Over the past two weeks I have been on a cruise from Sydney Australia to various New Zealand ports and then home again. This gave me an opportunity to experience first hand security within an airport here in Australia, as well as security on board a ship.
I am a person who likes to remain busy when I am travelling (and not being seasick), and I was determined to take some knitting with me on our cruise to New Zealand. The rules on bringing knitting needles on board of an aircraft have now being relaxed… oh boy that means that we little old ladies who like to knit will now be able to use those blunt end needles again… but the rules relating to embroidery scissors have not been relaxed.
My saga begins at Canberra airport because I made the mistake of packing my little kits with crochet hooks and embroidery scissors in the wrong bag. As I walked through the security my bag that I was carrying as hand luggage failed the test when it went through x-ray. They also queried a crochet hook that was not quite ordinary and some other items. In my view none of the items should have been considered as dangerous. Anyhow my argument is not with the Canberra Airport security people, but is with the silliness of the rules. I believe that these rules should be relaxed.
First of all, I have to praise the security staff at Canberra Airport. They were very polite and I was not stressed over the little incident. In fact they were quite helpful, and I am glad that they are not like the TSA. Our Australian security staff are the best when it comes to fairly applying these silly rules.
When my bag failed I had to go through the bag and extract the offending items. I actually had a bag within a bag and in the end I was allowed to take that bag with the offending items and request that the bag be placed with our checked luggage. I think that this was a very fair outcome… but they also told me that they do confiscate the nail and embroidery scissors. I suspect that they would prefer to not have to confiscate them and that they do think the rules are quite silly. All was well, and I finally got through security.
What is really hysterical about such a saga is that we can go through security and not be allowed to have such items as cigarette lighters etc. yet just around the corner, and on the way to the gate is a shop that sells cigarette lighters. In other words a smoker might have his lighter confiscated at the security gate, but as soon as he is through the gate he can purchase a new one. I was not able to check to see if the shop also sold small scissors, yet I was amused over the irony of the situation.
After we arrived in Sydney and picked up our checked baggage we boarded a bus that took us to the terminal for our P&O cruise on the Pacific Jewel. Boarding commenced near midday and was uneventful, but we had to go through another security check. We got through that one with flying colours. I had checked all of my baggage and so I did not bring any bags on board with me. What I noticed is that a few passengers failed when they went through the metal detector.
The security for P&O is handled by their own security employees. These employees were not necessarily Australian, and many of them appeared to be Indian. They were thoroughly professional in their approach with passengers. Not once did I see a passenger who had failed the metal detector test being hand searched. Instead they always used the wand and it was usually a thorough yet quick check of the person.
Whilst we were on the cruise we had to wear a passenger tag. The tag was scanned each time we left the ship at a port in New Zealand and it was tagged again when we embarked again. The bar code was accompanied by a picture of the passenger, thus it would have been difficult for a non-paying person to board the ship pretending to be another passenger. Also, every time we embarked at each port at the end of our sightseeing day, our packages were sent through the x-ray machine.
My only comment on this process is the silliness of one individual security officer who got a bit high-handed because I took my embroidery scissors off the ship and had them in my bag that I took with me. Since we were not boarding an aircraft, and as far as I knew there is no such restriction relating to being on a ship, I found his attitude to be stupid. However, he is just one person out of a number of staff who had always been quite professional in their handling of the passengers. When this incident happened I just shrugged my shoulders, and since we were travelling in a bus most days (except for the two train trips) I was not too concerned over the situation because I was not going to need those scissors to cut yarn!!