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A chance to reassess airport security controls

By Greg Cornwell - 9 February 2016 4

Airport screening

It’s great news that Singapore Airlines will be flying direct to Canberra opening up Asia, Europe and New Zealand in September. No more obligatory journeys to Sydney, either bussing down or transferring, again by bus, from domestic to international terminals or vice versa – an antiquated embarrassing procedure for Australia’s major airport. Or often getting up at ungodly hours to catch the first flight and beat the local fog or add to your travel costs by overnighting – either way – at curfew-limiting Kingsford Smith. Hopefully no tarmac crossing either with no air bridge.

This travel breakthrough offers the chance to examine some of the existing restrictive security controls. Perhaps by reviewing them for this new service other airports throughout Australia can benefit.
I would stress in advance this is no criticism of our Australian Border Force, whose officers do a patient job under difficult circumstances and are required to execute controls which are often silly and lack logic.

With the sensible reinstatement of metal knives and forks for aircraft meals, Mum’s small nail scissors or someone’s penknife is not a greater threat, while the 100g restriction on tubes and bottles owes more to size than contents. A dangerous substance in a toothpaste tube of 100g – the limit – is as lethal as in a similar tube of 110g, which is confiscated.

And I’m puzzled by thorough security checks when on the aircraft I am offered wine from a potential weapon: a glass bottle. Those travelling on cheaper flights might question this point but why it there the assumption troublemakers or terrorists only travel economy?

Fortunately our security checks in Australia are sensibly basic, no belts or shoes to be removed, wallets and passports retained, although removing my coat to pass through the scanner seems unnecessary because any problem will show up when wearing it I pass through the security arch.

However being Canberra I am uneasy. We have a habit in the National Capital of overkill (sorry for the pun) simply because we are the National Capital. Therefore the thought of important people arriving and departing the ACT by commercial airliner might panic our guardians into introducing tougher security than in other Australian airports, overlooking that these VIP’s travel through these alternatives now without greater risk to reach Canberra.

Suggestions and qualifications aside, the extra jobs including at Duty Free, and the convenience created for overseas travellers are a welcome addition to our city.

Photo: iStock

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4 Responses to
A chance to reassess airport security controls
JC 9:07 am 10 Feb 16

Kim F said :

4 flights a week, I can’t imagine they will open up a duty free store!

It’s actually 8 flights, 4 to Singapote and 4 to Wellington. Again to use Darwin as an vex ample, international departures are sparsely spread out and staff seem to arrive to man duty free, even for the smaller a/c that fly to Darwin. Don’t see why Cbr would be any different.

Masquara 6:51 pm 09 Feb 16

You don’t seriously think international travel safety and security regulations will be eased to accommodate Canberrans being accustomed to having a domestic-only airport, do you?

Kim F 12:28 pm 09 Feb 16

4 flights a week, I can’t imagine they will open up a duty free store!

JC 10:56 am 09 Feb 16

Re tougher security, if Darwin is anything to go by, international flights, which have different security regulations compared to domestic, passengers go through a second screening when entering the international departures area. Would imagine Canberra would be similar.

You also make some very good points about what is and isn’t allowed.

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