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Air travel rules made stricter

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UK aftermath: Security at airports around the country tightened

ON HIGH ALERT: Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) jawans stand guard on the tarmac at the Begumpet International Airport in Hyderabad on Friday. - Mohammed Yousuf
ON HIGH ALERT: Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) jawans stand guard on the tarmac at the Begumpet International Airport in Hyderabad on Friday. - Mohammed Yousuf

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Travel tight and light!


*A passenger to be allowed only one hand luggage
*No liquid to be allowed in hand luggage
*Women would be allowed a handbag in addition to one-piece of carry-on bag
*Lap top to be allowed
*Baby food items to be allowed

New Delhi, Aug. 11

The Government on Friday tightened the rules for air travellers, following the foiled plot to blow up aircraft in the UK.

From now on, a domestic passenger would not be allowed to carry any liquid or gel on board the aircraft, the concept of only one handbag per passenger would be implemented strictly and airlines have been advised to close their check-in counters 30 minutes before the take off. Those catching international flights have been advised to report to the airport at least three hours before the scheduled departure time.

Further, security at airports around the country has been tightened and `sky marshals' will travel on domestic flights to ensure that no untoward incident happens during the flight.

Addressing a press conference, the Civil Aviation Secretary, Mr Ajay Prasad, said that from Friday all liquids, including shampoo, beverages, sun tan lotion and toothpaste, would not be allowed to be carried as hand luggage.

Handbag allowed

Women, however, would be allowed to carry a handbag or purse in addition to one-piece of carry-on bag. Besides, baby food items including milk and juices would be allowed. Asked whether a passenger would have to taste the baby food before being allowed on board the aircraft, the Secretary said that is something that would be left to the discretion of the security agencies. Similarly, a passenger would be allowed to carry liquid medicines or inhalers as long as they carry their medical prescription with them.

"The domestic airlines have been asked to strictly adhere to the practice of allowing a passenger to carry only one handbag. In case a passenger is carrying a lap top, then that would be allowed but he would be prohibited from carrying any other item on to the aircraft," Mr Prasad said. Unlike in the West, passengers would be allowed to carry mobile phones with them during domestic flights.

The latest security regulations have been imposed a day after British police foiled a plot to blow up aircraft in mid-flights between Britain and the US and the heightened threat perception within India in view of the Independence Day celebrations.

Placards

Domestic airlines have been advised to place placards at prominent places in the airport so that before checkingin passengers can know what are the items that can be carried as hand baggage and what need to be checked in. In addition, there would be a manual search of the handbag after it has been through an x-ray machine.

The new restrictions put in place on Friday were decided on after a series of review meetings between the Government, the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) among others. "We are not blindly following the security restrictions that have been put in place by other countries. While no handbags would be allowed on flights transiting through London to the US, these restrictions would not be in place for flights leaving India for other international destinations," Mr Prasad said.

Cooperation sought

Admitting that all these procedures could lead to some inconvenience and delays for passengers, the Secretary requested air travellers to co-operate with the authorities. "We would like to suggest to the passengers that they arrive early. It might be advisable for the passengers travelling on domestic flights to reach the airport at least 90 minutes before the departure of the flight. If a passenger is travelling international, we would request him to reach the airport at least three hours before the scheduled departure time," said the Secretary. Besides, international passengers travelling to the UK and the US have been advised to fully familiarise themselves with the new restrictions that have been imposed by those governments.

Asked if the latest restrictions on domestic air travellers were for a specific period of time, the Secretary replied in the negative. "We have been on a state of alert since last month's bomb blasts in Mumbai. While there is no specific threat perception pertaining to us, we have to respond to the security environment," Mr Prasad said.

While the Government will review the situation from time to time, the ban imposed on articles that a passenger can carry on board a domestic flight would remain in place till further order, the Secretary added.

Commenting on the heightened security at airports around the country, Mr Prasad said that the number of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel being deployed at the airports was being enhanced. "This would also help ensure that passenger bags are cleared faster."

Related Stories:
Hand luggage banned on flights from UK

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 12, 2006)
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