The police here claim to have disrupted a terrorist threat to blow up planes in flight between the UK and US. ‘Disrupted’ is an interesting word. It is rather different to ‘thwarted’ which would be more comforting, but better than ‘delayed’ I suppose.
Details are murky, but from the precautions now being taken it appears that they are concerned that liquid explosives would be used, and detonated using something else carried in as hand-luggage. There are, of as today, enormous restrictions on what can be carried on board: no newspaper, no book, no food, no drink, no lap-top, no mobile phone, no ipod, no headphones. All of these have to be checked. If this goes on it might mean that I’ll be forced to watch a movie on my next transatlantic flight; something, for some reason, I have never managed to do.
Here is what you are allowed to carry on board, all of which must be placed in a clear plastic bag and not in your pockets, which must be empty. If the fear of liquid explosives is a real one, this might be with us for some time:
pocket size wallets and pocket size purses plus contents (for example money, credit cards, identity cards etc (not handbags))
travel documents essential for the journey (for example passports and travel tickets)
prescription medicines and medical items sufficient and essential for the flight (e.g. diabetic kit), except in liquid form unless verified as authentic
spectacles and sunglasses, without cases
contact lens holders, without bottles of solution
for those travelling with an infant: baby food, milk (the contents of each bottle must be tasted by the accompanying passenger)
sanitary items sufficient and essential for the flight (nappies, wipes, creams and nappy disposal bags)
female sanitary items sufficient and essential for the flight, if unboxed (eg tampons, pads, towels and wipes)
tissues (unboxed) and/or handkerchiefs
keys (but no electrical key fobs)
All passengers must be hand searched, and their footwear and all the items they are carrying must be x-ray screened.
These searches and security checks are causing chaos, especially at Heathrow. Not a good day to be flying.