a simple way. I try to be as balanced in these stories as I can. I understand there’s a lot of abuse of power out there. I also don’t want to “mansplain.” But I’m sorry, this lady comes across as a nut.

First she’s super concerned about missing her connection, then she’s willing to miss her connection over a pointless deodorant battle, and in all of this she isn’t exactly acting like a model traveler. Your deodorant has nothing to do with the “Nazi-looking dude over there.”

The woman is now being sued by the German police, as they allege she called them “f*cking bastards” and f*cking German Nazi police.”

Ultimately we don’t know exactly what happened. We don’t know what she called the officers and what she didn’t. Is it possible the police officers may have crossed the line? Perhaps. One thing is for sure, though — the traveler crossed the line. She was unnecessarily argumentative, she went from being very concerned about missing her flight to agreeing to miss it over deodorant, and at a minimum (by her own account) she called someone “Nazi-looking.”

What do you make of this story?

Comments

  1. Use of the word “daft” and absurd overuse of “Nazi,” immediately stop reading.

    Thank you Germany. Please feel free to keep this pompous wind-bag for as long as you’d like.

    Sincerely,
    USA

  2. Well Lucky, you have to consider the source. Spend a little time over at Huffpo and you will fully understand why she acted the way she did. Calling someone you disagree with a nazi and any other wide range of ***ist is acceptable practice in her world. Being an entitled ass at an airport [particularly a foreign one] is almost always a really bad idea. Thanks for the great blog and thanks for the cliff notes version of events.

  3. In Germany you cannot toss around allegations of someone being a Nazi freely like that. Unless the person is actually a member of the Third Reich, doing so is illegal.

    Also, having transited or flow through MUC (Munich), FRA (Frankfurt), and TXL (Berlin – Tegel), I doubt the story as the German law enforcement / police have been some of the most consistent and protocol following people ever.

  4. Without wishing to be done for libel, one could perhaps be forgiven for asking if she is actually a nutter with an apparent vendetta against Germans.

    I dont see what the police did wrong on Twitter – i thought their reply was respectful and sensible!

    As for the deodorant, I think this is EU-wide – I have always seen it classified as a liquid at airports.

  5. Crazy, utterly crazy. If your plastic carry-on Ziploc of liquids has something they want then just hand it over and let it go. Even if it isn’t a liquid!

    Two years ago a Sydney airport security grandpa-type fixated on my carry-on sunscreen because it was in a 3.5oz container, which is just barely over 100ml. He had some very harsh words about the container, 3.5oz was strictly forbidden, etc. My reply was: “You are absolutely right, what a horrible mistake. I never should have bought this, please take it, I am so terribly sorry, etc.” That’s the only acceptable response that works well. This “distinguished associate professor” has definitely done something to her reputation as a result of a deodorant that costs uh like $1.29 at Bed, Bath & Beyond?

  6. @jerry the Huffpost has nothing to do with whom that writer is or what she does, but thank you for suddenly turning this topic political. you can always count on a conservative to do so.

  7. This is the last sentence on her own bio from her homepage, linked to from her twitter”

    “She can cause trouble in multiple languages.”

    What’s more to be said?

  8. There is two issues here: The general behavior of the woman in question (and yes I agree, it’s quite in line with the fact that her Wikipedia entry has a longer “criticism” (of her) section than all her bio), and the Frankfurt security check, which I think in the context of OMAAT is worth restating for fellow travelers. And again here are two related features that are worth pointing out and that both happened to me, if not at the same time: Defining solids as liquid, and the trigger-happy explosives screener.

