The fact that you were allowed to keep your scissors in NZ doesn’t really mean anything, I bet plenty of people get to keep their scissors in Dubai too. You were just unlucky to meet the wrong security guy.
And yes, the airport staff can essentially confiscate any item they consider dangerous, unless it’s valuable enough to argue about or you really need it on the flight, and it’s not forbidden outright. I once had to give away a PP3 battery (for a portable FM radio). Apparently the security lady didn’t see any batteries other than AA, so she was alarmed by this unknown object.
Considering that lists of the forbidden items can’t be made exhaustive and accurate risk estimation is a difficult task, security agents are given a lot of freedom in their decisions, which don’t even have to make sense:
The confiscation was within the rules (as security staff anywhere have immense flexibility, which they can exercise when they perceive a possible need). This is what you’d hope and expect for people required to make potential life and death decisions on the spot.
The confiscation was sensible – you would not expect it with certainty, but should in no way be surprised when it happens.
What is the working blade length of a “box cutter” when used as a hijack weapon?
How well could a group of men each armed with scissors like these use them as hijack weapons?
After you’ve stopped snorting over the stupidity of that question, consider how most people would have answered a similar “boxcutter” question up until about the end of August 2001.
If you REALLY do not wish to lose such items check-in is a much safer choice.
I carried an unused ink-jet cartridge filling device Auckland-Brunei, Brunei-Hong Kong, Hong Kong – China, China internal flight Guangzho to Guilin. I ATTEMPTED to carry it on the return flight Guilin-Guanzho. The security officer sought to confiscate it, along with a short bladed “Swiss Army Knife” that I had stupidly failed to pack in check-in luggage. I accepted the loss of the Knife (about as offensive as your scissors) as being my fault.
I argued that the ink jet cartridge refiller with 3 x maybe 10mm small diameter needles inside a shell was utterly harmless.
He stood firm.
I called him a fascist moron.
He stood firm, and was not moved by my apposite but immensely unwise abuse (the ONLY time I have ever spoken heatedly at security men, let alone called them names).
I wonder what they did with the refiller :-)?
If you can lose a device with 3 x 10mm sheathed needles then your vicious stabbing weapon is an obvious candidate!
Think yourself fortunate that they let you retain the dangerous set of 5 metal piercing implements also shown in your photo!
A fair bit of the above was written, as you may have noted, somewhat ‘tongue in cheek’.
Only somewhat. Security does what security does. Your job is to outthink them in advance, as complaining afterwards has no positive effect whatsoever.
TSA rules are only for the USA. DXB will have an entirely different screening authority and it will ultimately be at their discretion.
It will always vary slightly port to port, within Australia different ports normally have different private security contractors so it will be up to the company that holds the contract for that port or screening lane.
Typical rules that will apply throughout airports are 6cm and over, sharp blade or pointed end. Any of the listed may prevent travel with Carry on.
If in doubt check the item in with your luggage to prevent it being confiscated or make contact with the port prior and ask.
I have found it helpful, if I know I have a questionable item, to print out the rules for TSA/the country involved/the airport I’m flying from in advance. Then when my “insert obviously harmless object here” is questioned, I can pull them out and act puzzled and say ‘but officer, I wondered myself and I specifically looked it up in advance and it says here…’. That may let you through, or it may let you in for a 3-hour minute search and a missed flight, depending on the mood of the security person.
You are totally at the mercy of the security person though. The ones in San Francisco used to have an average level of education barely reaching the 8th grade. They are operating x-ray machines whose results usually require several years of residency beyond your MD to interpret, in other contexts. You can only expect so much. But this is definitely a profession that attracts control freaks, and where the only jollies you can expect is to inconvenience people who are not obsequious enough.
I once had a security inspector try to confiscate my jar of foie gras, on the basis that I could hit the pilot over the head with it, making up on the spot a rule about objects having to be less than 100g weight (which would have eliminated anyone’s suitcase and almost its entire contents, including underwear I think). Come to think of it, you could strangle the pilot with your underwear. Sigh..
(Not so much worried about the scissors but the ability to have confidence in knowing what can be taken in carry-on bag; you read and follow the rules and then get ripped off at the officers’ discretion anyway).
Unfortunately this is a basic fact of flying these days. While there are rules and regulations, security officers have wide leeway and discretion. There is almost no accountability or recourse, other than in extreme abuse cases.
At the end of the day if the officer finds something they don’t like, your only viable option is to say “yes officer”, “I’m sorry officer” “won’t happen again officer” regardless of whether the officer is right or wrong. You can choose to argue, but chances are it’s not going to help AND you will miss your flight.
I have just received a response from the airport which pretty much answers the question:
Please note that there are many restrictions on items that can be
carried in hand baggage which vary according to the countries of
travel. Further to this, a Security officer on duty may confiscate any
item, if deemed dangerous, irrespective of any standard rule.
Regrettably, confiscated items are non -recoverable, therefore we
advise you to contact police department directly on the following if
further clarifications are required on the matter.
[Dubai police contacts]
Essentially, if the officer deems an item to be dangerous, he/she will confiscate it no matter what. Police and/or a court proceeding are the only remedies. Looks like a good reason to think twice before booking a flight via Dubai next time.
Individual countries have their own rules, and while some items are unambiguously permitted or forbidden everywhere, quite a few are in a greyish area which varies from country to country (and then there are the items which are in the very grey area where no-one is really sure and it will depend on who you stumble upon).
In the case of Dubai, TSA rules obviously do not apply (those are for US airports only), and you can find their forbidden items list here:
As you can see, according to their rules, scissors are forbidden as soon as blades are “longer than 6 cm”. They do not specify where this is measured from, nor whether this is inclusive or not, but as you have stated the blades are 6 cm long, I fear they fall in the forbidden category.
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