Sharp objects allowed back on aircraft
London Telegraph | April 3, 2005
Airline passengers will once again be dining with metal cutlery, knitting jumpers and manicuring their nails aboard flights from British airports following a relaxation of anti-terrorist rules.
Ministers have changed security guidelines because they believe some sharp household objects no longer pose a threat should they fall into the hands of a would-be hijacker.
Bladed and pointed items were banned from cabins after the September 11 attack.
But transport chiefs now claim that security improvements such as sealed cockpits, closed circuit television and sky marshals have removed the need for prohibition.
A Department of Transport spokesman said that they now believed that there were enough security measures in place to allow passengers to bring these items back on to planes.
"Air marshals have been deployed. Cockpit doors are now locked. Access to the cockpit is now impossible for a passenger, and we can now relax the rules on certain items."
From April 25, passengers will be permitted to carry knitting needles and scissors with blades shorter than 3cm in their hand luggage.
British Airways managers said ministers had taken a "sensible" course by allowing their passengers to once again eat with steel knives and forks.
"We are very keen to get metal cutlery back on our aircraft," a spokesman said.
"Our customers were certainly not enamoured by it. If you are sitting in a first class seat and getting served a rather nice meal on porcelain plate, it was rather strange to have to eat it with a couple of plastic implements."
A Heathrow Airport spokeswoman confirmed that hundreds of thousands of passengers had been forced to hand over anything from tweezers to nail files as a result of the 2001 guidelines.
Within a year, 15,000 sharp objects were being pulled from hand luggage at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted every day, she said.
While the ban is set to be lifted on knitting needles and nail scissors, other items such as corkscrews and penknives remain prohibited.
Airports and airlines each decide their own specific policy and objects like nail files and tweezers remain discretionary.