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Duty free bottles and other weapons!

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Duty free bottles and other weapons!

Old 16th Jan 2004, 17:32
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Devil Duty free bottles and other weapons!

What about all potential weapons sold and freely available after security checks at airside (Duty-free) e.g. massive 2lt bottles of duty free flammable vodkas, whiskey, etc or freely available BAA extinguishers, or any other sharp item that could be purchased in any duty free shop that does not have an apparent "hijacking" use but that could easily be transformed in an effective weapon once in the wrong hands (cutlery, corkscrews, pens, etc) ?
It doesn't make sense at all to me that we are checking the shoes of pax at security point when at the same time we offer small glass-made bottles of wine on board the aircraft that could be easily transformed in throat cutters.
This all issue of security is very complex and we are still extremely vulnerable: all airlines should ban any glass bottles on board, this is where the terrorist would pick right now the weapon they need to cut a throat, and they will do this passing successfully all security checks.
Then what about the extinguishers on board, this could be another potential weapon in the wrong hands...unfortunately I do not see other solution than either employing SAS cabin crew (or similar) or having sky marshals on board, otherwise a plane can still be easily hijacked and driven into something major.Very scary.
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Old 16th Jan 2004, 17:58
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I always felt that ensuring all bottles (alcohol) are PET might be useful. I don't suppose "Chanel" would agree to this!
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Old 16th Jan 2004, 18:11
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Devil Ban Socks

Buy glass paperweight in duty free, or one of those snowflake globes enclosing a wintry scene or other high density item.

Put in sock and smash away.

Guests of HM Prisons make do with bars of soap.
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Old 16th Jan 2004, 18:56
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What constitutes a weapon ?

This is one of those things that will never go away.

I am sure a trawl through the airside "duty free" shops will reveal an enormous amount of stuff that can effectively be used as a weapon. It is never going to be easy to make access to fire extinguishers difficult. And I haven't found an airside hardware shop yet, but there are plenty of things, sharp or heavy and just as dangerous freely available.

Some years ago it was said that the equivalent of a cargo 747 of booze was constantly in the air travelling across the Atlantic as the sum total of pax on a daily basis lugged their bottle or two of spirits on 100 flights east and another 100 west.

Apart from the waste of fuel, the ridiculous duty-free trade just allows flammable spirits which are dangerous in the cabin and glass bottles, which are the weapon of choice of many pub-brawlers aboard all aircraft.

There is no room for complacency and all reasonable efforts to improve safety and security must be applauded but sooner or later - though hopefully never - human failings, combined with determination by the ill intending will allow the inevitable to happen again. I hope it won't but I don't know how to guarantee that
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Old 16th Jan 2004, 20:06
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Not exactly within the topic, but about the shops after security.
Many airlines paying a lot of attention to the number, size and weight of cabin luggage at the check-in point.
However I rarely see any airline paying any attention to the same things at boarding point, while there is a massive number of passengers who doubling or even tripling amount of their cabin luggage after some tax free shopping.
Recently I saw the man who purchased as much as 7 liters of spirits (cognac and wisky) at tax free plus some other goods, which is a recon around 15 kilos weight considering heavy glass bottles. No one said any word to him at the boarding...
And then well known practice when passenger's friends holding his excessive cabin luggage while passenger is checking in in order to avoid too many questions at check-in.

What is the point to have all of these restrictions at check-in if they are easiliy avoidable?
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Old 16th Jan 2004, 20:31
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Duty free on arrival has been available in many countries for years. This should be made MANDATORY everywhere. The weight saved would also be a massive trade off.

The pieces of coloured tape we stick to aircraft doors every night (Security seals) are not going to stop a Vodka bottle wielding maniac with a cigarette lighter. I have recently seen both Vodka and cigarrette lighters for sale on board a UK charter airline.

The DOT and companies focus is I am afraid blinkered and doesn't look at obvious ways to increase security, or consult with airline staff to improve it.
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Old 16th Jan 2004, 23:42
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There is no way for these people to get in the cockpit. the crew would land immediately if possible. I guess the ones that slit someones throat would be in deep **** when the other 2-300 pax joined the fight, thirsty for revenge and bearing in mind 911. Someone being slashed will occur on the street too. With a little training someone could break a neck in no time. But where will that lead them.? Should only amputated people be allowed on airplanes ?
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Old 17th Jan 2004, 02:31
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I generally agree with thoughts of Cloudscape; as an American expat, I no longer travel to the States at all due to increased hassle and mindless officiousness at US airports.

AS for 'Duty Free', if a bottle of Chevas is bought on LHR airport and carried to JFK, and another, at the same time, is bought on JFK airport and carried to LHR, weight, fire hazard & potential weaponry result. The obvious solution is to purchase items upon departure, & have them delivered at destination from stock at the destination airport, so items are not carried onboard. Actually, the whole 'Duty Free' idea is crazy, but at least this way savings can be made.
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Old 17th Jan 2004, 09:37
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Potential Weapons

In this day and age what can be classified as a potential weapon
which could be used by a group or an individual to overpower a flight crew and enable them to hijack an aircraft.