    The latter is indeed as Ben summarizes: It goes off quickly and almost randomly; for the second test, two armed officers must be present. To get them there takes time, and the check as well, because even if you test negative the 2nd time (which I did as well), they have to check all your small items in the carry-on. Lesson: If this is a flight you have to catch, give yourself 20 minutes extra to leave the lounge, and pack orderly (meshbags) and nothing you’d find embarrassing to show to security. The officers in my case were quite suspicious and unfriendly when they came and started their interrogation, by the way, and only relaxed after they found a Bundesverdienstkreuz lapel pin in my trolley. 🙂

    Second, the bizarre way how FRA security interprets liquid: In my case, the issue was this firm fruit preserve from Brazil you eat sliced (!) with soft cheese (Guava?). It was only $5 but it was not liquid. One of the officers then said, “Yeah at THIS temperature!” which is bizarre because about anything gets liquid at the right heat. When I demurred, in the end there were seven officers around me, some armed and one with a dog. So okay, time to move on, but I asked for a receipt, and they said they couldn’t give me one. That is actually against German law, which I mentioned, so one officer said, “Well, there are anyway too many laws here.” But you need to know when to drop things, unless it is a serious civil rights care you are prepared to fight through all the way, including FRA detention cells.

    So never mind that horrible Georgetown woman – as we are advised here, don’t fight with security personnel when flying if you want to arrive in time; that includes Germany. Bottom line for Frankfurt: Delays caused by the explosives scanner are easily possible and should be calculated in; and their definition of liquid is, shall we say, creatively independent from physics. But it makes no sense to fight, and if they want to remove something from you, let it go.

  9. Her “article” also has some mistakes, which could be sloppy research or just ignorance. She says “Frankfurt Airport is routinely decried as one of Europe’s worst airports” and put a CNN hyperlink to back up that claim. That made me wonder since I don’t think Frankfurt is terrible. It’s not great either but there are certainly many airports in Europe that are a lot worse. And surely enough, Frankfurt Airport is listed as no. 5 of the most convenient airports in Europe, whereas Frankfurt-Hahn is listed as no. 3 least convenient airport. And CNN even says in the header over the Frankfurt-Hahn listing “Not to be confused with Frankfurt Airport”. So she is either a sloppy writer, ignorant or simply stupid.

  10. Wow! Some of the above posters are incredibly lazy.

    I have no idea if Fair overreacted (it would seem so) but to call her a peacenik or typical crazed HuffPost poster displays incredible ignorance.

    A simple Google search of her resume and views clearly shows she is not an unabashed dove. She is pro drone for goodness sake!

    In the future do a little research before you jump to conclusions about someone.

  11. Freedom of speech laws outside US are much more narrower. While offensive speech cannot be restrained in the US, one cannot goto germany and use the word nazi carelessly.

    At the sametime, the insensivity of the fra airport security officers is appalling. Often we face the same insensitivity from tsa here and begin to accept it as the new “normal”.

    No Lucky, the fra airport security could have handled the situation better. TPG too blamed Dr Dao for the united incident initially before switching sides. Hope you do too.

  12. Accusing and attacking someone you disagree with, as a Nazi is very popular in some communities these days.

    She would have fully complied and never threw a tantrum if this was in Beijing, Dubai, Doha etc. Something about western countries that triggers them.

    Have another +1 Jerry.

  13. What does Peace and Security Studies entail?

    Jerry & Andy – you shooting the messenger here picking on HuffPost which its content spans a variety of political thoughts unlike your FOX “News”, Breitbart, and other garbage!

  14. She doesn’t sound like a “ very frequent flyer,” because if she were she would realize that secondary screening (especially at international airports) is a somewhat common practice. I average about once every six to eight international trips. And furthermore, even if it is highly annoying, an experienced flyer would know to just go with the flow – answer questions, forfeit your cosmetics and other “contraband” and move on. I’ve had lipstick and mascara taken and even a half eaten prosciutto and cheese panini at JFK upon reentering from Rome last year. Any one with two brain cells functioning would know not to insult German Security Agents. The result was predictable and she has no one to blame but herself.

  15. In general, I try not to argue with people who are wearing uniforms and carrying guns. I’m pretty sure I’m not bullet-proof and don’t particularly want to put it to the test. Just suck it up as the price you pay for being a guest in someone else’s country.

