Friday, August 11, 2006

Airline Carry on Restrictions

Today in the aftermath of the attack that didn't happen there are still restrictions on carry on luggage if you are flying to the US or flying from or through the UK. You are limited to essentials like your passport, wallet and tickets in a clear plastic bag. Michael O'Leary boss of RyanAir was on the radio saying that we cannot ban carry on luggage just because of a few nutters. While his company would like to get rid of checked in luggage entirely and he is biased he has a point about not giving in to terrorists. If you alter your life in radical ways do they not win at least a partial victory? Importantly he and the Irish media seem to think there is a real possibility that carry on luggage may well be banned on many flights from now on, even after the immediate “threat” recedes. That would be totally insane.

Can you imagine spending up to 12 hours on a plane with nothing but your passport, wallet and flight tickets. Thats cruel and unusual punishment. Next imagine what it would be like to fly to Australia without an overnight stop (as I am going to so later this year). For close to 36 hours if you count flight time and transfers in airport terminals people might not be allowed to carry anything onto planes except the above items. If you check your luggage all the way through what will you do during those hours in airports? Will you have to buy a newspaper, book or magazine in each airport when you arrive, and dump them when you go to board the plane? Will you also have to buy a new toothbrush and other items to freshen up and then dump those before boarding? Since you would have no mobile phone you would also need to use a credit card or get a small amount of local currency and coins to use in pay phones before flying on to your real destination.

Personally, the only thing that may save me from 36 hours of torture is that I am not flying through Heathrow, the UK, or the US as I did during my last trip down under. So far these rules seem to apply only to flights leaving England or heading to the US, as far as I know. If they expand them beyond that then God help anyone who has to fly.

Update: I just heard on the BBC news that passengers will be able to bring on any items they purchase in duty free. Naturally, there's money at stake there.

Update 2: The travel restrictions are now being relaxed but you can assume that there will still be disruptions for a couple of days and some airlines may take longer than others to reinstate hand luggage. The announcement said passengers would be allowed one small item of hand luggage, half the size of previous allowances. The example shown on tv was a laptop bag. Why they think a bag half the size of the old luggage will be safer than the older full size one is safer I dont know, all I know is I now have a carry on bag that is too big for "the long term" as will many other people. Electronics are allowed now as well.

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