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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bomb joke backfires

Another day, another report that someone making a joke at an airport gets into trouble. This time it was an Australian visiting Hamilton airport (source NZ Herald), who was arresting for joking about a bomb in his temporarily unattended bag and who also lost a Swiss army knife in the process.

I can't help thinking there must be more to the story.

With so few jet flights, Hamilton does not have a lot of airport security (in NZ passengers flying prop aircraft do not need to clear security). Indeed on this particular day only the 6am departure to Sydney warranted screening.

Airport security staff in NZ, whilst being professional, generally have a great sense of humour.

The article refers to the man arriving from Sydney and the alarm being raised just before 8am. The Sydney flight arrives at 12:20am. While it is possible to remain in the terminal until morning, it is neither comfortable (see my sleeping in Hamilton airport post from 18 months ago) nor commonplace - when an airport shuts down most people do not want to be "locked in".

The airport would have been noisy by about 4am at the latest and transport options into town would have been available for some hours by 8am. The airport doesn't have much facilities - a cafe, newsagent and toilets. So there was no apparent need to be hanging around for an extended period.

Why was the Swiss army knife confiscated? Since the man was landside there shouldn't have been any issue in having one in his bag. Did the security staff think it would be used against them?

In summary, while on the surface this seems like just another bomb joke incident, there are aspects which do not add up.


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