  16. An academic and Professor and security expert my a..
    Referring to someone as a nazis in Germany is not taken lightly

    It’s also fortunate she was in Europe

    She was upset but escalated the situation and deserves her fate

    She sounds like total uneducated a.. hole

    Hopefully gets sent back to the US and inadmissible to the EU

    The airline will have it reported she missed her flight as she was disruptive at security

    And it will reflect so well on her employer

  17. On a different note, how can a bag test false positive for explosives ? If a bag tests positive for explosives, it sounds serious to me. But why would fra police take their own time to arrive ? Is this a common occurrence?

  18. @VJ because there are fewer armed border guard / police couples (always two) than security lanes with screening devices, especially in T2, and because (as in my case, as I was told) it can be lunch time. 🙂

  19. She sounds absolutely crazy. No excuse to behave that way, just 100% unacceptable.

    On a separate note, I was surprised by the very brusque security behaviour at FRA in December. Passed security without issue, then asked for secondary screening of my bag. All good. They did the drug/explosives (?) swab, but then the woman immediately screamed ‘police’ in German. I clearly thought I was in some kind of inexplicable trouble as I’ve never been in touch with either, and of course the swab was clean. The aggressive police officer inspected my passport closely, asked me lots of questions, they searched my bag, then said “fine”. At that point some of my stuff had fallen on the floor during the search – no one cared. I had to pick it up while repacking.

    At the time of the search, they asked ‘German or English’? I chose English as my spoken German isn’t particularly good. However, I then overheard them talking in German about me in a ‘stupid idiot foreigners’ kind of way. I very badly wanted to tell them off in my limited German but obviously kept quiet. I don’t think I’ve encountered anything quite as rude in many years of business travel! And also very surprised as I’ve never had that in FRA before.

  20. “Solid deodorant” is actually a gel, and at least in the US, gels are considered liquids.

    The rules about liquids are as stupid here as they are in Europe, but it makes absolutely no sense to have a conniption about it with the officers, who are just trying to do their jobs. They didn’t make the rules.

    I guess even associate professors can be idiots.

  21. well maybe I could give a 50-50 for the trustworthiness of this story. Knowing the german officials and their frequently arogant style, especially this against people of colour or minorties, (I reckon she has non european appareance), so I could give some trust for the story, but I also see this lady wants to get some kind of vengeance on the police or security. I think both side made their mistakes in this situation, and the lady’s agressive behavior helped the things to escelate to a fair worse position.

  22. This doesn’t surprise me. When I was at Georgetown Law one of my professors came back from break to tell us he was no longer allowed to fly. At all. He decided to get into a philosophical discussion with the TSA about the nature of freedom and the false sense of security created by the measures they used and warrentless search. This was three months after 9/11. Knowing the guy I’m guessing it wasn’t a particularly civil conversation and he refused to allow his bag to be searched. I still laugh when I think about it. I hope he continues to be on the no fly list.

  23. If this woman had behaved like she did in Germany in New York, she would have been thrown in jail. Read the HuffPost article and her Twitter feed. This is the definition of white privilege.

    I also suspect this woman seems to hate Germany.

  24. Glad this happened to her, I wish they would have kept her there… sure sounds like and over-entitled clown in need of a lesson

  25. Thank God she didn’t make it to Delhi. She should definitely not be uncooperative with the CISF commandos in Indian airports.

  26. Hope she travels to … let´s say Egypt, Cambodia, Pakistan, Uganda or Honduras anytime soon. Or any other country where rule of law clearly doesnt apply. Anyone fancies a bet she does these kinds of stunts again?

  27. See you next Tuesday!

    On behalf of Americans who already suffer due to one idiot in DC, maybe the Germans can keep her for a few years.

