Airport security



  • Nothing to do with technology, but recently, I bought a new "zippo" lighter. I had had a previous one for some years and decided it was time for a replacement.

    Today, I drove from my home in the midlands of England to Germany, only to get straight on a plane and come back again (another long story but bear with me as I wont go into it here). Imagine my surprise when I tried to get through the security at Dusseldorf only to be told I could not take my zippo on board as (wait for it) "it can be used to start a fire".

    The only way that I could take my zippo back home was (a) store it in my luggage in the hold (which I did not have) or (b) remove all of the wadding from the lighter, rendering it useless before going on board (which is what I had to do). Note that if I wanted to take a gas filled lighter on board this was fine - it did not contain a liquid!

    I am now the proud owner of a 3 week old zippo lighter with no wadding and no meaningful use!

    WTF?



  • Airport security is so much fun :)

    There's an airport in Europe, where your confiscated bottles with liquid are either stopped / repacked / whatever, OR thrown out to an open trash can, standing just around the corner BEHIND security. You can probably just wait till your 2 litres of water are placed there, finish security check, go into the airport and come back to take your bottle - noone looks at that bin and noone will stop you with your liquid probably, because you can buy the same bottle in tax-free shop... I looked around if that was some evil scheme and they placed a camera pointed at that place, but haven't noticed any - you can go and take anything probably.



  • Strange. Perhaps the security personell wasn't trained well. I believe the regulations only say that you're not allowed to carry a Zippo (or anything else that has been in contact with flammable fluids) in your check-in luggage as it coul'd accidently cause a fire. The luggage part of the plane might be lower pressurized than the passenger cabin, so fluids like petrol will evaporate quickly, possilbly creating an very cumbustible environment, which is clearly unwanted. And yes, they really do recognize a zippo lighter when x-raying. Happended to a friend of mine. Could take it with him after showing the security personell, that it has never been used.

    Traveling with an petrol camping stove can be problematic as well, even when thoroughly cleaned.


     



  • @fly2 said:

    Strange. Perhaps the security personell wasn't trained well.

    In my observation, the security personnel all fall into two groups: those who are too stupid to care, and those who are fully aware of how silly the rules handed to them are, and don't care. They don't make the rules and their jobs do not depend on them enforcing the rules properly (as evidenced by the way that they routinely miss most of the stuff that their own penetration testing people try to smuggle through).

     

    I believe the regulations only say that you're not allowed to carry a Zippo (or anything else that has been in contact with flammable fluids) in your check-in luggage as it coul'd accidently cause a fire.

    Of course, you can purchase many flammable fluids in the shops on the inside of the security barrier. High-purity spirits makes excellent fire-lighting fluid (it's just a bit expensive to use for that purpose on a regular basis).

     

    The luggage part of the plane might be lower pressurized than the passenger cabin, so fluids like petrol will evaporate quickly, possilbly creating an very cumbustible environment, which is clearly unwanted.

    Fires don't work very well in baggage holds, because they're both very cold and have a very low oxygen level (usually they aren't really pressurised at all). Nothing that needs oxygen to burn is likely to start a significant fire (and the fire-suppression equipment in the holds is more than capable of taking care of small ones before they can grow). As such, petroleum is not really a major concern. Chemicals that exhibit fire-like behaviour without heat and oxygen are a more pressing problem (in particular lithium, which "burns" with water, not oxygen).



  • Of course, you can purchase many flammable fluids in the shops on the inside of the security barrier.

