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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

One bag only

28 December, 2007
The one bag only rule is still in force in British airports but reform is on the horizon with a number of airports set to change next week. Heathrow has been approved but London's second airport, Gatwick, has surprisingly failed to cut the muster.
I was flying again today and spent the last few minutes before check-in making sure things like toothpaste and nail scissors would go into the hold and not the confiscation box at security. The rules are abundant but at least they're clear if you can read English or decipher the graphics â€" one bag only can be taken on board, that's all. This means no handbags, no camera cases, no carrier bags, no additional laptop cases and no umbrellas. This last items is a surprise to many because an umbrella is clearly not a bag so if you travel a lot, buy a compact, telescopic umbrella because they fit in the cases more easily.

Despite the initial chaos of the additional security that existed even just six months ago, the process is much slicker now with more preparation areas and marshals at the entrance calling out the rules like market traders and dishing out little plastic bags for liquid containers. The result of this is that the chaos has moved upstream so that the confused, forgetful and blasà are all safely out of the way sorting themselves out "off line" so that those who've already taken their laptops out of their cases, emptied their pockets into their bags, undone their shoe laces and unfastened their coats can go sailing through unhindered.

There are those who still get through to the front of the queue before working out that the Swiss army knife in their pocket falls into the category of sharp objects or that a can of shaving foam comes under "liquids and gels" but there isn't a system available as yet which will deal with people who have problems coping with scoping.

So this leaves the question of whether the new rules in January will help out with this problem and the answer is that it probably won't. The one bag rule will be relaxed at some airports if the carrier also allows it which is fine but there is now more for the traveller to check before setting off for the airport such as whether the airport has the relaxed rule and whether the airline allows more than one item of cabin baggage. Relying on the ability of hundreds of thousands of people to check all these facts is bound to cause chaos and disappointment. Also, the basis of the change is improved 3-dimensional screening equipment so the focus is on improved, more effective security screening so there's no relaxation in standards.


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