  28. Americans should be aware that foreign countries often apply TSA rules more strictly than TSA officers in the USA, because they know they will get in big trouble with *the Empire* if they are caught not doing so. I’ve found airport security for flights to the USA to be much more strict in Guatemala, France or the United Arab Emirates than in the United States.

  29. Agreed. There are too many self righteous academics in the US that whine just to be heard and to hear themselves speak. Give up the thick liquid deodorant and move on.

  30. Her rant regarding her flight in 2014 is beyond boring. She obviously had nothing better to do

    Regarding staff and unless they were
    uniformed how does she know who they were and what they paid and further BS about “ we pay their salary “.

    To the all knowing professor, many airline staff actually buy confirmed tickets as they don’t want the hassle of standby and when booked in advance it’s often not much more expensive on some routings

    Furthermore I doubt she even pays for her tickets and it’s a third party

  31. Makes sense that “solid” deodorant is not permitted through. Essentially it is a hardened paste / cake like substance. Same goes for hair wax / putty , lip balms, tooth paste.

    Yes it’s the liquids rule, but essentially security is there to stop explosive like substances. That’s the focus, technically not just looking at liquids by definition.

    Airports that aren’t screening such substances , they’re taking a more relaxed approach to security , rather than EU airports having ridiculous rules.

  32. Another thought: if this woman is prosecuted and found to have engaged in criminal activity, shouldn’t her visa-waiver privileges for the Schengen area be removed and she forced to secure a visa in advance for travel/transit within the Schengen area?

  33. This woman is white. She is not a dark skinned Indian. The police did not arrest her because of any racist motives against dark skinned people.

    She should have used creative solutions, such as stuffing the quart sized bag tighter. She might have been able to make it fit and then it would be permitted. Either that or check it in. Or say that she was going to check it in then hide it.

    Confession: In 2001, nail clippers were banned because they have a little sharp part, which was deemed as a security risk. “I hijack this plane to Afghanistan or I will use this nail clipper to decapitate you!!!!” Ha ha, impossible and even if possible, I would never say or do that. I then said I would check it in but, on the way to the ticket counter changed my mind.

    There is a Wikipedia discussion to not put this story in her biography. Feel free to participate. Wikipedia needs more normal people for discussions. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:C._Christine_Fair

  34. This person is an idiot. I hope she gets slapped by the German legal system to the fullest extent possible. I have plates and pins in my legs due to a work accident. I regularly get stopped my security at all manner of institutions when I set the metal detector off. Its something I deal with. It’s amazing what a smile can do. That’s something that this one cell Huffington POst contributor needs to learn.

  35. Reading Lucky’s summary, I was already thinking: “Sounds like the rant of a middle aged female, probably unmarried.” I then clicked on her website — I was right.

  36. People think they can say and do as they please in a foreign country. The German police are very professional and go through years of police academy training, and when they get promoted go through even more years of schooling. I would say they are the gold standard in western style policing. That said, they are also not to be trifled with. They do not play and will hand you your rear, signed sealed and delivered. She thought she was in the US and dealing with overworked underpaid TSA agents. Oops. She gonna learn today!

  37. The folks at FRA security are not to be trifled with. One of them thought seeing a dangerous item took my carry-on, opened it and just turned it upside down so everything fell out. The dangerous item in question was a bookmark. I hadn’t been packing for 2 seconds when the ‘gentleman’ screamed at me to ‘speed it up’.

    AFAIK FRA, like many other German airports, employs unqualified and lowly paid security agents and the ‘I don’t give a F’ mentality seems to be a requirement to get the job.

    That being said, the German cops are the complete opposite. Friendly and always trying to deescalate things. If you accuse everyone of being a nazi, then you’re a lost case…

  38. I had the same story in Frankfurt Airport at transit security my handbag tested positive for explosive, few minutes later police arrived and they checked my Passport, we had a nice chat, while security checked my bag and few min later I was on the way to the gate.

