Scenarios when my cabin bag went for secondary inspection at airport security!

Airport security is a serious business. Staff there need to ensure no potentially dangerous items get past so that no aircraft can be put to danger later. But for that 0.000000001% of possible risk, all 100% of the passengers need to be screened thoroughly. Lots of generic rules and many airport specific guidelines (minor variations) are in place to dictate what's allowed and what's not. Any item not deemed satisfactory in primary screening is usually flagged for secondary inspection.
In this post I am listing some of the scenarios where my cabin bag was diverted to secondary inspection at various airports around the world. Idea of this post is to help you prepare your stuff properly on the tray before sending your bags for screening and save some precious time otherwise has to be sent on secondary screening.

1. Canada- Food items
In Canadian airports, it helps if you take out food items in your bag and keep them separately. They are particular about various food items-organic or otherwise. I had an unused rice packet I had bought at Walmart- They took it out and inspected to ensure nothing is hidden in it.

So in Canadian airports, if you have some food items separate it out. Keep receipts or additional documents handy.

2. London Gatwick- Toilet items
London Gatwick airport had a display asking people to take out their liquids and toilet items and put it in a plastic bag. I saw this display but I didn't have anything other than a toothpaste so didn't take it seriously. Obviously my bag went to secondary, toothpaste was taken out, screened one more time before letting me through. (Got it back)

3. Doha- Laptop not to be covered
At Doha airport, my bag went to secondary, apparently because my jacket was covering the laptop. So they scanned laptop alone one more time, just to be sure everything is fine.

4. Nepal and Chennai- Metal Case with simcards
I have a small metal case that houses a few sim cards and the pin used to pop open sim card tray of mobiles- This sometimes draws attention of officials who prefer to open it and see its content before clearing it.

5. Chennai-Laptop charger
Usually we are required to take out only big items like Laptops. Chargers and other small items stay inside the bag. But a few times Chennai airport security have asked me to take out all electronics (GoPro camera, mobile and laptop chargers, Fitness band etc) and get them scanned again.  Happened only a few times- too much work to take everything out unnecessarily and voluntarily, so I take them out if asked.

6. Empty water bottles
Empty water bottle, if kept inside the bag might confuse officials who might prefer to check if it is really empty. Helps if it is kept separately or in side pouch easy to inspect.

7. Blade and sharp objects
Several years ago I lost a nice Swiss knife set to Goa Airport. This one is no brainer and I should have been careful. Keys that look sharp, key chains that are unusual also can get flagged at times.

Airports abroad usually have the mechanism to scan the tray and find out why exactly it is pushed to secondary, so that officers can quickly pin point the reason and resolve the issue. In India it is largely manual interaction between the staff who scans it and staff who does secondary checks.

There will be minor variations from airport to airport on exact expectations. While taking out laptop is standard practice through out the world, formality for other things like Shoes, liquids, food etc might vary from airport to airport a bit. Do read the display signs and prepare yourself accordingly. This will save some precious time- both yours and that of security staff. Secondary inspection often also results in an ion scan (to check for any drugs) as a standard procedure- not that something you should be worried about as a legitimate traveler.

Do share your experiences at airport security. What are the various observations you have made.

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