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Aviation security

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Aviation security

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    This article is a travel topic
Aviation security refers to measures taken to keep aircraft and their passengers and crew safe. Aviation security has existed throughout most of the history of aviation. But various events throughout history have led to heightened security for those traveling on board aircraft. During the 1970s, modern airport security was first introduced. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, security was heightened worldwide. A ban on carrying liquids was introduced in 2006. Over the years, experts have tried best to determine the best ways to conduct security of air travel, and what items to permit and ban.

Airport design

Each commercial airport contains a sterile area where passengers must be screened prior to entry. The screening process includes examination of the passengers and their carry-on luggage. Luggage is generally x-rayed as it passes along a conveyor belt. Passengers have traditionally passed through a metal detector, though in recent years, airports in some places x-ray passengers with a millimeter wave scanner. Those who cannot be accurately examined with these devices may be subject to a patdown.

Forbidden items

In all countries, it is forbidden to carry various items onto the cabin of an aircraft that are believed to have the potential to do harm to passengers and crew. The restrictions vary by country, but some items are universally banned. In addition, some items are also banned in checked luggage.

Commonly banned items include, but are not limited to:

  • Firearms
  • Knives (some countries may allow knives with small blades)
  • Explosives
  • Flammable liquids
  • Large sports equipment (e.g. Baseball bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs)
  • Tools (e.g. Hammers, saws, axes, box cutters)
  • Lighters


Since 2006, when a test run was made of peroxide bombs, airport security worldwide first banned carrying on any liquids, gels, aerosols, and items with similar consistencies. The ban was later revised to allow small containers of up to a 3.4 fl oz or 100 ml capacity. These include the "travel size" items sold in many stores.

But there are still limits. The collection of liquids one is carrying on must be placed in a gallon-sized bag. Each passenger is allowed one such bag of these. During the screening process, the bag should be placed in a conspicuous location for the screener to see.

Common items that fall into this category include:

  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Deoderant
  • Sunblock lotion
  • Moisturizing cream

How to successfully pass security

  • Obey the law: That's what they are making sure you are doing, so if you do, you are complying with their guidelines
  • Don't try to smuggle on any banned items: Scanners used for screening luggage are very high tech and can detect anything that has been banned. Chances of getting away with a smuggle are extremely low. Even if you are not planning on harming anyone, you are still breaking the law by carrying them on and will get caught. Don't try to disguise a banned item as something permitted or hide it between items, hoping the scanner will not see between them. It simply will not work.
  • Be honest: It is hard for most to lie straight-faced, and agents are looking out for the signs of lying
  • Have nothing to hide: You may draw unwanted suspicion to yourself if you are trying to keep a secret, even if legal
  • Cooperate: If you fail to cooperate without a fight, you will draw further unwanted scrutiny
  • Have the required documents ready: This shows that you are willing to allow the agents to see them
  • Carry the full list of forbidden items: Print out a copy with the printer showing a date as close as possible to your day of travel. This way, if you are questioned about an item you are carrying, and falsely told it is not permitted, you can show it is permitted. You can either have a printout or have a window for the page of the site of that country already open on your smartphone.

Air travel security sites of various countries