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Carry-On Luggage Contents for Passengers Coming From Europe!!

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Sep 11th, 2006, 02:01 PM
  #1
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Carry-On Luggage Contents for Passengers Coming From Europe!!

This issue of security for flights from Europe to the United States seems to be a bewildering series of contradictions and vagaries.

Just because you cleared security for the flight over, does not mean that you are going to have equal success on the flight home!!

Having cleared TSA checking in Atlanta with no difficulty for my recent flight to Munich, I was totally caught unprepared when we arrived at the security checkpoint in the Zürich airport for our flight home.

Swiss security opened virtually all carry-on luggage and inspected all prescription containers containing pills, tablets, liquids, and capsules. Much to my amazement, every container top or cap in my possession was confiscated!

As a result, I arrived home minus the container top for every prescription and non prescription medicine I had with me. People even had containers of contact lens solution confiscated as near as I could tell from the protests coming from people behind me.

I asked the security man why he was confiscating container tops, whether they be screw on or snap on? His response was that if we had the tops, we could add water to the pills or tablets, shake the container, dissolve the pills, and have the makings of a bomb.

I kid you not. That was the procedure we went through, and that was the rationale we were given for having all of our medicine container tops taken from us.

I have asked two Ph. D. chemists what they thought of the rationale for confiscating container tops. They were as baffled as I.

Anybody got any views on why the Swiss at the Zürich airport decided to relieve us of our prescription bottle tops??

They said nothing about my portable CD player or any other electronic gear that people near us in line happened to have.

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Sep 11th, 2006, 02:05 PM
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That would be very upset bob_brown. I guess the answer is to have some small ziplock bags in your carryon and consequently when the bottle caps and tops are confiscated one could at least put the unclosed RX bottle in the ziplock bag. Or will that even be allowed for heavens sake.

BTW, do you or anyone else know about this. A poster on the Australian Board said that if one is flying from the US to another country the other country's security laws are in force. And when one is flying from another country to the US the US security laws are in force. I had never thought about this subject before.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 02:11 PM
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my friend I just traveled with is insulin dependent and they did not check her bag coming or going. Just thru the screening machine. we thought it was odd with her needles and all. They did however confiscate my liquor filled chocolate covered cherries-bummer
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Sep 11th, 2006, 02:11 PM
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I can even cover the pill container top with the palm of my hand and shake it. This is silly!

I can carry dry substance and dissolve it in the water glass provided by the airlines.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 02:11 PM
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Are you sure it was Swiss security (not that I doubt you)?

When we connected in Frankfurt, there was seperate security for flights to North America, but staffed by Germans (and they were thorough!). And, this was before the recent new regulations. It's only because a German on our flight explained this to us that we knew what was going on.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 02:13 PM
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< Carry-On Luggage Contents for Passengers Coming From Europe!!>

Don't you mean "Carry-On Luggage Contents for Passengers Coming From SWITZERLAND!!"?
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Sep 11th, 2006, 02:17 PM
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Continer tops? How incredibly odd (and inconvenient). Another use for those snack sized baggies I always carry. (But under the same rationale, shouldn't they also be confiscated?)
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Sep 11th, 2006, 02:19 PM
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Bob.
I didn't carry any prescriptions with me, but I experienced the same contrast in security procedures leaving the US for Europe and coming back, when I was totally unprepared for the much tighter procedures on the return flight.
I figured it was related to the date I was flying- so close to 9-11, and perhaps the new threat that came put yesterday, but who knows?
The people searching the bags and confiscating items do not always have all the detailed answers-they are the middlemen in the process, and it may be that he was trying to offer some explanation to a frustrated passenger to keep the line moving. It's a possibility.
My arrival back at work above Penn Station this morning happened just as a suspicious bag was found in the station and they cordoned off a large area to check it out. There's an edge today.
 
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Sep 11th, 2006, 02:23 PM
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I had a surprisingly different experience returning from Geneva, Switzerland yesterday (Sept. 10th). I had no trouble going through security there, but I had prepared myself since I was flying through London Heathrow on my way to Chicago. I carried one small bag (purse) that fit in the demonstration at the check-in counter in Geneva. I did have a new pair of contact lenses, but no other gels or liquids. At Heathrow, security was hand checking everything and everyone but people were carrying on bags that were very large. I couldn't figure it out. I was just happy to be able to bring new contact lenses on board.

Martha
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Sep 11th, 2006, 03:20 PM
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I've seen this issue with Zurich airport confiscating bottle tops posted previously here. There's also a post about it on the flyertalk travel security board so this is definitely an ongoing thing.

Strangely, some U.S airports are now starting to do this and not just by the TSA. Bottle tops are being "retained" by stores selling bottled water airside. However, this is not a TSA directive according to the TSA agent who regularly posts there to answer questions, so it may be an individual airport thing or people making up rules, who knows? This is a link to the 2 threads on flyertalk:
http://tinyurl.com/fmcvn
http://tinyurl.com/k8otm

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Sep 11th, 2006, 05:54 PM
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Hmm. Last time I checked Switzerland was in Europe. Has it moved?

Also, were they Swiss officials?
I don't think they were Bulgarians or Croations doing the security job in the Zürich airport.

Yes, I knew where I was! Zürich Airport, located in the suburb of Koten, Switzerland, Europe.

and yes they were the official security checkers at the x-ray machines.

Who in #%#%^#^# did you think they would be? Reps of bin Laden?

