Sunday, July 02, 2023

41,300 banned items removed from check-in bags at Mumbai airport in 5 months

Mumbai: An unusual air travel trend has picked up in recent months which has passengers increasingly packing prohibited items into check-in bags. Leading the list is e-cigarettes, 15,283 of which were removed from check-in bags by Mumbai airport's in-line security team between January and May. All prohibited items thus removed in the five months number about 41,300.

"The airport has witnessed a significant surge in prohibited items being packed into check-in luggage. The rate of rejected check-in bags compared to total number of check-in bags screened was 0.31 % in December 2022. It climbed to 0.73% in May," said a Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) spokesperson. While in December nearly 16.1 lakh check-in bags were screened by Mumbai airport's in-line security team, the number went up slightly to 16.3 lakh in May.

In the peak summer travel season of May, the main disruptor was power banks, an average 130 removed daily from check-in bags. The other most common prohibited items in a check-in bag were lighters and the unsuspecting copra, or dry coconut. Unlike fresh coconuts which passengers carry in check-in bags, dry coconut is highly inflammable and is banned both in check-in and cabin bags. The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) included it in the prohibited list of items in March last year; most passengers remain unaware. In May alone, Mumbai airport's security team removed 943 dry coconuts from check-in bags. That month, 12,045 banned items were removed from checked-in bags, the highest ever possibly for Mumbai airport.

What it means is that the passenger concerned was contacted for the laid-down process of being present in person or on camera when the bag was opened. If the passenger had already boarded say, a connecting flight, the airport security team contacted a representative of the airline concerned who should be present when the bag is opened. The airline contacts the passenger for permission. In most such cases, the passenger reaches the destination, but the check-in bag arrives on a later flight. Packing such prohibited items leads to problems for the passenger, the airport and the airline concerned.

02/07/2023 Manju V/Times of India

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