  39. The officers at Frankfurt airport just doing their job. I pass threw Frankfurt every month and i find them very friendly and awfully handsome.
    By any chance was the women in question Jewish??

  40. @ William D

    For what it’s worth: the gel deodorant is NOT considered a liquid at EU airports ( I’ve had it taken out of the plastic bag when it has been bulging and specifically told that, including Frankfurt).
    Being a screening agent must be a thankless , pretty miserable job . Most of them, regardless of country, do it with medium to good grace; perhaps a small number are gruff or on a power trip.
    She led with her chin on this and seems genuinely surprised that it didn’t end well. Likely she’s teaching an MBA program.

  41. First, none of us want to miss connections because of security, but honestly, politeness and courtesy go a long way to mitigating any delays. And the general rule of thumb – if security doesnt like something in your hand luggage, just give it up or get out of line, go back to the counter, and check it.

    Second, who in their right mind accuses someone of being a Nazi…in Germany…let alone when that someone is a cop? The police in Germany take that sort of thing VERY seriously.

  42. The security staff at FRA are the most arrogant and rudest I have ever encountered at any airport. They have absolutely zero interpersonal and professionalism training. I don’t know if this is only the case because I am a foreigner. My experience with transfers at AMS and LHR are far far better. I read the article in HuffPost and I agree, she sounds crazy, but I can understand how someone can get frustrated with security at FRA.

  43. The craziest part is that she thinks the article to be a good idea. If she tried something like that in China she could continue her article series from prison.

  44. She is a Professor at Georgetown University and specializes in South Asian security. She has published various papers on this subject. Based on her Instagram her leanings are progressive/left. What a great role model for academia!

  45. @VJ, offensive speech can be prosecuted in America, Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Accept the Consequences. Also, in regard to your comment about a false positive, When I was in America, at IAD, the security agent (they’re not officers, after all), didn’t change his gloves or the drug swab between the 7 people in front of me and me, or after me either, as I was waiting for my stuff to come out, I saw he didn’t change them. That could result in a false positive.

  46. Put me up to it, pay me and I can escalate any trivial disagreement to a full fledged incident like this. The goal in life, however is to deescalate, not escalate. the exception might be when you hope to get paid for writing about it.
    I have found some in FRA to be rude or simply following rules which are to do their job and let others do their job of helping with information.
    The security staff (those doing TSA type of checking) have always been very polite and patient. This was even true when I was checking in baggage to a very secure country and the XRay view looked very scary. I was politely surrounded by police till one experienced person asked if I was carrying ankle weights.

  47. “That made me wonder since I don’t think Frankfurt is terrible. It’s not great either but there are certainly many airports in Europe that are a lot worse.”

    Like Berlin-Schönefeld, for example. Definitely my worst airport experience out of 30+ countries last year. Should have been torn down long ago, except they can’t because for some odd reasons they just can’t seem to open up the new Berlin airport due to gross incompetence. Oh well.

  48. The fact that she wrote an article chronicling her trevail is some of the best evidence of her myopia. How much support was generated for her here?

  49. I’m not sure what surprises me more. That Lucky can be so oblivious in spite of having “traveled” the world as much as he has; or how many of his readers are unabashed white supremacists. Have any of you ever heard of empathy?

  50. “In general, I try not to argue with people who are wearing uniforms and carrying guns.” — Best advice of the day. Especially in a country in which you are not a citizen.

  51. My approach at security , like most of your readers , is ” Tell me what you need so I can get on the plane ” Worse than a waste of time to argue .
    Nazi is a serious insult anywhere but especially in Germany . Fortunate she didn’t get any bruises because of that .
    My experience in Germany was to be treated like an adult and expected to act like one.
    She deserves no fly status or at least no Europe status.

  52. Gee, I’m torn here! Before reading Karl’s comment I would have just labeled her a “Huffy” diva wishing to throw a temper tantrum. You know the type, book smart and street stupid. But I’m sure that too would lack empathy.