    Yes, but this is carry on luggage
     

    Fires don't work very well in baggage holds, because they're both very cold and have a very low oxygen level

    Actually I believe on most comercial airliners, the holds are both pressurized and heated, to avoid problems with stuff freezing. (and wikipedia agrees with me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airliner) and aren't animals transported in the same (or at least in non-airtight connected) cabin as the luggge?), the evaporation concerns are more when there is cabin pressure loss.  Still, I agree that it is very unlikely that a zippo would cause a fire. I believe the reason for such regulations is, that you don't want people to transport large ammounts of flammable fluids/gases in an passenger plane. So you make a regulation agains any ammount of such substances

    Another really silly regulation (airline regulation not a goverment regulation) is, that you often have to deflate you bycicle tires when transporting them in an aircraft. Which is quite silly because even if the luggage hold wasn't pressureized, the addidtional 1 bar of pressure diffferential is unlikely to be a problem with a racing tire that is pressureized at 7-9 already anyways. If the tire doesn't burst at normal air pressure with the additional weight of the cyclist, it won't burst at +1bar without the weight of the cyclist...



  • @Martin said:

    I am now the proud owner of a 3 week old zippo lighter with no wadding and no meaningful use!

    WTF?

    I've heard that Zippo is very good at replacing broken lighters.  Supposedly, they used to replace a broken lighter no matter why the lighter was broken, if it just stopped working, they'd replace it, if you shot it, they'd replace it.  I'm not sure if they still do that anymore. 



  • @asuffield said:

    Of course, you can purchase many flammable fluids in the shops on the inside of the security barrier. High-purity spirits makes excellent fire-lighting fluid (it's just a bit expensive to use for that purpose on a regular basis).

    40% by volume ethanol is only "70% proof", and doesn't catch fire at normal room temperatures. It needs to be warmed before pouring over your Christmas pudding...

     



  • Some time ago,there were threats that a terrorist assault using liquid explosives were planned on an airplane. So I believe the reason for all this is simply that since then everyone is scared by liquids...



  • @bonzombiekitty said:

    I've heard that Zippo is very good at replacing broken lighters.  Supposedly, they used to replace a broken lighter no matter why the lighter was broken, if it just stopped working, they'd replace it, if you shot it, they'd replace it.  I'm not sure if they still do that anymore. 

     

    You are quite right; Zippo do indeed still repair their lighters for free (http://www.zippo.co.uk/repairs.php). However, I doubt that deliberately tearing it apart would count!



  • @PSWorx said:

    Some time ago,there were threats that a terrorist assault using liquid explosives were planned on an airplane. So I believe the reason for all this is simply that since then everyone is scared by liquids...

    Yes, I believe Manchester UK was the target in this insance.

    But the thing is that an ordinary gas lighter is acceptable. Have you ever tried spraying the gas from a refill can? It is kept (both in the can and in the lighter) in liquid form!



  • Good news folks; the lighter is restored!

    Take one ball of cotton wool, undo the rolling to give you something to work with and then gently push into the lighter with a pair of tweezers ensuring that the wick is entwined within the layers. Fill with fuel and keep away from German airport security.



  • @Martin said:

    @PSWorx said:

    Some time ago,there were threats that a terrorist assault using liquid explosives were planned on an airplane. So I believe the reason for all this is simply that since then everyone is scared by liquids...

    Yes, I believe Manchester UK was the target in this insance.

    But the thing is that an ordinary gas lighter is acceptable. Have you ever tried spraying the gas from a refill can? It is kept (both in the can and in the lighter) in liquid form!

     

    I didn't mean to imply that there was any kind of [i]logic[/i] behind the security measures :)



  • Now it's believed that two terrorists will board, each with one bottle of liquid.  In flight, they will pour the contents of the bottles together to produce a chemical reaction that will blow up the plane.  So you have to throw all bottles of liquid into the trash.  At the end of the day all the trash is thrown into the trash compactor where ....

     

     



  • @newfweiler said:

    Now it's believed that two terrorists will board, each with one bottle of liquid.  In flight, they will pour the contents of the bottles together to produce a chemical reaction that will blow up the plane.  So you have to throw all bottles of liquid into the trash.  At the end of the day all the trash is thrown into the trash compactor where ....

