Friday, January 06, 2012

What’s wrong with my umbrella?

Another reader sent me email just recently asking why her umbrella was ‘confiscated’ at the airport. I received similar messages in the past and we better get this out to everyone for clarity.
While you may think those concerns are petty (yes, they usually are since some umbrellas can be bought at just 11 pesos), some of the concerns are not really about umbrellas but the integrity (if any) of airport personnel. Here we go…

The recent email sender says the officer at the second x-ray (airport people call it “security check area”) asked her to remove the ‘folding umbrella’ from her laptop-case and kept it telling her it was not allowed. Our passenger further says she was surprised it was taken just like that, but did not anymore bother since this was a military man she was in front of and the umbrella costs only about P150.

Was that correct information and proper handling of a passenger?

Whatever your view is, I say, a little bit yes as to the information but a very big NO as to the handling!

How dare that officer get anything from a passenger! What makes me so irritated about this case is that the passenger is/was a foreigner who has been in the Philippines for a time now, living on a desolate island that teems with nothing but abject poverty as a medical volunteer and part-time teacher. Need I emphasize that it is a shame enough our compatriots are being cared for and being educated by foreigners? We are an independent, self-sufficient country, right?! Really now?! Then we ‘grab’ umbrellas from these volunteers?

Anyway, let’s first talk about umbrellas and airplanes before we return to the above incident.

Ever since the advent of airline travel (1940s?), umbrellas have been “not allowed” as cabin baggage. These were not the folding type then. You can go dig your old tickets and read the back portion. It is written there – some with illustrations. But take note that the reason for said rule is not really because the thing or parts of it can be used as weapon. It being a pointed object, could cause harm especially during turbulent flights or emergencies. Remember the safety instructions saying ‘remove sharp or pointed objects such as ballpoint pens and high-heels before you jump unto the emergency slide? Its on that line of reasoning. If an umbrella is part of a hand carried item, it could still poke and break from its container (bags, etc) and accidentally harm passengers.

The said rule goes the same for walking sticks, canes, golf clubs and crutches. You'll never know when those things could hurt you or other passengers near you before, during and even after the flight. Especially nowadays where terrorists are also getting technologically advanced and parts of an innocent-looking foldable umbrella can indeed be used as weapon. Hmm, did you know there are even umbrellas that are actually weapons? Yes, there are.

And to answer the other email senders on this topic, trust me, its not just an airline in this country, its an industry rule worldwide c/o the International Air Transport Association or IATA. In fact, with all due respect, to those foreigners who sent me similar messages, if ever you had been toting umbrellas back in your home countries and were allowed to carry them on board, those were security and airline folks being lax (therefore erring in terms of air industry standards), so please don't condition your minds that as if that's the norm. I can enumerate cities and countries in the world where airline or airport personnel had been negligent on this little security requirement either because of ignorance or being lazy or both. I may hate my country’s airport personnel at times, like now, but please don’t brag with “back in my country, I can bla bla bla with my ya ya ya. The rule is umbrellas are not allowed as hand carried items or inside hand carried items – all over the globe.

Now back to the umbrella story of our dear letter sender above.

Yes it is not allowed per se, but there is a procedure to follow. To wit: security personnel shall endorse the passenger and the item to airline personnel who must receive and tag the item to the passenger’s destination and give passenger the corresponding claim stub for said item. It is the very same process followed with passengers carrying guns and/or ammunition, arnis sticks, golf clubs, swords, billiard cue-sticks, toys, and other long or pointed objects bought from the duty free shops. That includes even baby strollers!

In fact, passenger is supposed to be told by airline or security personnel that he/she has the option to go back and leave the item with friends / relatives or check the thing in back at the check-in counter. Of course it is now the discretion of the airline if the item falls into the category of excess baggage and if they’ll have the heart to not anymore charge you. In most cases (in this country, at least), such confiscations at the boarding gate are not anymore charged even if they should. But just the same these are tagged accordingly and passengers are given the claim stub. You might be interested to know that these items even have a special space or compartment for safekeeping inside the airplane – I choose not to mention where hehe.

In summary,

The security officer was probably just lazy to accompany passenger to the gate for the proper procedure. And how lucky of him, he even got a free umbrella for his wife and children to use! OR he really was there to do some "umbrella shopping" for his family that day as the rainy days are still around. Tangina nya, humangin sana ng malakas at kung sino man gumagamit ng payong na yan matusok sana sa mata nung mga alambre ng payong! Ang kapal!

6 comments :

Anonymous said...

You are incorrect.

According to TSA...

Umbrellas (allowed in carry-on baggage once they have been inspected to ensure that prohibited items are not concealed) Yes Yes
Walking Canes (allowed in carry-on baggage once they have been inspected to ensure that prohibited items are not concealed)

dorothy agustin said...

I think they need to be specific for the umbrella not to become a hand carry. Because there are a lot of umbrellas that lead to become part of one destruction. I am sorry, but there are many security that not aware of what they're looking for?! -Dorothy of custom essay

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Anonymous said...

The blog is about the PHILIPPINES so what the TSA (in the USA) says about it is irrelevant.

Anna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anna said...

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