Did you know that the Civil Aviation Authority forbids hiking/walking poles to be taken through security at UK airports? No, nor did I until recently! I mention it now in case you caught in the way that I nearly was.
Nearly 3 years since I last boarded an aircraft, I suddenly had 3 return trips in a month recently, 2 of them for work. In the time since I last travelled by air, not only have I got out of the habit of flying but I’ve started carrying a collapsible hiking pole around with me, stuck into a rucksack, ready to be taken out, extended and used when I start to get tired and a bit unsteady.
I’d already carried it on two return trips and, after a 40 minute queue to get to the x-ray machine at Glasgow Airport, I got to the other side of the machine and found that my rucksack had been taken to the side; the security staffer wanted a word.
“You’ll have to go to check-in and check that in as part of hold luggage,” she said, pointing to my hiking pole. “Why?” I asked. “It’s a CAA rule that they’re not allowed in hand luggage,” she replied.
What the hell?! With another 40 minutes to get through security again plus who knows how long at check-in, I’d miss my flight. Of course, I made a (polite, restrained, while showing my MS Society “I need help” card) fuss. “I don’t need this all the time but I do need it when I get tired, like now after standing for 40 minutes”. The young security person – I guess just doing her job – called over her manager who seemed unperturbed by the news that I’d been through the same airport with the same pole twice in the preceding few weeks. The manager did let me through with it but advised that, next time, I use it while walking through security rather than having it in my rucksack.
I failed to find the rule on the CAA’s website, incidentally.