View Full Version : Should a 3.2cm long blunt tapestry needle be prohibited from the cabin?

19th Aug 2004, 21:31
After flying all over the world on various airlines, doing her cross-stitch to while away the time, my wife had her needle removed by officious cabin crew on a flight this evening, as being an item that she could lose control of in turbulence and could fly off and injure another passenger. She has many friends who also fly doing their cross-stiching and they have never encountered this problem.

After arguing with these ******, the matter was it is believed, referred to the captain, who deemed this small blunt gold needle, a prohibited item. It was removed by cabin crew and handed back on landing. We have been told by airlines used up to today including todays carrier, that there is no problem in carrying and using such a needle on flights and that it is not a prohibited item, as it is specially designed as blunt and small ( and was made even smaller in length, to 3.2 cm, after 9/11). There is no problem with any airport security screening.

Is this just a set of over officious crew trying to make passengers lives as miserable as possible, being unable to back down and admit they are wrong?

20th Aug 2004, 07:48
Is this just a set of over officious crew trying to make passengers lives as miserable as possible, being unable to back down and admit they are wrong?

I have to admit that it sounds as though you are correct, and that somebody was rather overly zealous (at least) in their interpretation of the rules, and then having mishandled the situation, had backed themselves into a position from where retreat was difficult. The first rule of confrontation is to give yourself, and your immediate superior, if called in, room to manouever, backwards if necessary. Although I haven't seen the needle in question, I can't imagine that I would have done the same as this crew.

The only thing that I would disagree with is your assertion that the crew might have set out with the intention of making pax lives miserable. This appears to have been the effect, due to a misplaced sense of duty, or a misunderstanding of the rules, but I doubt that the Crew went to work that day (or any other) with the specific intention of making pax miserable.

I'm anxious not to attempt to defend the indefensible, but am trying to assist with "background". Many rules can be complex, and open to interpretation: Cabin Crew are human, and therefore make mistakes or have a different understanding.

20th Aug 2004, 13:21
I think the real issue today is one of consistency in policing all safety rules/regulations and the lack of common sense in a lot of them.

A year or so back I checked into an AA flight to JFK and was asked to hand over any lighters/matches etc.. I did so and then went into W.H. Smith airside, bought another and took it on board with me!

One of many regulations which when looked at in terms of the whole flight/waiting/access point of view make no sense whatsoever.

Just my $0.02.


20th Aug 2004, 17:34
Very grey area!
As crew we are told to be aware of anything..YES ANYTHING which could be easily considered a dangerous item or weapon and i can see how an innocent knitting needle could be considered a weapon as I for one would have removed it had I seen it.
However, there are obvious ways of doing this that shouldnt be considered a way of making a passengers life a misery or creating an embarrassing confrontation. I for one would quietly explain to the passenger about why I am removing it and indeed apologise for doing so. The few times iv done similar the passengers usally sit back and have a bit of an understanding giggle. And I prob would have just left it with the captain in the flight deck until after the flight when it could be reunited with the owner!
I recently had an oval shaped metal keyring with a rubber edge on it which was taken from me at a US airport because it was considered potentially a threatening item!!!! Now this thing couldnt slice through butter but there you go!!!!

Oh...and before i forget....My Aunt just told me that you can buy cardboard knitting needles designed for travelling by air as they would simply crumple up if one tries to stab someone!!!! Just a thought for you people eager to knit some crimbo presents!

20th Aug 2004, 19:27


You say that a security jobsworth took away your keyring and you dont think it was in anyway dangerous........but just before this you say you would have taken away an old ladies knitting needles and have done a similar thing in the past, commentingThe few times iv done similar the passengers usally sit back and have a bit of an understanding giggle This implies you and the pax concerned know what you are doing is petty/pointless/stupid/whatever, BUT YOU STILL CONFISCATED SOMETHING FROM A PAX!!!!

If everyone involved in the industry would just turn around one day and say 'enough!! lets use common sense!!' then maybe things would change for the better.

You never know, you may actually find that everyone gets less stressed out and half of these 'Air Rage' type incidents might not happen.

OK, Rant off. Sorry, but I am one of an increasing number of pax that is finding that the whole hassle of flying post 9/11 such pain due to petty rules enforced to cover someone elses arse/make certain poeple in authority feel important/make politicians look like they are doing something!!

Regards, SD..

21st Aug 2004, 05:17

My wife was initially, some 30 mins into the flight, requested to put her cross stitching away, because of the needle being it was said "a potential hazzard to other passengers, if their was turbulence". She pointed out to the steward, who had been despatched with the request, by the senior cabin crew member, to deliver the request, that it was no such thing. The needle is specifically designed for cross stich use, being tiny and blunt. It is used to guide threads through the open holes in the fabric/canvas. It does not pierce the fabric and is attached to the fabric by the thread and a magnet, to ensure that it cannot drop/fly/or be lost. This cut no ice with the crew member. My wife duly stored the whole stitching, including the needle, in a purpose made canvas carrying bag and placed it under the seat.

The senior member however, reopened the debate some 45 minutes later, when she appeared to request that the needle was handed over. As it was stowed, it was of no danger, no matter how miniscule, to anyone on board.

I can now see how this senior member of staff backed the captain into a corner by their OTT attitude, with him having to support his crew member, even if wrong. For that member of staff to claim that she and the captain had looked the item up on a list(?) and it was a prohibited item, appears to be another fabrication.

There was simply no need for the second confrontation and no good reason for the first.

