March 11, 2009

Offbeat

Batty regulations

Martin Williamson

The European Court has ruled that a tennis racquet is not a terrorist threat, despite an airline deciding it was and throwing a passenger off a flight for the temerity of bringing one on board.

It emerged that while the EU had a list of banned hand luggage, it was actually secret for “security reasons”. The court's decision was based on that fact … how could anyone know what was allowed if the airlines and airport operators wouldn’t tell them?

The most that anyone could gather was that "any blunt instrument capable of causing injury" was prohibited. So what about cricket bats? Easyjet have ruled that they must be carried in the hold (as with fishing rods and snooker cues) while British Airways allows “bats, wickets, pads and balls” but, again, in the hold only. It’s the same in the USA, although, bizarrely, metal scissors with pointed tips under four inches in length are not deemed unsuitable to carry on.

In short, if you are travelling, out the cricket bat inside luggage in the hold (if it’s outside the luggage it may count as a separate item and attract a surcharge.

The absurdity of the anomalies was best brought home by the man allowed to bring a mini chainsaw onto a domestic flight in New Zealand because it was not on a list of banned items. Only when petrol from it began leaking from an overhead locker over passengers was it removed.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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