Had a new one this week. Went through security in Sydney Domestic airport. No problems, I've done this many times. All my stuff in a tray, send it through the scanner, and hands in pockets, I stroll through the metal detector. No beep. No alarm. No problem, normally.

Security: Sir, your hands were in your pockets. You can't do that. Please go back through.

Me: It's...a metal detector? How do my hands in my pockets affect it?

Security: Go back through please sir.

I went back through, hands out of pockets, again no beep, and security was satisfied, although didn't explain the hands in pockets and why this was an issue? Any ideas?

  • 2
    Not really a new one. Happened to me a few times, in various countries. I'm not sure what they think you may be hiding, but there you go. They want to see your hands...
    – user67108
    Oct 22, 2017 at 4:55
  • 1
    In addition to being metal detector it probably (at times) also serves as a good point for the security officer to perform a visual inspection of you. Yes, it could be done at any point, but it's easy to declare that it's something done while passing through the metal detector, and although he could just have asked to see your hand, by sending you back with instructions to keep your hands out of the pockets, he might have hoped you learned it for the next time. Oct 22, 2017 at 6:55

2 Answers 2


The impression I have gathered is that security staff find people keeping their hands in their pockets inherently suspicious. More than once I've gone through the metal detector with no problems, and while waiting for my bag etc. to come through I've stood with my hands in my pockets and been asked what I have in there. Usually the answer is something like "A handkerchief - but I'm holding my trousers up until I get my belt back", and so far that has always been good enough for them.


TL/DR: It doesn't, but those are the rules.

The rule most everywhere I've been is you must walk through the metal detector facing forward, arms at your side. Simple physics, there's nothing you can hide with your hands in or out of your pockets.

In your case the screener was either new and fresh from training or is an old stickler for such rules. I typically half crab through a) because I've bumped the machine a few times, b) to see if they're paying attention. >9/10, they're more intent on keeping the line moving.

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