And luckily I had my medicines in a zip lock bags. Otherwise with all the air bumps we hit on the way home, my blood pressure medicines would have been all over the place in my carry-on.

Now, someone answer how this procedure prevents bomb making while flying.
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Sep 11th, 2006, 11:41 PM
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< Hmm. Last time I checked Switzerland was in Europe. Has it moved? >

1) You are posting in the European forum, therefore it would be superfluous for a Europe-wide posting
2) However you aren't making a Europe wide posting, you are talking about what happened in one country in Europe and the rules for other countries ARE different.
3) So your title is misleading & alarmist
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Sep 12th, 2006, 05:23 AM
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"can even cover the pill container top with the palm of my hand and shake it"


OMG! Don't tell them that or they'll start cutting off our hands next.
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Sep 12th, 2006, 07:57 AM
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And how about the liquid soap that is provided in the plane bathrooms?
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Sep 12th, 2006, 08:06 AM
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The idea of confisctating pill bottle tops is disturbing to me. You are are obviously a "together" person. But what if the passenger is elderly, with poor vision, and her medications get all jumbled together-she might take the wrong pill with bad medical consequences. Or what if a passenger is severely mentally ill, but then gets his medication for mental illness mixed up with his blood pressure meds-that is more likely to cause an "incident" on a plane than a bomb made in a pill bottle.
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Sep 12th, 2006, 02:50 PM
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I arrived home in Michigan yesterday from a trip to Siena and Rome, Italy, with a stopover in Amsterdam. We began our trip on September 1st.

When leaving the U.S. in Detroit, our carry-ons were screened, and mine was pulled aside and hand searched. The guard returned my bag and said the Mentos and the Big Red chewing gum foil wrappers had looked suspicious. We had to remove our shoes when walking through the screening area but not our jewelry. Other people at random were required to empty their pockets and remove their jewelry. It looked like more than half of the people had their carry-ons hand searched.

In Amsterdam, I had removed the foil wrappers, and our carry-ons were not hand searched, but we had to remove our watches, glasses, pocket contents and belts. We had to remove our shoes if they had metal on them--but others had to remove their shoes anyway. No liquid drinks were allowed on the plane, except for 1 baby bottle for each baby.

When we left Rome on September 11th for a stopover in Amsterdam, all our jewelry, shoes, belts, pocket contents, and eyeglasses had to go in the container and be screened. My (adult) daughter was not frisked, but I was. It was a firm and thorough frisking, with the female security guard firmly running her hands entirely over my chest (I am female). In fact, NO part of my body was untouched. I had stuff in slacks’ pockets, and she told me to empty them for inspection. No drinks were allowed on the plane, except for 1 baby bottle per baby. The guards spent a lot of time with people who had beverages. One family had a bottle labeled nursery water. The guard asked the parents if the water was special water. They said it was. He asked why it was special. They said it was boiled. He made them uncap it and drink some of it. He also only allowed 1 bottle total, be it water or milk and so many ounces. He told them anymore would be "too much." The majority of people were pulled aside after they walked through the screen and were interviewed by guards and/or frisked. Rome had the heaviest security I have seen to date.

Amsterdam also had thorough carry-on screening, and no drinks or liquids were allowed. We were each taken aside and asked several questions.

I did not see pill bottle caps or other bottle caps removed, and ours were not removed (I had a plastic bag with 5 pill bottles). Obviously, however, I did not see most of the people being screened, so it very well could have been happening randomly at one or all of the security areas. There were several trash cans at all security points, and there were plenty of items in all of them.

At Detroit (DTW), while we waited for our luggage, we could see several police officers (armed security guards) moving around everywhere. There were announcements telling people not to use their cell phones in the luggage claim area, and the police walked around telling people to turn them off if they were using them. When we first arrived, I had not heard the announcement, but thought I heard a guard tell a woman to turn off her cell. When the guard walked by me, I asked if I had heard right--that we couldn't use our cell phones. He said something like, "Believe me, you don't want to use your cells. If I hear a BOOM, you are the first one I would come after." He was not smiling, and his tone was not friendly; in fact, it was almost threatening. They were dead serious. While we waited for our luggage, we heard several other officers saying BOOM when they were telling people to put away their cell phones. This was new for me, as I have always been free to use my cell while waiting for luggage.

The security check for every one of our flights was unhurried and thorough. While the security personnel were pleasant and not unfriendly, they were serious and extremely focused at every check-in area both on 9/1 and on 9/11. Many passengers had much smaller carryon luggage than before, or only purses and briefcases. The overhead bins were not crowded at all, and many overheads on all my flights were not even full.

I carried four magazines, one book, two guide books and one Italian Menu (translation) book on all four flights with no problems. The stewardess immediately and loudly told people to sit down if they got up when the seat belt signs were on.
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Sep 12th, 2006, 03:37 PM
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We returned through Zurich en route to JFK on 8/18 and faced the same situation as bob brown. Anything gel, liquid or cream was thrown away. Prescription bottle caps were also taken. The security folks were very kind and even apologetic. They were following the directives they received from their U.S.counterparts. Someone, who appeared to be in charge of security, came over and said that a number of dump trucks had been needed to dispose of all the "stuff. Some of the businesses near the gate said that coffee shops had closed in reponse to the "liquid ban." However, the very nice crew aboard Swiss Int'l promptly handed out bottled water as soon as we were on the plane. That seemed to defeat the purpose of the "liquid ban." Interestingly, too, all passengers bound for the U.S. had to fill out a manifesto form noting a contact person in the event of an emergency. Never had to do that before!
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