Airport metal detectors/residues

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Warks, May 11, 2006.

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  1. Warks

    Warks Established Member

    Oct 9, 2003
    2,166
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    Sydney
    Anyone know why the metal detectors in Sydney Domestic T3 always goes off when I wear a certain pair of shoes but no other detectors in other airports do? Cranked up sensitivity of course but shouldn't there be a standard?

    Do you guys dress to avoid being stopped? Tracky dacks (no belt), ugh boots (no metal in the sole), flanny shirt (just to complete the uniform). Would fit in on Virgin no doubt.

    How many times have you been tested for gunpowder residues? I don't fly that much - couple of times per month but would get checked 1 in 4 times. Darwin especially. What happens if they find something?
     

  2. Damien

    Damien Member

    Aug 29, 2005
    300
    2
    BNE
    My work shoes always go off in Sydney, but nowhere else. The guy behind the screen tried to show me where the metal was once, but got confused when he couldn't see it on the xray. :?

    I avoid wearing them now purely so I don't have take them off. It sometimes gets a bit tricky taking your carry-on, laptop, and shoes to the machine.

    A lot. The time I take to put my laptop back in the bag depends on how many people are going through. I'll slow down or speed up to try and avoid it.
     
  3. NM

    NM
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    Aug 27, 2004
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    There definitely is variation of sensitivity. Another factor with shoes is how low down the detects can find metal and that can cary between the detectors and how high you lift you feet when walking. How fast you walk through can also affect it.

    The USA detectors are generally set more sensitive than in Australia. And if you trigger it in the USA you don't get a chance to go back, remove something (belt, watch, coins, shoes etc) and try again. They direct you immediately for a thorough manual search.
    I do consider this. I have a pair of casual shoes I wear when travelling long-haul, especially where I will have multiple connections. They are comfortable and contain no metal and never trigger a detector. However, I have had TSA agents in the USA insist that I still remove them and put them through the x-ray, in which case it is pointless to anything but comply with their demand.

    I also remove my watch when walking through. It is generally ok, but I would rather take the extra 3 seconds to remove it and drop it into the box along with my keys, Pocket PC, Phone etc, than find that one detector is set to super-sensitive and I have go back and try again (or hear the snap of the rubber gloves :shock: ).
    When carrying a briefcase or laptop, probably about 20% of the time through BNE. But when just visiting the Qantas Club lounge and hence just my car keys and other pocket belongings, I have never been randomly selected for swabbing.

    I appreciate it when they use the little vacuum cleaner on the laptop keyboard - they do a better job of cleaning it than I ever do.
     
  4. JohnK

    JohnK Veteran Member

    Mar 22, 2005
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    I actually find the metal detectors in BKK and SIN a lot more sensitive than the ones in SYD. I make every effort to make sure that I put everything that might trigger the metal detector in the tray, things like phone, wallet, keys, loose change. I have probably triggered the metal detectors in BKK and SIN ~80% of the time and I don't have the types of shoes or belts that trigger them. As I don't have anything to hide it is only a minor inconvenience to be called aside and checked. Sometimes I think that they trigger it themselves randomly, or if you look suspicious like me, as it seems that every 3rd or 4th person get called aside.

    I think dressed liked that would ensure you get called aside more often. :D
     
  5. NM

    NM
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    In addition to selecting my travel shoes as metal-free, I always travel in smart casual clothes. Its just the way I like to travel, even on long flights. I will generally be wearing smart casual trousers (Dockers or similar) with a belt, a short-sleeve, light weight, button-up collared shirt with a pocket (I like to keep a pen in the pocket for completing documentation etc, as well as keeping my passport and boarding passes handy when at the airport).

    Dressing this way also allows me to feel comfortable in the lounges (rather than feeling like a slob 8) ). I have also had a QF check-in agent comment that I was appropriately dressed to be given the op-up she had planned. She certainly implied that if I had not been suitably dressed, the op-up may have gone to someone else.
     
  6. serfty

    Moderator

    Nov 16, 2004
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    I have a pair of slip on leather shoes that do not set of the detectors. That really is my only issue.

    As far as the minivac goes I am very alert and try to ensure they are occupied when I pass them, even if it means an extra funble or two putting stuff back together.

    The weirdest one I had was the old secondary xray at AKL near gate 10; I had coins, shoes, belt, sunnies, watch off and still it went off. :shock:

    Eventually they traced it to the magnetic strips on the cards in my wallet. :?
     
  7. Maca44

    Maca44 Established Member

    Sep 2, 2005
    1,254
    194
    Sydney
    After a hip replacement a few years ago I get the pleasure of secondary searches by TSA each time, but to speed things up with goods passed through x-ray I carry a small plastic bag and when getting near security I put everything from my pockets etc in that bag (inc shoes), and then put the bag into the tray for x-ray. By the time I have finished secondary screening, which only takes a coule of minutes, I can collect the bag and walk away from security area before getting myself back together again. It just saves time picking up each item individually from the tray, putting it in your respective pocket etc and having the TSA staff monitoring you further. I like to get away from that area as quick as possible.
     
  8. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
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    Same as NM - comfortable low risk clothes. Get rid of watch and wallet regardless to lower the risk of setting it off.

