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Security (lack of)

Old 17th Oct 2002, 09:16
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Security (lack of)

I flew out to Alicante last Saturday 12/10/02 from a MAJOR international airport in the north of England.
Nothing remakable about this but when I and my party had cleard ALL security checks and where on our way to the gate, a friend who hasn't flown before produces his pen knife to clean his pipe
After my instant shock and trying not to be alarm any other passengers I quickly told him to put it in the bin, he then produced a 6 inch nail also for pipe cleaning and said he perhaps should dispose of this also
Not wanting to lose his beloved pen knife and without my knowledge he took it with him to Alicante, it came back in my hold luggage.
To compound this when sat at the gate two people got on the wrong plane.
It does raise the question of how good the security checks are, I have pictures of the knife and nail but can't figure out how to post them here
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Old 17th Oct 2002, 09:37
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Assuming your friend is not a terrorist and had no intention to use the items (including the pipe!) maliciously, then there was no threat here, so no need for great alarm.

Security never gets anything right! If they take nail clippers away they're being unreasonable; if they miss metal items, they're inept. A basic fact of life; the person who gets everything perfect, everytime for everyone has not yet been born.

I too have seen pax getting on the wrong a/c - every single time entirely their own fault (proving previous point!) but again not IN ITSELF a reason to raise the alarm (they have after all gone through security to be in a position to board wrong plane).

I accept as the events unfolded you may have been alarmed, however I feel that there is nothing here that could be improved by further legislation or procedures - at worst, training issues need a wee tweak.


Last edited by Cello; 17th Oct 2002 at 15:39.
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Old 18th Oct 2002, 00:17
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Actually Cello, not quite true.

A pax who checks his hold bags on one flight then deliberately gets on another causes my "suspicion neurons" to fire like crazy!

Something about things that go bump in the night - under the cabin floor.
Old 18th Oct 2002, 07:30
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I'm sure we've all seen pax get on the wrong flight, but how many times has that been discovered BEFORE pushback? I'd suggest always. The days of 'Airport' (the film) style grannies flying across the atlantic without a ticket are over, if that was ever possible anyway.

More worrying perhaps is this. On two occasions when an extra pax has been discovered on my flight, everybody has been kicked off the aircraft for a security check - to make sure the errant pax hasn't left anything onboard. On two other occasions it hasn't happened. I must admit that this made me feel a bit uneasy. All were on European majors (although I can't remember which).

In the States they regularly (and still, I believe) ask for volunteers to 'de-plane' over booked flights AFTER boarding if a 'Gold-card VIP type' turns up late. The security checks consist of "Have you taken all your bags, sir?".

I too have stories of sharp stuff getting through security, usually in my wife's handbag The simple fact is, you are neither significantly safer, nor significantly more at risk than you were 14 months ago - you just have to live with it. Or don't travel.
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Old 18th Oct 2002, 15:41
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I quite agree knobbygb. Yesterday, I felt very sorry for one of our "Gold" members who had his laser pointer confiscated. Unfortunately for him, the ruling about not allowing laser pointers into the cabin has been around ever since the devices were invented!

Where do you draw the line on security? A bottle of whisky (or any spirit) ignited with a match or cigarette lighter could become a Molotov Cocktail - the broken bottle itself is a lethal weapon! The airlines won't stop selling duty frees though!!!

At the end of the day, out of the millions of pax moved around daily, only a very very few are likely to create a problem. Sense and sensibility must prevail!
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Old 19th Oct 2002, 21:03
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I too have had small knives go through x-ray unnoticed and been surprised to see them at the other end. This week however, I was impressed by the X-ray at Luton for a domestic flight to the Isle of Man.

My bag was selected for search and I supposed it was due to the enormous quantity of computer gear in it. With items lying on top of each other they can be difficult to identify.

After he had rootled through the whole bag, whilst asking the usual questions about my having packed it myself, he said that they could see nail clippers. I said that I would be surprised.

What he found in some remote nook of the (very large) bag was a pair of electrician's side-cutters.

These looked like those large nail clippers with handles about 3" long. The actual blade is about a half inch long. He held them up triumphantly and was not pleased when I said, "Wow, thanks very much - I've been looking for those for ages!" (True)

As they are a very good pair, I did not want to lose them. They let me go back land-side to post them back to myself in a padded envelope!

The truly amusing part of this is that - I had already checked my bag and placed my Leatherman in the hold bag. ALSO, I had removed a box cutter. I suspect that, had the x-ray found that, they might have been rather more concerned.

The other serious weapon on board, after the litre bottle of alcohol, is a lap top computer, weighing 2.5Kg and made of metal and hard plastic. If that were to be aimed at a person's head, it would have a serious effect.

I agree - we are no safer, or more at risk, than we were 14 months ago. The risks may now be from a different angle but I have lived and worked in London for 25 years, we have lived with post boxes sealed, so as to prevent bombs being placed in them. At one time, every litter bin was a potential bomb site.

I have been half a mile away from an IRA bomb, I have worked in a building that was bombed only a few weeks later. I have heard bombs at a distance. I have been in a building that has received bomb threats. In the course of my work I have had to TAKE bomb threat calls. Friends of mine have been mugged in London more than once. Yet, I have not been so much as mugged or had my pocket picked and no bomb has ever hurt me.

Across 25 years? I guess that it is called statistics.
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Old 20th Oct 2002, 08:50
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Just to elaborate, since we're on 'scary stories', the incident that comes to mind for me is this:

Wife stopped at Athens, nail clippers found in her bag. She was asked 'Are you travelling home to England'? Answer, "yes". At this point security handed her back the clippers, and told her to make sure not to bring them next time . This worried me a bit (but not much, to be honest). It was an hour later on the flight home that I realised that the clippers had been in her bag for the whole trip and had been through security at MAN, FRA (twice), ATH, Naxos, and had only been spotted by one check in six At MUC on the way home, knowing that I would not be able to hide my guilt, I declared tham and they were confiscated (along with an unopened bottle of mineral water and packet of biscuits ), so it was goodbye clippers, after nearly 4000 miles together!
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Old 21st Oct 2002, 16:37
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That is a wonderfully ridiculous story!! Knowing MUC very well, you did the right thing to own up to the clippers, the officials there would not have seen the humour of their journey.
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