Where do we draw the line.If everything brought on board an aircraft including duty free could be a potential weapon,then everything should be placed in the hold.

Are we getting to the stage that nothing other than the passengers should be allowed on board an aircraft.I bring this to the attention of PPRUNE because of an incident that I was involved in.

I flew LBA-AMS October 2003.The wife had in her hand luggage
a leather case containing nail files,small scissors,nail clippers etc.These were removed from the case after passing through the xray machine, they even removed the non metalic nail files.
We were'nt allowed into the departure lounge until I was allowed back into check in to post them back to myself.

Are we in the silly season or is this the price we have to pay to enable us to fly from A to B in safety.At least the LBA is treating security seriously. I may have been inconvenienced but I did arrive in Amsterdam safely.

Last edited by ILS32; 17th Jan 2004 at 10:06.
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Old 17th Jan 2004, 18:50
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Duty free bottles and hijacking

I understand your point guys but then why we are continuing to totally disrupt the whole " airport departure experience" of millions of passengers worldwide, even asking passengers to take off their shoes, when at the same time anybody could go to the aircraft toilette with a "legal" bottle of 90% alcohol vodka and blow up the plane using a "legal" cigarette lighter.
I think the present approach is crazy and non-sense.

We either accept the fact that we cannot ruin our lives because of terrorism and we have to leave with it, or we just continue to pretend that we are making planes as safe as possible and we try to minimise this threat: the point is that we cannot adopt extremely strict policies at security points and then we leave all unchanged around the duty free area! This is simply wrong.
The issue of the post 9.11 passengers reaction to a hijacking is right as the attitude of people in a potential hijacking situation has completely changed, I agree, but this does not justify the fact that we should reduce our awareness and/or security checks because of this.
I repeat the duty free area issue needs to be reviewed before it is too late.
We cannot forget that a plane can be driven into anything including something that could blow up a nation (e.g. nuclear sites).
Then we cannot just rely on the reaction of passengers: if the terrorists are suicidal and well trained (and they would certainly be), the reaction of passengers would simply not be an efficient and sufficient response to this very serious risk.
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Old 17th Jan 2004, 20:56
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I've got a better idea.

Why don't we just anaesthatise all pax, clamp them in their seats and chop their arms and legs off. Wouldn't want anyone to discover that they can use their hands and feet as deadly weapons now would we?

Alternatively, just keep all the paranoid idiots away from aviation and hey presto - problem solved!
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Old 17th Jan 2004, 20:59
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Three situations, all noticed by me personally in the last three weeks or so whilst travelling:

1. Major European airport. Pass through security and then find sharp, yes sharp, metal knives available in the frequent flyer lounge. No more security checks between lounge and aircraft.

2. Flying from Eastern Europe to UK via another major European airport. Metal knives and forks used for inflight meal from Eastern Europe to major European airport. No security checks between getting off one aircraft and getting on the other, so quite easy to carry metal knives etc onto inbound flight to UK (OK, so these weren't particular sharp, but what's the point in insisting on only using plastic on flights into/out of the UK?).

3. Third major European airport. Pen knives, including some fairly large ones with good long blades, on sale in shopping area after security check. No security checks in between shopping area and airplane.

None of those situations left me feeling uncomfortable once I'd got onto my flights - I just don't think that there's that many mad-heads in the world and so I'll take my chance along with all the rest. Sure we need security, but lets not pretend its foolproof and nor will it ever be unless all air travel is shut down. The changes that have been made are designed to give laymen the impression that something is being done and may well catch out the incompetent, but if regular flyers believe that the problems are solved they are deluding themselves.

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Old 17th Jan 2004, 21:37
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Yes. And you would have arrived safely if you still had those items in your possesion. What does that say about the security paranoia?

If anyone thinks that removing pocket knives, flutes, knitting needles, checking behind belt buckles etc etc etc ad nauseum and the paranoia at the 'security' checkpoints is contributing to security, then it is them that is deluding themselves.

Even the so called inspection of other airside access people & vehicles is a crock. A cursory walk around of the truck while the driver walks through the metal detector. Big deal! Any man portable weapon you care to name could be secreted on/in the vehicle.

I have an alternative. Ensure that ALL passengers & crew have some sort of weapon or item that could be used as one. Virtually guaranteed to outnumber any potential hijacker(s).

Unless you believe that all passengers are terrorists?

Last edited by Tinstaafl; 18th Jan 2004 at 21:21.
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Old 18th Jan 2004, 19:01
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Is airport security going mad!

I have recorded the following comments from the web on the argument and I would like to know your opinion:

"It seems daft to go through security checks to get into departure, and then to be allowed to prowl round shops that sell sharp objects and the like. In Dubai and Atlanta I could have purchased real weapons in the departure lounge!"