  53. she is a famous prefessor and an authority on South Asia politics. She is a very arrogant lady. Not surprised by her behaviour

  54. @Kellyanne Conway — the professor who engaged in this behavior was a rich, highly-educated white woman.

  55. I’ve been treated rudely at two airports in Germany, one was Frankfurt. The agent pushed me and took my wallet. He ordered me to turn around while he went through the wallet. I refused to turn around because I had a good amount of money in the wallet. He yelled at me. It was quite unnerving. Since I was treated rudely and it happened twice and only in Germany I think there is a problem. Every other airport, even when they thought there was something suspicious I’ve always been treated with respect.

  56. I have German Citizenship, but choose to use my US Passport, so I am not separated from my spouse I am probably the most polite and cooperative person you will ever come across. I speak German, and, I have had some abominable experiences at German Airports. Have found the ‘security theater” to frequently go way over the top, with people in uniforms who regularly go on very unwarranted power trips. Transiting from SIN to JFK, during the stopover in Frankfurt for refueling, with no positive findings of any kind, after going through security twice, and having gone through special inspection, my wife and I were isolated from each other, not allowed to communicate, our shoes removed, carryons completely emptied, and it took an intervention from the Singapore Airlines supervisor to have us released. The young policeman who singled us out from the group getting ready to board for this event told me clearly that he did not have to give me any explanation for being treated the way we were. I reiterate, I can be ridiculously polite under adverse circumstances and confrontations, and know better than arguing with drunks or people on power trips.

  57. Security at Frankfurt are very tough, I got shouted at for stepping through the transit security check before the guy was ready , and he shouted at me in German which I cannot understand . I told him” I do not speak German” and he asked me ” are you being difficult ”? I just said sorry and waited until he was ready, then he called me through in English when he was ready.
    I felt his remark was unneccesary . Was I being too sensitive ?

  58. I have been in a similar situation in FRA in the A terminal last year with my 15 year old daughter. She was supposedly in trouble for packing her (clearly solid) deodorant in her carry on and they argued that it was a liquid, which for a 15 year old with some common sense obviously makes no sense…..viscosity wise its not even a gel…..
    They separated her from me and since none of the security screeners spoke good German or good English (among themselves, they were always talking Turkish and some Eastern European language), she had very a hard time understanding them (she knows quite a bit of German) and answering their questions.
    The FRA employees were incredible rude and condescending to her and pushed it to the point where she started to cry. At that point, they suddenly let her go (with her solid/liquid whatever it is now deodorant).

  59. Perhaps she didn’t act properly, perhaps the German authorities did not act properly either. But given the number of complaints of rudeness by security personnel there should be an attempt to teach the screeners how to de-escalate a situation and proper manners in dealing with foreigners.

  60. I regularily fly through FRA and have never had a problem with deodorant, but I have had my computer bag test “positive” for explosives. I am a frequent flyer and only in FRA is my bag “postive.” When I complained to the police officer, they claim it’s because of “terrorism.” Not agreeing with the idiot who penned the article, but FRA has some questionable scanners.

  61. @Marina, you mean “defuse,” not “diffuse.”

    @Jim, your misogyny is showing! So this is how all middle-aged, unmarried women will behave? But then, the misogyny in many of these comments stinks to high heaven, not at all hard to detect.

    Yes, this woman acted like a fool and will no doubt now pay the price legally. Apart from that, and the fact that I just learned solid deodorant is really liquid, there’s really no story here — unless your life really dull and empty and you need to fill it with low-value content like this.

  62. It’s an airport lady. And if you’re a “frequent traveller,” you’d know that for the safety of yourself, and others, you follow the instructions for airport security.

    She was lucky it was Germany, and not the US, where she might have been deported on the spot!

    p.s. I live in Germany, and calling anyone a Nazi on German soil, is illegal, a crime, and absolutely unacceptable.

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