he Airport security alert in London has been reduced from “Critical” to “Severe” bringing relief to the many thousands of passengers traveling from UK airports each day.
The Home Office made the move because it had decided a terrorist attack was still “highly likely” but no longer “imminent,” according to the BBC.
Hand luggage restrictions, although relaxed, will still apply for the time being.
Still, the country’s major airport operator BAA has urged passengers using Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted not to bring hand baggage as it gradually phases in the latest changes.
I traveled to Ireland from London Luton Airport last Friday 11th July when the security alert was at its height. Passengers could not take any hand luggage or liquid drinks, but were allowed travel documents, keys and wallets, which all had to be carried in clear plastic bags. I felt naked without my mobile phone which I had to put it in my checked luggage along with my digital camera and camcorder.
Security searches were more thorough, but otherwise not too different from the usual checks.
Luton was unusually quiet due to budget airline EasyJet canceling most of their flights. The shops were empty as nobody was sure whether or not they would be allowed to carry any purchased items on to the flight. Even after announcement was made assuring passengers that they could purchase things and take them on as hand luggage, people were still hesitant. The shops must have lost a fortune.
“It’s up to the Captain” Ryan Air Check in Staff, Knock
Coming back to the UK on Sunday from Knock International Airport in Ireland was a different story.
Hand luggage was restricted to “essential items only”, but when I asked if I could hand carry my mobile phone and cameras the girl behind the Ryan Air check in desk turned to her colleague and said:
“Do you know what’s happening about mobile phones and cameras?”
“I think they can be taken on alright but otherwise only essential hand luggage”
She then turned to me and said:
“Yes I think you can, but it’s up to the Captain”!
I removed my phone and cameras from my luggage, put it in my plastic bag and checked in.
Until some sort of international policy is adopted most countries will continue to allow hand luggage. However, I feel that airlines will take this opportunity to put an end to the increasingly large amounts of hand luggage carried on to flights.
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