From peanut butter to tire irons, Calgary airport seizures slow security
Most items harmless, but delays a nuisance
By Jen Gerson, Calgary HeraldDecember 17, 2010 6:44 AM
Canadian Air Transport Security Authority operations manager Pierre Simard, left, with screening officer Ash Lim, demonstrates screening procedures.
Photograph by: Photos, Ted Jacob, Calgary Herald, Calgary Herald
The tables crammed with personal affects deemed too dangerous to fly included dozens of water bottles, toothpaste, craft scissors, lighters, a propane lantern and a Secret Treasures deluxe collectible dolphin water globe, still in its original packaging.
All of it was surrendered to Calgary International Airport officials within just one day, said Mathieu Laroque, a spokesman for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
With the exception of a tire iron and a small drill, few of the items were harmful.
However, passengers who fail to abide by the authority’s rules prohibiting liquids, gels, aerosols, sharp objects and flammable substances may slow down the security lines for everybody this holiday season.
“Every time a passenger brings one of these items in his or her bag, it adds time to the screening process. When you have 50,000 passengers per day going through checkpoints, that’s what adds lineups,” he said.
Larocque displayed dozens of items surrendered at the airport in a single day; they included items such as hand cream and a jar of peanut butter.
“Some of these items can be really puzzling,” he said. “Just bring the minimum, really. In the plane, you rarely need a big bottle of shampoo or a jar of peanut butter.”
Larocque said most of the items collected by security officers were innocent.
“The vast majority of passengers don’t bring these items with malicious intentions; it’s just forgetfulness,” he said, adding “not a whole lot” of the items could be used to cause any harm.
When security finds illegal items such as switchblades or brass knuckles, the Calgary Police Service is called in to investigate, he added.
Liquids have been banned from flights since 2006. Current rules state that bottles packed in hand luggage must be less than 100 mL, and all liquids have to fit into a one-litre plastic bag.
And yet up to 20 per cent of passengers still try to take banned substances, like water, through security.
“If you add two or three minutes per passenger who have one of these items, it creates a huge backlog that can easily be avoided,” he said.
Jody Moseley, spokeswoman for the Calgary Airport Authority, said lineups for security had been minimal, despite the increase in traffic.
“Every airline is fully staffed for the busy travel season. We’re working really well to get people through as quickly as possible,” she said.
Passengers would be wise to plan ahead and arrive early, Moseley added. She said the number of travellers is expected to increase on Sunday and remain high for the rest of the week.
“All of (the days) are busy ones. It has changed a lot over the years, almost every day is busy next week,” she said.
This will be the first holiday flying season since escalated security procedures were implemented in the U.S. The Transportation Security Administration was heavily criticized when it installed body scanners and introduced invasive pat-down procedures.
Larocque said CATSA’s own inspection protocols were unchanged. The agency has installed 34 body-scanners in 12 airports across the country, including at Calgary. Passengers travelling to the U.S. should expect to remove their shoes at the gate.
“I’m wondering what it’s going to be like because I’ve heard in the media that in the States, security is going to be tightened up so I’m wondering what’s going to happen when I go through,” said Linda Calliou, who was waiting for a flight to Abbotsford, B.C.
Although she’s surrendered several bottles of water, she supports the rules.
“I think they’re OK. I’d rather have everybody do that than get blown out of the sky,” she said. Sitting in a calm airport on Wednesday morning awaiting a flight to Frankfurt to return to his home in Latvia, Zigmunds Ancikevich said he had no trouble with either lines or searches.
“I guess it doesn’t hurt anyone so I’m OK with that. I find out what kind of stuff you can have with you. You just comply with the rules, it’s not a big deal I think, just a water bottle and a coffee,” he said.
Despite the closure of a 1,000-space Park’N Fly lot on Barlow Trail last month, Moseley said spaces were still plentiful, with economy parking costing about $40 per week at the airport.
CATSA advised passengers to keep lines moving quickly by limiting their jewelry, wearing loose clothing and easy to remove shoes and to avoid over-packing.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
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