NEW DELHI: Flyers may now need to take out their wallets, mobile phones, chargers and any electronic item from handbags for separate screening at airports. Till now, only laptops and tablets were required to be kept in trays for screening but that is no longer the case.
Odd-sized pens are also being screened with care after some cases of detection of knives in them in the past few days. Passengers flying out of Delhi in the past few weeks have been asked to take these new steps and a senior CISF official said this is being done across the country for speedier security clearance at airports.
“While scanning handbags, the screen shows lot of clutter in bags. In case of a jumbled picture, screeners request removal of other electronic items and chargers. Pens are checked for knives if they are heavier,” said a CISF official.
In cases of doubt, we need to check those bags manually by removing the entire stuff in them. This slows down processing time. Removing these things will help speed up handbag screening without affecting the quality of checks in any way,” said a CISF official.
The CISF has now gone to a “back to basics” practice where boards will be put up at pre-embarkation security check (PESC) points reminding them to remove anything not allowed in aircraft cabin that might have remained in handbag by mistake like knives or scissors. People with gun licences often bring handbags that have bullets in them. CISF personnel checking these things and removing them slows the process and leads to long queues.
Congestion at PESC is a major concern as most Indian airports, including the busiest metro ones in Delhi and Mumbai, have not added any capacity in recent past though domestic air travel has been growing at over 20% for four years now.
Last year, the CISF had raised a red flag over increasing rush at choked airports. “Total passenger traffic at all airports has increased by (over) 65% in the last five years. However, this increase is skewed and is abnormally high during peak hours at certain airports… Despite this huge increase in (peak hour rush), the security infrastructure and manpower have remained the same, resulting in congestion at security check points and undue pressure on security personnel for speedy clearance,” the CISF had said in a report titled “Future Projection September 2017”.
Since expanding existing terminals and building new airports takes years, aviation authorities are trying to make use of the technology to help manage growing air traffic at our infra-starved airports.
The Airports Authority of India has been offered the 3D-based computed tomography scanners being tested at international hubs like New York JFK and London Heathrow that do not require passengers to take laptops and small bottles of liquid out of hand bags for security check.