If you are one of the millions heading off to visit friends and family this Christmas, then you may well be shopping for those special festive gifts, but with tough airline security and luggage restrictions in place, you might want to leave the present wrapping until you arrive at your destination.
In November 2011, the TSA (Transport Security Administration) in the United States announced that they would unwrap any Christmas gifts deemed ‘suspicious’, and the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) has issued warnings to anyone travelling by air over the Christmas period, to ensure that ‘dangerous goods’ are not packed in their luggage… but what are dangerous goods?
Well, simple things like batteries for a child’s toy, toys shaped as guns and knives, even those gorgeous sparkling snow globes can set off airport alarms, and in previous years, Manchester Airport suffered a security alert when an unsuspecting traveller packed a Christmas pudding in their hand luggage!
A Christmas pudding may be a traditional festive treat to you and me, but it seems they have the density similar to that of the explosive Semtex, and can look very much like a potential bomb to sophisticated security scanners.
If you are travelling to or through the United States over the Christmas period, the TSA recommend that you do not place any wrapped packages in your checked luggage whatsoever. Instead, they advise travellers to place all Christmas presents and gifts into their carry-on luggage, but they should remain unwrapped, they must not contain liquids over 100ml, and they should not be listed on the ‘dangerous items’ list.
The CAA are advising people to think carefully before transporting any Christmas gifts that could be potentially dangerous to the occupants of an aircraft, such as fireworks, camping gas cylinders, tear gas, poisons, corrosives, and toy gun caps, and they also reserve the right to open any suspicious looking Christmas presents!
So, if you were thinking of getting your dad a blowtorch, your grandmother a new car battery, and your great-aunt Annie some weed killer this Christmas, you might want to drive to your holiday destination, or risk spending the festive season “banged up abroad”!