"No tweezers, but a black-belt in Karate is OK. No nail scissors, but steel toe-capped boots are fine. No nail files, but bottles of duty-free are safe. Come on! A highly trained and determined terrorist will not be stopped by removing 3-inch eyebrow tweezers from my girlfriend's make-up bag. They could kill you with a sharp pencil or their index finger. (the terrorist that is; not my girlfriend.) "

"The current security is just window dressing
Let's face it that the current security is just window dressing. Plastic cutlery for meals whilst glass utensils are on the same tray! Ceramic knives easily pass through most detectors"

"I am bemused by the current security policy which bans nail scissors from hand luggage but allows passengers to carry large glass bottles of duty-free alcohol. Surely the broken bottle is potentially more lethal than the nail scissors. I guess airports can't afford to stop selling duty-free"

"Whilst on a recent flight, I was eating with the now compulsory, and virtually useless, plastic knife and fork. I was able to pour myself a (plastic) glass of wine from a glass bottle. Anyone who has seen the aftermath of a boozy Saturday night in any town in England would agree that a small blunt knife and fork is less dangerous than a broken bottle in the wrong hands."

"My mother, on a recent flight from Sydney, Australia to the UK had a pair of tweezers confiscated at the airport for security reasons. During the flight, she was given a metal knife and fork with her meal. "

It is clear that there is something going terribly wrong here, don't you all agree?
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Old 18th Jan 2004, 19:15
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Duty free weapons

Whilst speaking of duty free weapons. What I don't understand is why we persist in loading and extra 300-400 litres/kgs of duty free alcohol on board aircraft before the flight when it could be purchased at the destination. Save weight, fuel, cost or a couple of extra paying passengers.

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Old 18th Jan 2004, 19:36
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This whole area is riddled with inconsistencies, and it seems to me to be almost pointless to continue attempting to enforce a lot of these rules.

Not long after 9/11 I can recall being in the departure lounge at Luton, having carried my rucksack through the new security checks. I was pondering on the wisdom of checking for nail scissors and the like, but then allowing me to wander into the bar and order a (glass) pint of Guinness, which could easily have been concealed in my rucksack - minus the Guinness obviously.

As has already been pointed out, there are numerous exponents of the art of beer glass/bottle combat throughout the UK - and I'm sure other countries - on a Friday night.

While it's clearly essential to stop terrorists getting firearms or explosives on board aircraft, the usefulness of stopping them getting small sharp objects on board is surely much less clear now? The 9/11 terrorists succeeded because the natural instinct and training of crew and passengers was to remain passive, and trust in the authorities to resolve any issue. This based on the premise that hijackings were made for the purpose of gaining polical or financial benefit through negotiation, probably on the ground, and probably in a situation where if negotiation failed the terrorists would be no match for the SAS, Delta Force, Spetsnaz or whoever.....

Now that people understand the purpose may be to turn the aircraft into a giant kamikaze mission, a group of say half a dozen men will find it much more difficult to gain control of an aircraft.

I'm sure the thought must have crossed every regular travellers mind as to how they would react in the very unlikely situation of finding yourself in the midst of a 9/11 style hijacking. I'd certainly expect many of the younger, fitter readers to come to the same conclusion as me that step 1 would be to launch yourself at the nearest hijacker with the hardest or sharpest weapon you could lay your hands on, and step 2 would be to put yourself between the cockpit and would be hijackers to make sure the flight crew remained unharmed and in control.

Unless the aircraft was extremely lightly loaded, the odds would have to be at least 8-1 in favour of the 'normal' passengers in such circumstances. Surely a better proposition than sitting in your seat and waiting for the worst to happen.
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Old 18th Jan 2004, 20:01
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In view of recent events, I think the Matt cartoon in this morning's Sunday Telegraph sums it all up perfectly:

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Old 19th Jan 2004, 21:28
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Passenger reaction

I understand that the passengers would react in a completely different why after 9.11 if an hijacking would take place on a flight, but would this be a guaranteed success against the terrorists?
How many passengers would be really willing to attack an hijacker if he/she has just cut the throat of another passenger or a member of the cabin crew. Total chaos and general panic would possibly prevail.

Personally I am not sure about the success of such an unpredictable reaction especially if the team of hijacker would be well trained and possibly consisting of around a dozen people.

I still think the airlines and airport authority should act quickly and review the practice of carrying duty free item on board as these are serious potential weapons.
This could be done in several ways and your suggestions of collecting purchased items on arrival could be one of the solutions.
I do not think it is responsible to ignore the present situation, this is why I think that a serious debate should take place on this specific aspect of airport security.
I am not even sure that the cockpit door would be a sufficient defence in a well planned attack and this reiterates the need of a change in the practice of carrying duty free items on board the planes.

Only my opinion.
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Old 19th Jan 2004, 22:05
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Quite simple this one.

The differnce between an object being a weapon or not a weapon is intent.

e.g. I shot .45 calibre pistol in competition for years, but I never had the intent to use for anything else other than punching holes in a paper target, so in my hands it was not a weapon. Give it to a violent criminal and it may be a different story.

Given that most foot soldiers in the middle ages were actually armed with the agricultural implements that they used in pursuit of their day jobs as their liege's serfs, I would assert that people have been using everday objects as weapons for far longer than aeroplanes have been flying.

Once again, we come back to the need for better profiling (on the ground) of those who view objects as weapons.

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