I didn’t realise that air travel security was such a rich topic. It seems like I underestimated things. A woman carried a stun gun and a knife through security without anyone noticing:

A woman passed through security screening at New York’s LaGuardia Airport with a stun gun and knife in her purse—but later discovered the mistake herself and alerted authorities.

Elsewhere, at the obscure Humberside Airport, security staff did at least manage to notice a meat cleaver. Well, those things must make a hell of an X-ray shadow! It seems that it was an honest mistake, though:

A man arrested at Humberside Airport after he was allegedly found with a meat cleaver, has been released without charge.


“He was a passenger and had a boarding card, but as soon as he reached the security search area it was picked up on straight away”.

And over at Metafilter, quonsar hits the bullseye with this rant:

it’s just a matter of time, no matter what *anyone* does, before another plane falls out of the sky for no apparent reason, before another plane skids off a runway and explodes into flames or undershoots a runway and impales itself on radar or lighting pitons. they always have, and likely always will. christ, you people and your “it’s a different world now” crock are nothing but patsies for the scumbags posturing and pretending to solve the problem. you even talk in coded little fear-bites: “the seriousness of the situation”, “it’s a new age”. you don’t realize you contradict yourself—" the most dangerous weapon of all is the will. And a determined foe will find a way”. on this you are absolutely correct, and no amount of citizen harrassment, dumbass judgement-impaired “security officers” or even the complete absence of knives, boxcutters and sharpened objects of every kind from the face of the planet will prevent it. the entire country seems to have taken leave of its senses.

So what have we learned? Some items can easily be taken onto flights:

  • Bullets
  • Stun guns
  • Knives

Other items, on the other hand, cannot:

  • Box cutters
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • Meat cleavers

Other suggestions for weapons available during a flight:

  • Plastic cutlery, whilst not much use for cutting or stabbing, can nonetheless be used to inflict an eye injury.
  • The spine of a paperback book makes a good cosh for hitting someone in the head.
  • The cable of the inflight entertainment headphones can be used as a garotte.
  • Batteries inside a sock can be swung as a club to incapacitate an opponent.
  • Miniature bottles of wine as served from the trolley, when broken against a convenient hard surface such as a folding tray table, become the Glaswegians’ infamous daggers.

I’m being a bit facetious, but just trying to point out that, short of drugging passengers such that they sleep out their flight, nothing can remove risk. On the other hand, spotting obvious things like stun guns and knives would be a lot more useful than banning manicure equipment.