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Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 17:37 GMT
US airports seize passenger 'arms'
Passengers at Los Angeles International airport
It is hoped that by Christmas passengers will be more cautious
Despite massive publicity in the US regarding the importance of airline security, the number of items confiscated recently indicates passengers have yet to take the message to heart.

Knives, scissors and box cutters confiscated during earlier security checks
So far none of the items seem to have been for sinister purposes
Over the US Thanksgiving holiday weekend, airport security officials in 38 of the nation's busiest airports seized a total of almost 16,000 knives, six guns, 98 box cutters, and more than 1000 clubs or bats.

One passenger even attempted to carry a brick onto a plane at Ronald Reagan National airport in Washington DC; another had a welding gun confiscated.

All the confiscated items will be handed to police, but so far it appears that no-one had intended to use their weapon for sinister purposes, all passengers apparently having reasonable excuses for their potentially lethal luggage.

However it is a source of concern to authorities that airline security - widely criticised in the wake of the 11 September attacks - is still apparently not taken seriously by US passengers.

Passenger inexperience

Transport Security Administration (TSA) spokesman Robert Johnson attributed most of the findings to inexperienced travellers who simply did not realise that they could not take such items on board aeroplanes.

However, some passengers could be prosecuted, depending on the item confiscated and the circumstances in which it was found, he added.

The TSA is now hoping that passengers will catch on to the seriousness of such an issue, given that new security procedures, including more stringent gate checks and explosives screenings for some bags, will soon be implemented.

"We would expect that, with the Christmas holiday, a lot of these people will be back and we hope they'll learn their lesson," Mr Johnson said.

The US Government tightened restrictions on what items can be carried on board planes following the 11 September attacks, in which hijackers are believed to have smuggled box cutters on board four planes to use as weapons.

See also:

13 Sep 01 | Americas
23 Oct 01 | Americas
02 Jul 02 | Americas
04 Jul 02 | Americas
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