    And same as serfty re explosives test in Australia - IIRC there was a thread about that some time back.
     
  9. clifford

    clifford Established Member

    Jul 6, 2004
    1,761
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    Canberra / London
    I agree that SIN can be a bit silly (never had a problem at BKK).

    Was once pulled aside at SIN because the metal spring in my plastic pen had set the alarm off.

    However, just grin and ignore the whole thing, and you'll be right.

    As for the explosives testing, I once spilled a huge amount of petrol over my shoes and socks when refuelling my rental car at SYD (because the pump's auto cutoff didn't work), and shortly after had to endure the explosives testing. They couldn't care less about the petrol, but my shoes would have gone up like an inferno. Sure makes you feel safer.
     
  10. Mal

    Mal Enthusiast

    Dec 25, 2004
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    The way I handle metal detectors these days is to slip my watch/keys/wallet in my hand baggage and put it through the x-ray by itself.

    I know what machines will trigger on what i wear, so normally don't have any issues.

    As for explosives testing, I get it every now and again, but I tend to try and avoid it where possible using various tricks.

    I have had a positive reading once. Was expecting the gloves to come out, but instead they just retested my bag another 2 times. Both were clear so they let me go.
     
  11. Yada Yada

    Yada Yada Established Member

    Dec 6, 2004
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    I only get stopped for the explosives test when I'm running late. :? I'm sure they can see I am in a hurry and decide to stress me out a bit more. :x

    I've only ever set off the walk-thru detector in PER - it was my belt. But someone must have fiddled with the machine because other guys had their belts off too. There was a whole bunch of us re-dressing airside. :D

    In SIN a few weeks back they made me open my laptop bag because they couldn't identify an object on the x-ray belt. It was the Lego pen (in its box) that I had just bought at the toy store for one of my kids.
     
  12. JohnK

    JohnK Veteran Member

    Mar 22, 2005
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    I forgot to mention that the last 2 times through SIN security I tried to put my wallet in the tray with jacket and phone and was told to hold on to wallet. I protested that the wallet will trigger the detector and they said no problem you will be checked on the other side. On the other side I get scanned and then they go through the insides of the wallet.

    Not sure what they are looking for here? Have I missed something? Is this a new policy in SIN or was I singled out? Has there been some news coverage anywhere because I vaguely remember the security guard saying that you have money inside and it should not be left in the tray. Was this just an excuse? Has this happened to anyone else in SIN recently?
     
  13. Yada Yada

    Yada Yada Established Member

    Dec 6, 2004
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    I've never had any problems in SIN, aside from the lego pen causing some interest. I usually put my wallet in my computer bag, leave coins in my jeans pocket, and walk on through. Never set it off yet. :?
     
  14. robertz

    robertz Member

    Sep 15, 2005
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    Atlanta, GA, US
    In Jan 02, went through the metal detectors at Livingstone Airport in Zambia (LVI). They went off and stood there for a second and noticed no security guards around.
    Sat down and turned around, they were scanning peoples bags but didn't have anybody to check the people when the metal detectors went off.

    Was an interesting flight back to JNB to say the least. The pilot from Nationwide Airlines gave us a running commentary of what he was doing in the cockpit. eg: OK, were now going full throttle, hang on everybody, were going to take off......

    I for one thought he had a few too many at lunch.

    Rob
     
  15. Mal

    Mal Enthusiast

    Dec 25, 2004
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    Have had this happen to me in SIN. It's one of the reasons my wallet goes into my carryon before security. The last thing I need is a delay for the metal detector to be run over my wallet... Don't know why they do it, but assume it's a honesty issue. They don't want to be responsible if you lose stuff from your wallet.
     
  16. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
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    Standard practice at SIN (and yes they do seem to have sensitivity set too high most of the time). Once I had a small badge a few mm square on passport cover trigger it :roll:
     
  17. NM

    NM
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    That is what I also do when I have my brief case with me. Empty my pockets into my briefcase and send it all through the x-ray. Then re-assemble everything when I get to the lounge.
     
  18. Groundfeeder

    Groundfeeder Active Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    651
    30
    Brisbane
    The tested manner for me is to put small change, watch, biros, mobile and wallet in briecase with belt and laptop in the tray.

    Small bit of metal in my deck shoes doesn't raise the audio meter but they tell me I get to 2 or 3 lights which is getting close.

    I have been sniffed 100% at TSV and its probably cause there are no others in the queue.
     
  19. JohnK

    JohnK Veteran Member

    Mar 22, 2005
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    It would appear to be a case of promoting honesty from the part of SIN security. But is this something they chose to do or has been forced upon them because of some incident? The search does not happen all the time. On my last trip I had a flight out of SIN 3 times and was asked to hold wallet in hand twice. Funny thing though is that they do not run the metal detector over the wallet but just do a visual search. What are they looking for in the wallet?
     
  20. shillard

    shillard Guest

    Doc Marten Boots, Leather belt with a simply metal buckle, and either a suit or casual clothing.

    Gold watch with a steel wristband that doesn't set anything off. I've also found a pocketfull of change to be no obstacle when passing through a metal detector.


    I've been queried once after a residue test - flashing the A,B,C,H firearms licence did the trick.
     
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