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14 August, 2006  

Good morning

Special  Air  Security  Update

Good news for air travelers, especially people flying out of Britain.

As hoped for, a modicum of sense is now replacing what increasingly seems to have been ill-founded and unnecessary panic last Thursday.

The British authorities have now lowered their security alert level and are allowing regular carry-on items once more, with the notable exception of liquids, with the can and can't have list being very similar to that evolving in the US (ie prescription medicines, baby food and baby milk are okay, but no other liquids or pastes or gels are allowable).

Increased levels of scrutiny of carry-on items can be expected, along with more pat-downs and secondary gate-side searches for passengers on flights to the US, and security lines will continue to be longer than normal due to more time being spent scrutinizing each passenger and their carry-on items, plus inevitable time wasted when people turn up with now forbidden items.

Note also the British authorities are limiting passengers to only one carry-on per person, with a maximum size not to exceed 17.7" x 13.7" x 6.2".  If you have other items, they must be placed into this one item while going through security.  This one item per person and size restriction will probably be fairly strictly enforced; note also that most wheeled carry-on bags are larger than this.

These relaxations are very welcome.  Heathrow in particular continued to be a terrible mess on Friday and over the weekend, with the airport operator imposing a mandatory 30% reduction in flights due to simply not being able to cope with the passenger processing requirements in the terminals.

Here in the US, there have been some clarifications on what the TSA will and won't allow passengers to bring onboard.  Ladies may be pleased to learn that solid lipsticks are now deemed safe.  But aerosol sprays are now dangerous.  And the TSA has dropped their sham pretence that removing your shoes is optional.  Everyone must remove their shoes once more.

Here's a helpful page on the TSA site that clarifies what you can and can't take with you.  It is expected that these new TSA requirements will now apply at all US airports, rather than just at international airports.

I'll send out another special newsletter should it be necessary, but hopefully things are settling down now.  In which case, look for the regular newsletter on Friday, including a review of the latest Bose QC3 noise cancelling headphones - for a few days I was worried one would no longer be able to take such wonderful things onto planes any more!

Until Friday, please enjoy safe travels

              David M Rowell aka The Travel Insider

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