How to smoothly pass through passenger checks at the airport


By AGENCY

Body scanners in airports are safe to use, even for people with a pacemaker, or if you are pregnant. — dpa

It takes some people ages to get through security at the airport, while others would have already taken their laptop out of its case, stowed their liquids in a plastic bag and taken off their jacket by the time they reach the front of the queue.

According to Olaf Schmidt from the Frasec security firm in Frankfurt, Germany, preparation makes all the difference when it comes to passenger checks at the airport.

Looking ahead to a busy summer this year, a spokesperson for the German police at Hamburg airport recommends that travellers arrive at the airport at least two hours ahead of their flight, take as little hand luggage as possible and immediately proceed to security after checking in.

Butter is a liquid

While most passengers used to bring only one piece of hand luggage, now it’s usually two or three per person (depending on which airline you’re flying with), says security coordinator Schmidt.

This is partially due to the fact that many airlines have imposed or increased fees for check-in bags, he adds.

Many travellers also carry things with them that they’re not allowed to bring on the plane, mainly too large amounts of liquids, according to Schmidt.

Currently, only a maximum of 100ml per container – which must fit in a clear plastic bag and be presented separately to security – is allowed.

But not only water and other beverages are affected by the restrictions: Toothpaste, creams, sunscreen and even foods like honey, butter, cream cheese or paté are considered a liquid too.

“Creamy and spreadable items like coconut or shea butter must follow the liquids rule in carry-on bags,” the United States Transportation Security Administration says.

Meanwhile, prohibited items don’t only include weapons, but also weapon-like objects, says German police. Officers in Hamburg have already confiscated water pistols, a perfume bottle shaped like a hand grenade and a small gardening tool.

No fertiliser

Many passengers need three plastic bins to accommodate all their belongings when going through security, says Schmidt. With families, that can amount to more than a dozen bins.

As soon as the luggage scanner detects something unusual, the flight security assistants have to carry out a follow-up check, together with the passenger, Schmidt explains. Powerbanks or electric toothbrushes, for example, often cause a false alarm.

If the device indicates a dense organic mass during screening, a routine explosives test is carried out, with security staff swiping the baggage with a so-called sniffer. The sample is then analysed by a scanner that detects the smallest suspicious particles.

The device can already detect minor traces, from when you’ve worked with fertiliser in the garden before packing your suitcase, for example.

Glycerine-based medication taken by heart patients can also cause a false alarm.

Sometimes, it’s already enough if someone packed their suitcase after putting lotion on their hands, says police spokesperson Stephanie Flick.

Don’t fear body scanners

Some passengers might be worried about the risk of radiation from body scanners that are increasingly common in airports around the world. However Hamburg police spokesperson Marcus Henschel says there is no cause for concern.

The device works with millimetre waves that have a lower radiation dose than a smartphone or a motion detector. It is also safe to use for people with pacemakers or if you are pregnant.

You don’t need to take off your watch, jewellery, belt or glasses before entering the scanner, according to Henschel.

However, passengers can also request to be checked by a staff member if they prefer. – dpa

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