LOGISTICALLY, in what seems like another example of no coordination between the bureaucrats and those with businesses to run, this month’s new hand baggage restrictions on liquids and gels at UAE and Qatar airports could not have come at a worse time – just before the summer peak travel season.
With travellers’ nerves frayed well before they get to the airport, what with having to manage families and shopping for assorted relatives, new luggage rules will not be welcomed – and much swearing is likely to be heard at airports around the region.
In terms of everyone’s security, however, it’s the best possible moment. More people at airports means more potential for trouble – and the peak season has in the past proved to be a magnet for terrorists.
The new rules are in line with recommendations by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and travellers to North America, Europe, Australia and Singapore should already be cognisant of the rules.
So, while the impact of this new move is most likely to be felt on flights to the Indian subcontinent, in Europe, airport security queues are lengthening again with passengers attempting to bypass restrictions by hiding toiletries in their hand baggage, according to media reports. In fact, one regional UK airport reported a 50 per cent rise in the number of confiscated items per shift.
Clearly, old habits die hard. And as the travel process gets increasingly arduous, agents can only grit their teeth and paste on the smiles.
By Keith J Fernandez