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I was traveling quite often by airplane within Europe carrying a larger metal object in my hand luggage, a piece of a slackline set to be more precise (approx. 1 kg, 20 cm in length).

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I had no trouble at all for about 10 to 15 flights in the past year though it was always checked separately. On two recent flights I was once told I could not carry it at all (Germany) (though the policeman was so nice to let it pass "one last time") and once that I should rather put it in the main luggage (Spain), which I usually don't possess as it costs extra on some budget airlines.

I'm wondering if there are exact regulations regarding metal objects in hand luggage (size, weight, shape), especially for European countries, or if it is essentially is up to the security personnel or police to define it as a potential weapon and forbid it. What can I do to "convince" them that it is sport equipment rather than a dangerous metal piece?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The rules regarding carry-on or hand luggage are clear enough when it comes to items that are obviously dangerous, like knives, guns, explosives or other obviously dangerous items. The problem is Civil Aviation Authorities and airlines can not make a list of all possible dangerous items because there are new items almost everyday.

To overcome this dilemma, Civil Aviation Authorities and airlines try to add as much as possible items to the list of prohibited items on-board and then try to add general guidelines to identify other items if they were dangerous or not. This way things depend on the interpretation of the security personnel.

To make a good example of this, check this list of the prohibited items in cabin luggage in EU:

c. objects with a sharp point or sharp edge (objects with a sharp point or sharp edge capable of being used to cause serious injury)
d. workmen’s tools (tools capable of being used either to cause serious injury or to threaten the safety of aircraft)

If you check the list of the items included under each of the points above, you will not find the slackline set listed there, but according to the definitions above, some security personnel might interpret these definitions to consider the slackline set as a dangerous item because it has sharp edges and it a workmen tool that could be used to cause injury. Some other might not see it that way.

Bottom line, both security personnel (the one who allow it and the one who didn't) are correct, because things are left for personal interpretation. The best thing you can do is to describe to them that this is not a dangerous tool and it is used for so and so. I bet the one who didn't allow it didn't know what was this tool for, if he knew what is it for this could help a lot.

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Thank you. You are right, security personnel aware of its function usually have less suspicion. –  Stockfisch Aug 31 '13 at 12:05
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I think this is going to vary a lot depending on where you're flying to/from, on which airline, and how recent the latest scare was or new rules were put in place.

For instance I always used to travel with in-line skates and I always brought them on as one of my items of hand luggage because their weight might push my checked luggage over the limit or require a second checked bag thus incurring an extra fee.

But then at some point after 9/11 and all the hullabaloo and new rules I was prevented from bringing my skates on as hand luggage.

The reason? My skates had metal frames and if I removed all the wheels somebody managed to imagine up some way I might be able to use them as a weapon!

inline skate with metal frame
Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the image. Not the same as my skates but just as deadly

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