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Breakfast Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 05:09 GMT 06:09 UK
What's lurking in your luggage?
Breakfast's business reporter Max Foster
Max Foster reports on a new cause of airport delays
Holiday-makers are facing extra delays at Britain's major airports, because they're persistently ignoring new security rules.

In the wake of last year's September 11 attacks, airlines are stricly enforcing rules banning all sharp objects, even nail-scissors, from hand-luggage.

  • click here for a list of banned objects

    Breakfast has learned that 15,000 banned items are being confiscated every day from passengers, at Heathrow, Stansted at Gatwick airports.

    Our reporter Max Foster spent an afternoon in Gatwick airport, to get an idea of the scale of the problem:

    Early afternoon, and queues into the hand luggage security check area were stretching right back into the main terminal building.

    This is usually one of the quietest times of day.

    The whole system has slowed down because passengers are still carrying sharp objects in their handluggage, despite a ban imposed after September 11th.
    sharp objects confiscated from airline passengers
    2,000 pairs of scissors are confiscated each day

    Passengers are warned at check-in to put the objects in the luggage which goes inthe aircraft hold. Posters repeat the message around the terminal.

    But nail scissors, kitchen knives, pen knives, hyperdermic needles, cork screws, sharp belt buckles and handcuffs are still being carried through.

    Each time one is detected, the passenger is taken to one side to have their bags searched.

    One in seventeen passengers has a potentially dangerous object confiscated.

    "It's a nightmare", says Terminal Security Manager, Keith Booker. "We've had forty thousand passengers each day this last weekend.

    "If you stop one in seventeen of those, it takes a few minutes to actually go through the process, taking things out of peoples' bags, doing the paperwork if necessary.

    It all takes time so it does slow things down."

    Many passengers claimed to know the rules, but had somehow ignored them.

    Research carried out by the British Airports Authority showed that 81% claim to know the new hand luggage security restrictions.

    One passenger caught with nail scissors told Breakfast:

    "Yes I probably was aware but I had forgotten actually. I didn't remember seeing any signs."

    Another who had a pen-knife said:

    "There are plenty of signs and I was asked on check-in but I take that knife wherever I go and I must admit I thought it was in my suitcase as opposed to my handluggage".

    In the middle of the holiday season, the risk of queues developing at both check-in and security is at its highest.

    Hundreds of extra security staff have been taken on by the main airport operator, BAA. But some frustrated passengers are taking their anger out on guards.

    There's been a surge in verbal and physical abuse. A security officer told Breakfast that people often get angry when their personal items are confiscated.

    A female security official has been punched in the face. When a woman had her set of nail scissors taken away which she claimed were a family heirloom, her daughter,who said she was a barrister, threatened legal action.

    Another woman complained that she hadn't been able to cut her toenails for a fornight on holiday because her clippers where confiscated.

    Breakfast this morning reported live from Gatwick airport.

    Gatwick's Managing Director Roger Cato told us:
    Gatwick's MD Roger Cato
    Cato: we don't want to fine passengers

    "A lot of things in life aren't certain but one thing is. By the end of today, we shall be the proud owners of another 2,000 pairs of nail scissors.

    "We are trying to get the message across with posters and floorwalkers - but we don't want to fine passengers, that wouldn't be good customer care."

    BANNED FROM HAND LUGAGE: Scissors, tweezers, knives, razor blades, toy or replica guns, catapults, household cutlery, tools, hypodermic needles (unless needed for medical reasons), knitting needles, darts, sports bats, billiard, snooker or pool cues and other sharp objects.

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