The cabin staff member's smug attitude and the smile to her face at the end of the flight, when she handed back the needle in a grossly oversized container upon disembarking was again unnecessary and condesending.


Please note the miniscule size of the needle in question, it could not be constructed of cardboard. It is not a knitting needle, which I understand is a prohibited cabin bag item.

Boss Raptor
21st Aug 2004, 08:40
Think it is time to name and shame the airline concerned...

The problem is particularly with the larger carriers the interpretation/implementation of security briefings/procedures/regulations by flight crew members can differ massively from the company's intent - and let's face it anyone (in the industry) who has tried to comprehend exactly what most of the (illconceived) drivel from TSA and Av. Maritime Security Agency in UK actually means - no one knows, not even them!

Frankly the 'needles might harm pax. or crew in turbulence' excuse yr wife was given is a little thin but clearly to my mind when the crew felt their first arguement was proved inadequate they invoked a 'catch all' safety type arguement/ruling - ok so lets take away all peoples pens, pencils as well etc. etc.

I recall that a company I have worked with recently banned metal knitting needles of all lengths post 9/11 fair enough - but allowed the big chunky plastic type ones - until I showed how my steel Parker pen and/or one of these chunky plastic knitting needles could be rammed through a one inch solid block of wood and certainly would penetrate flesh and anyone's skull if I so chose - illconceived and totally ineffectual - so we reviewed and revised the ruling with the authority who were very impressed with my demo although a little shocked when I/we demonstrated that almost every fitting and/or piece of equipment (particularly catering trays/boxes) in an aircraft cabin could be used as a weapon, you'd be amazed what you can do with a sharp shard of one of those catering trays, seriously! (and for those who dont think this should be discussed here as potentially terrorists might see blah blah - well I think terrorists have proved they do have brains and sussed this a long time ago...like the rest of us in the industry)

Would remind you of my recent posting re - my colleagues bad experience on AA where the obese F/A sat and crochet'd for most of the flight and the safety issue of that was questioned - clearly AA and TSA dont consider Crochet needles a risk/threat at least not if staff have them anyway

21st Aug 2004, 19:45
A few weeks ago, whilst going through the last baggage security check before boarding, I had a screwdriver in my carry on baggage, which was removed by the security staff.
This wasn't a large dangerous tool, as its total length was 2 inches, of which 1 inch was a plastic handle. It was designed for tightening screws on spectacles and sun glasses. The "blade" of the screwdriver was 1 inch long, and about 1/16 inch wide. There was no possibility of this being used as a weapon?.

In the same pocket of my bag, I also had a stainless steel ballpoint pen, and a matching propelling pencil, both of which were far more dangerous, and both of which were totally ignored.

On a slightly different point. Do all airlines now sell onboard duty free spirits in plastic bottles, or is it only Virgin?.


21st Aug 2004, 20:13
Wow...Damned if you have an open opinion on this thing arent you!!! Skydriller get a damn grip...i dont think im the one being petty...my point was even im surprised at how certain minut things can be considered dangerous...Now you probably dont fly a fraction as much as i have to so bere in mind I go through security up to 10 times a week...its just as stressful for us and as crew...were checked even more than a passenger... I suggest you get a few pills to help you relax cos flying is only going to get more stressful for ALL OF US!!!!!

I dont know why i bother offering a friendly opinion!

IB4138...I completely agree what you mean by the smug attitude...there is NEVER any excuse for one human being to be rude to another! Theres always a friendly way to deal with people and im a firm believer of that!

OH...And im aware of the contradiction of me saying that I dont like to be rude to people and then blasting Skydriller....But this is pprune and its become very clear to me that some people on this thing are very angry people and thus....they need a bit of a whipping from time to time!!! hehehehe!!! NOW MY RANT IS OVER!:}

21st Aug 2004, 20:43
Thanks for your input folks.

A written complaint has today been sent to the airline concerned regarding this and another incident on a flight, four days previous. They appear to have an attitude problem with crews based at one particular base.

I have requested a reply to all points within 14 days or I will, as BR suggests, Name and Shame the carrier concerned.


Totally in reverse...I was once the britineire...happy days in Dublin!:)

22nd Aug 2004, 19:28
At the end of the day
the cross stich needle poses no threat/ problem because

1 We still have fused silica product bottles on board
2 The plastic implements are more efficient to dissect and
consume your repaste than the metal ones
3 The opening on facial tissue boxes (on some types) are
good at requiring the use of a "Bandaid"
4 Business/First passengers still enjoy imbibing from see through
non artificial product vessels ( ie visit your optician for an optical

Need I go On?

Apologies for the crypticness of this but you never know hoo is opticating or auralating do youoo???;)

22nd Aug 2004, 22:56
I also find it baffling that the talking freight is issued with metal forks and plastic knives - I would have thought, given the genral design of in-flight cutlery, there was less risk with a plastic fork and a metal knife.

Anyone seen that great movie "Grosse Pointe Blank" - I would suggest there is a significant threat from Biro carrying passengers....

25th Aug 2004, 12:23
I've just found a source of plastic tapestry needles. I haven't ordered them yet so don't know exactly how good they'll be for the type of canvas work I do. Does anyone see a problem with me using them on board an aircraft, if they're suitable?

27th Aug 2004, 06:55
IB, i think you are right to write to the airline. Everybody seems to realise that the current rules are not very well designed or implemented but until people start complaining the airlines have little incentive to try and improve the situation.