Caught a terrorist at the airport yesterday. Had to tackle him in the restaurant after I heard him ordering pie “Allah mode” which we all know is al-Qaeda extremist for “God is ice cream.”
Can’t be too careful these days, not with the stuff people are trying to bring on board the aircraft.
Like the meat cleaver.
No kidding, somebody actually tried to bring a meat cleaver onto a plane at Victoria International Airport. Not for nefarious purposes, just one of those things you toss in the bag while packing for Maui, or Mexico, or wherever: sunscreen, camera, cleaver…
It’s now in a box in the airport basement, one of three big containers of prohibited items seized during screening of carry-on luggage over the past while.
The haul also includes a toy gun with the profile of the real deal, a set of pruning shears, a switchblade comb, several tent pegs and a nasty-looking knife with a blade worthy of a slasher movie.
In fact, there are dozens and dozens of blades — so many Swiss Army knives that the airport hopes to give one to each kid arriving for a big Boy Scout jamboree in 2014.
Among the other seized items are box cutters, $100 Leatherman tools, screwdrivers, the base of a blender, a belt of fake bullets and scores and scores of scissors and corkscrews. (Apparently, Victorians are quite fond of fur-lined handcuffs, too, though none were visible among the current collection).
All of which brings a thought to mind: You people have heard of 9/11, right? It’s not as though the rules are new.
OK, it’s not always easy to remember what we’re allowed to bring as carry-on items. Knitting needles, nail clippers, cremated human remains, yes. Meat thermometers, spiked collars, party crackers, no.
We heard last week that the U.S. will soon ease its rules. As of April 25, American carry-on items may include folding knives with blades no longer that six centimetres (basically pen knives), hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks, little souvenir baseball bats, plastic bats, ski poles, pool cues and up to two golf clubs. (Presumably one of the golf clubs must be a one iron; not even a terrorist can hit a one iron.)
The relaxed regulations, which will put the U.S. in line with international standards, were labelled “dangerous” and “shortsighted” by a flight attendants’ union.
Me, I just wonder about the logjam at the security gate as passengers stagger through with hockey sticks in one arm, cremated remains in the other.
For here’s the real issue: not the type of carry-on luggage, but the sheer amount of it. As restrictions on checked baggage have become tighter, passengers have pushed the limits of how much they can carry on board, lurching under loads that would cripple a Nepalese sherpa.
The rules might say one piece of hand luggage and one smaller personal item, but the reality at check-in is often a river of humanity that resembles French refugees fleeing Paris in 1940, handcarts overflowing with as many possessions as can be carried. Bags, boxes, valises. Think I saw someone trying to smuggle caged chickens once. Maybe that’s what the meat cleaver was for.
While the amount of carry-on luggage is rising, the storage space isn’t. That’s why so many passengers butt in line when flights are called: They want to hog all the overhead bins. Those of us who dutifully wait to board until our section of seats is called find ourselves SOL (sitting on luggage).
Yet when we call for justice (we thought this was why sky marshals pack guns) the scofflaws go unpunished. Respect for authority falters. A moral malaise sets in. Young people turn feral, go Mad Max on a terrified citizenry. Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.
So this is what we need at the security gate: Never mind the tent pegs and meat cleavers, jail the guy who tries to pass off his steamer trunk as carry-on. The airport can take it and do what it does with the rest of the contraband abandoned by passengers — donate it to charity.
Tourists, not terrorists, are the real threat.
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