    Not that anybody actually knows of any two liquids that can be carried in regular bottles, and which will, when mixed, blow up a plane. Most chemists find the very idea absurd - there is just not that much energy in a bottle of liquid, without resorting to nuclear effects (which are not that simple). The chemicals proposed by US politicians are absurd - if you tried mixing hydrogen peroxide like that, you would take your own hand off and cause no harm to the guy sitting in the seat in front of you. Producing an effective peroxide explosive is very hard, requires special equipment, and takes hours to complete the reaction.

    People get this idea from the movies that bombs are small. They aren't. Bombs are extremely large and heavy, if you want to blow something up. Nothing that you can fit into your pocket will cause significant damage to an airplane (although it could form an effective anti-personnel weapon, like a fragmentation grenade).

    The whole thing is ludicrous.



  • @PSWorx said:

    @Martin said:

    @PSWorx said:

    Some time ago,there were threats that a terrorist assault using liquid explosives were planned on an airplane. So I believe the reason for all this is simply that since then everyone is scared by liquids...

    Yes, I believe Manchester UK was the target in this insance.

    But the thing is that an ordinary gas lighter is acceptable. Have you ever tried spraying the gas from a refill can? It is kept (both in the can and in the lighter) in liquid form!

     

    I didn't mean to imply that there was any kind of [i]logic[/i] behind the security measures :)

    I think it can be pretty easily argued that there's absolutely no logic in baning an entire phase of matter.  Well, except for plasmas.

     
    It's a bit ironic that they won't let you bring ice onboard either, claiming it's a liquid.  Sorry, ice is a solid...
     



  • >Fires don't work very well in baggage holds, because they're both very
    cold and have a very low oxygen level (usually they aren't really
    pressurised at all).

     

     Lots of misinformation there.   The passenger floor is for very very good reasons, full of large holes, adding up to many square meters.  The airplane fuselage is uniformly pressurized.  It has to be, otherwise the shell would have to be much stronger to handle the pressure imbalances.  Therefore the luggage has exactly the same pressure  the passengers experience.

     

    The floor is like a sieve by design, because if a cargo door were to fly open, and the floor were solid, the sudden pressure difference would cause the floor to collapse. 

    Not only bad for the passengers, but most of the control lines to the tail run straight  back under the floor.  It would be unwise to have the floor buckle and snap all the tail controls.

     

     


     

     

     

    Nothing that needs oxygen to burn is likely to
    start a significant fire (and the fire-suppression equipment in the
    holds is more than capable of taking care of small ones before they can
    grow). As such, petroleum is not really a major concern. Chemicals that
    exhibit fire-like behaviour without heat and oxygen are a more pressing
    problem (in particular lithium, which "burns" with water, not oxygen).



  • With a "zippo" lighter, you're out of luck.  But if you have a real Zippo, then I'm sure they'll fix it up for you, if you enclose a note telling them why the cotton is gone. 



  • According to my calculations, 40% alcohol (by volume) is 80 proof.  Not that I see the relevance of your comment.

    I don't know what the minimum proof for flammability is, but I doubt you can get it on an airplane.  I do know that 160 proof rum burns quite nicely in the volcano crater of one of those big bowl-fruit juice & rum-tropical girlie drinks.



  • Same thing happened to me in Sept. The guard was 'being a nice guy' by 'secretly' telling me to 'throw away the guts' and to 'not be obvious'..

    Didn't even realize I had it on me until I went for the before-a-long-ass-flight-smoke. Normally this wouldn't bother me, but it was a present from the girlfriend at the time so it had some value to it. I now own a zippo shell. (Post note: co-worker felt sorry for me and gave me one of their spares so I'm all set again haha)

     


     



  • Well, the cotton wool did not work - it could only absorb enough fuel to last on a flight back to Germany!!

    No, really folks it only lasted a day or so and as a result I did indeed call Zippo in the UK where a very nice lady told me that she was fully aware of the situation and dispatched a replacement mechanism (including the wadding) the same day for no charge.

    Zippo lighter fully restored, along with my faith in some suppliers (well, Zippo anyway).


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