Air­port se­cu­rity

Woman & Home - - Influential Women -

“Around 60,000 pas­sen­gers go through Heathrow’s Ter­mi­nal 5 ev­ery day and my job is to keep them safe”

EL­IZ­A­BETH HEGARTY, 33, is head of se­cu­rity at heathrow ter­mi­nal 5, the air­port’s busiest ter­mi­nal. she is sin­gle and lives in ep­ping, es­sex.

My of­fice looks out onto the area where the fa­mous open­ing scenes of love, ac­tu­ally were filmed. all hu­man life – and emo­tion – is here. it’s where fam­i­lies come to­gether, cou­ples are re­turn­ing from their hon­ey­moon. i see the hu­man im­pact of an air­port, as well as the di­ver­sity of peo­ple trav­el­ling through it.

At peak pe­ri­ods, 60,000 pas­sen­gers pass through ter­mi­nal 5 each day, and my job is to keep them safe and get them off the ground as quickly as pos­si­ble. we have reg­u­lar train­ing to up­date the air­port’s se­cu­rity col­leagues on best prac­tice and which ac­tions to take. i lead a team of 1,200, and it is my duty to make sure that my col­leagues are on the ball ev­ery minute of the day.

It never ceases to amaze me what some peo­ple carry in their hand lug­gage. we get pas­sen­gers who’ve packed all sorts of foods, an­i­mals and “per­sonal” items. rep­tiles, for in­stance, which might be fine in some coun­tries, are cer­tainly not ok here! i’ve dealt with pro­fes­sional ball­room dancers car­ry­ing their out­fits who’ll then give us an im­promptu demo at the back of se­cu­rity. an­other mem­o­rable mo­ment was the man with 10 iden­ti­cal watches in his hand lug­gage. we asked him who they were for. “one for each of my wives back home,” he replied. the sto­ries are fas­ci­nat­ing!

The liq­uid ban is still one of our big­gest chal­lenges. many pas­sen­gers still

don’t un­der­stand the rules or sim­ply for­get them. some­one might have

spent a lot of money on a night cream, for in­stance, so we will al­ways give them the op­por­tu­nity to put it in their hold lug­gage. se­cu­rity has changed tremen­dously since i first started in 2004. there wasn’t the level of reg­u­la­tion there is now.

Se­cu­rity tech­nol­ogy is al­ways evolv­ing – and heathrow con­tin­u­ously in­vests in the lat­est to help make ev­ery jour­ney bet­ter. we’re now us­ing bio­met­ric data – a form of fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy – to check that the same per­son who checked in with a cer­tain ticket is the same per­son go­ing through pass­port con­trol and then board­ing the plane. we’re also look­ing at a scan­ner that can anal­yse liq­uids so that, one day, trav­ellers may be able to carry liq­uids again.

Although i know all the rules, i still make mis­takes when i travel, such as, for­get­ting to re­move a lip gloss. my col­leagues think i’m try­ing to catch them out!

I love the in­ten­sity of my role, but i need down­time too. so i en­joy go­ing for walks or vis­it­ing coun­try pubs.


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