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People and Politics Forum 04.02.2008

"Are the limits on taking liquids on planes exagerrated?"

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More information:

Anti Terror Measures - How Effective Are the Security Checks at Airports?

Last year the EU commission imposed new security measures on airports. Liquids, gels and aerosols are only allowed in individual containers of 100ml and all containers must fit comfortably in one, transparent, re-sealable bag no larger than 20cm x 20cm. Anyone carrying more than permitted has to surrender excess amounts at the airport. This means six to seven tonnes of liquids have to be disposed of daily by German airports alone. Meanwhile a growing number of politicians and passengers are beginning to question the point of these anti-terror measures. The EU parliament has called on a review of the liquid ruling for passengers, saying there is no evidence that this increases safety levels.

Our Question is:

"Are the limits on taking liquids on planes exagerrated?"

Werner Horbaty, Nicaragua, writes:

"When I caught the first Jumbo jet to New York in 1970 you could board it just like a bus and arrive at the airport an hour before take-off. Now the US wants military escorts for commercial aircraft. A different show of liberty could be seen here during the revolution in the 1980‘s. The US had and still have a huge fortress for their embassy. The Swiss had and still have their doors wide open."

Gerhard Seeger, Philippines:

"Six centimetre knives can certainly cause fatal injuries but they are allowed on board. Water is banned. Security rules are a nuisance but necessary. But they must serve a purpose. Some rules are nonsensical, see the ruling on knives. Terrorists are more likely to use easily disguised plastic explosives ( small quantities with a huge effect) instead of conspicuous liquids. "

Martin Burmeister, Venezuela:

"My answer is a definite yes, especially because at airports outside Europe like here in South America liquids are allowed in your hand luggage."

Herbert Fuchs, Finnland:

"I find safety has to take absolute priority and passengers have to be checked thoroughly for articles that don’t belong in hand luggage, especially on long haul flights. There is no need to exaggerate on short haul flights on the basis of suspicion. Security staff ought to decide which passengers are allowed to take on which items. They ought to be less strict with some passengers, for example families, business travellers and tourists and not confiscate all sorts of things they have in their hand luggage. The products must however be factory sealed. But in case of doubt it is always better to be safe than sorry. "

Herbert Brasch, Germany:

"The report shows the arrogance of the EU Commissioner. If something is no longer relevant, then get rid of it. (German interior minister ) Wolfgang Schäuble shows he shares the Commissioner’s opinion with his constant Internet investigations."

Erich Hajek, Thailand:

"The current rules on liquids are just a harassment for normal passengers. Every intelligent terrorist will find a way of avoiding the safety checks and smuggling dangerous substances or weapons on board. But it does not suffice to change the rulings in Europe as similar rules were introduced world wide due to the blatant fear of terrorism in the US. Nevertheless, Europe should set a good example and return to plain common sense."

Gerhard Tonn, Philippines:

"Safety at airports and on board aircraft has absolute priority. Cosmetics in larger quantities do not pose a threat and are not banned by the US Federal Aviation Administration. Being checked with a beeper is acceptable, as is having your belt and shoes passed through an X-ray machine. I worked for an airline myself for many years. So I think I am able to judge when I say it is enough! More would not be good for air traffic as a whole."

Marco Stettler, Ukraine:

"We all want to fly safely, there is no question about that. But the widespread hysteria concerning safety is out of all proportion. As a frequent flyer who gets on a plane four times a week I have given up getting worked up although the safety checks are sometimes ludicrous. For example in Munich where "clean" transit passengers are checked a second time. I have seen a lot of people crying in the departure lounges, for example the Ukrainians who change planes in Budapest who are forced to throw away their duty free goods from Asia due to EU regulations. I get the impression these measures are just there to show the problem is being taken seriously without being relevant to ensuring safety."

Lee Davis Cornelius, USA:

"I think the war on terror is a little overrated. It may be time to return to the period before 9/11. I am sure the airlines would be happy."

Klaus Warkentin, Mexico:

"US security hysterics triggers exactly what the terrorists want: fear. Why are airline passengers checked, but not passengers and their luggage travelling by train, bus or ship? These strict and annoying controls have achieved nothing except wasting time, frustration and irritation. They should be eased, like here in Latin America."

Claus Stauffenberg, Australia:

"Security legislation on airlines can often be a knee-jerk reaction, though they are implemented with good reason... The best option in dealing with liquids is to have duty-free items use security anti-tamper seals for quick transgress of passengers, and unsealed items requiring the use of chemical sniffers. Of course, if manufacturers developed an airport range that used clear plastic bottles and packing, there wouldn't be a problem with the current legislation."

Oskar Weber, Costa Rica:

"Airport controls are not only over the top, they are also very often useless. A sharpened bamboo knife can be just as lethal as a conventional weapon made of steel. But of course detectors can't pinpoint bamboo knives that easily."

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