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Article from BTNews 26 SEPTEMBER 2016

COMMENT: Female only security lanes

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, major hub and something of an alternative to Hong Kong, has introduced three security lanes solely for female passengers to help those uncomfortable with the scrutiny of male guards.  It must be pointed out that all airports are supposed to offer a same gender ‘pat down’.  The women’s lanes, which are marked in pink, are expected to help cut queues in general.

"Women usually need more time to get through security in airports, therefore opening such security lanes for women will certainly help the airport operate more smoothly," He Ying, an official from the country’s All China Women’s Federation, told the English-language newspaper China Daily.

"Opening a women's security lane, like increasing women's toilets, only shows care for women, not discrimination," she added.

The women-only aisles are managed by female security guards and allow children of either gender to join their mothers.

“Women passengers usually bring more articles to board planes, and we usually remind them to prepare in advance for security checks for their articles, including cosmetics, mobile phones, iPads and their personal belongings, to help save time," Liang Yanfei, one of the female security guards, told China Daily.

Guangzhou is not the first airport in China to try female-only security lanes.  Earlier this year Beijing Capital International Airport did likewise at three of its terminals.  So too have airports in the Chinese metropolises of Shenzhen, Kunming and Wuhan.

The lanes at Beijing Airport, which are also each marked by pink notice boards that read “female only” in Chinese and English, are significantly more efficient than other lanes, according to officials. They claim unisex lanes can handle 120-130 passengers per hour, while the female aisles can process up to 150.

However several airports in China, including in Shanghai, Chengdu and Tianjin, are reported to also offer male-only security lanes, to help reduce the security checking times for men.  These are claimed to be 10% to 15% quicker than the other lanes, with security checks, which normally take around 40-50 seconds to complete, taking 30 seconds to complete on men-only lanes.

Earlier this year, a women-only bus was introduced in the city of Zhengzhou in eastern China to help reduce the number of incidents concerning female passengers.  This annoyed male travellers patiently waiting for their transport only to see the ‘girl’ buses flash buy half empty. 

BTN also notes that last summer, Germany’s Frankfurt Airport sparked controversy by introducing women’s car parking spaces painted in pink.  They were built with wider bays, brighter lights, greater CCTV coverage, and were closer to the airport.

Airport officials defended the move, claiming it is required by law that “at least 5% of public car park spaces must be specified women's spaces” in Frankfurt. Some German states are said to require as much as 30% of their public parking spaces to be reserved for women.

At the other end of the scale there appears to be an increase in the number of public conveniences open for any gender, the argument being that with single cubicles two separate areas are not required, with general use washing facilities provided. It is a more efficient use of space.

With space a premium, and many airports not originally designed for the large security areas now essential, whether ladies only lanes will catch on at airports outside China remains to be seen.  The disruption may not be worth the trouble.

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