The most ridiculous ‘liquids’ confiscated by airport security – from pork pies to snowglobes
Last week, Telegraph Travel reported that Teesside had become the first airport in the UK to scrap its 100ml liquid allowances for passengers.
Many Telegraph readers celebrated the scrapping of the stringent liquid limits, a rule which has been in place since a foiled terror plot in 2006. Some pointed out that this could spell the end of pharmacies selling overpriced miniature sun creams and deodorants, while a number of readers voiced suspicions that security staff might have ulterior motives in confiscating certain items. A half-full bottle of Chanel No.5, for example, or an unopened jar of duck pâté.
But what was most striking in the discussion that ensued was the sheer peculiarity of the items that Telegraph readers have had confiscated over the years. From blatant solids (nougat, christmas pudding) to innocent items (a snowglobe, teddy bears), these are some of the strangest items you have lost at the hands of officious airport security staff.
There are fine margins between liquids, pastes, waxes and gums. But what about pork pies, marzipan or brie? Even our team of well-travelled journalists were shocked to hear that some of the below were deemed too viscous to pass through security.
Em Bo: “In Vienna, flying to Berlin, they wanted to confiscate my Christmas pudding because, they told me, a ‘pudding’ is a ‘liquid’.”
Charlotte Keywood: “Branston Pickle. The overzealous security chap at Gatwick insisted it was a liquid. To this day I have never understood how solid chunks of veg suddenly become liquid when they go through an airport scanner.”
TJ Ga: “I have had five bars of nougat taken from me at Toulouse Airport because it was deemed to be too soft. No measurement standard was available and they could not define ‘too soft’ except in their opinion. I hoped they enjoyed my Grandchildren's treat.”
Robert Groves: “I once had two 105ml tins of fine quality duck pâté confiscated at a French airport. The airport staff just fancied a nice lunch.”
Arabella Childs: “I had a 125ml jar of raspberry jam taken from me flying from Berlin to Stockholm. I was annoyed. I wanted to say: ‘And how do you think I am going to take down an entire airplane with a tiny jar of raspberry jam?’”
Diana Lees: “My daughter brought a small jar of Marmite from Stansted to Barcelona with no difficulty once. On the following occasion, she was relieved of her Marmite with the excuse that it had once been liquid. Considering that at that time it was permitted to bring cheese back, which, after all, had once been liquid, she thought the rules seemed rather arbitrary.”
Charlotte Quirk: “Taking a pork pie to my brother-in-law in Mallorca – discarded at security and same with a jar of home made lemon curd. Since when were either of these items liquid!”
Paddington Abroad: “My friend was stopped at a French airport and had her marzipan (apparently it's a paste) taken. She burst into tears and said it was for a wedding cake. Then she said, look, I'll eat some of it if you like, so you know it's safe, which she subsequently did. The airport security people didn't realise that Semtex looks, smells and tastes just like marzipan!”
S McGough: “Porto took my quince jelly.”
Peter Higgs: “Flying back from Toulouse and had Brie confiscated at the airport. Apparently it’s a liquid. If they can’t tell the difference, I question if such people are fit to be their security personnel.”
Peter Walter: “I had a tin of baked beans confiscated because the security person and her colleagues deemed that there was MORE than 100ml of liquid! To which my reply was that she was buying the wrong beans.”
Paul Anderson: “I was bringing a tin of King Oscar sardines back from Norway as a Christmas present for our cat, but the customs girl confiscated it as there was 103ml in the tin. I asked her if I could open it and pour some of the liquid out but she wasn't impressed. It was a bleak Christmas for Patches.”
Karen Recupero: “I bought a miniature snow globe in Vienna at Christmas. No problems with security there. Security at Heathrow binned it with a smile. Some people really enjoy their jobs.”
Philip Roberts: “My son had St. Paulin confiscated at Charles de Gaulle. We reckon they just fancied it.”
It is not only liquids that have been detained by security staff over the years, of course. Many Telegraph readers mentioned tweezers and scissors, although there were some less likely items that were deemed a threat.
Tim Glass: “My father, a captain on BA, had his pipe tobacco tamper removed as 'it could be used as a weapon'. Even when he pointed out that he had a large axe in the cockpit (all planes do), and that if he wanted to bring the plane down he'd just push the stick right down!”
Andy Jones: “The best one for me was Luton security confiscating a safety razor, yet on the return flight at Geneva you could buy Swiss Army Knives in duty free after security. I also had a mini bicycle-folding tool kit stolen. I asked, ‘what do you think I can do with this, unscrew one of the wings?’ It went in the bin but we all know it will have been retrieved later.”
Marie Samuels: “We flew from Manchester that very morning in 2006 when the terror risk was raised. They confiscated my two-year-old’s teddy bear, he was distraught! Yet they let me take on two bottles of baby milk, bizarre! I always wondered what became of Mr Brown…?”
Colin Sc: “I once had a pebble that my daughter had collected from the beach and hand painted taken off me by over-zealous airport security. It was about a third the size of a fist and she had written ‘love you daddy’ on the bottom. I had flown over to see her as she didn't live with me and it was a parting gift. You can imagine I was furious. I remember picking up my rather solid charger by the cable (this was 15 years ago) from the tray and swinging around my head to demonstrate to the jobsworth that this was far more dangerous than any stone. They weren't interested. The charger was allowed, but not the pebble.”
A happy outcome
Thankfully, not all of your experiences at airport security have been negative over the past 17 years since the 100ml liquid limit came into force.
Gillian Burbidge: “Husband forgot to stow away his deodorant at Melbourne, returning to Heathrow. It caused some humour when the apologetic, sympathetic security woman offered to spray as he held his arms up in the air!”
Zoe Taylor: “I once bought an expensive jar of Caudalie body salt scrub which was taken off me, but a lovely French security lady understood and posted it home to me! Was soon after the restrictions were introduced and we still had post offices – it wouldn’t happen now.”
Bri Seage: “Returning from Germany I had bought two containers of local honey. The customs woman insisted they were liquid and so could not go on board. There was a rubbish bin beside her and so I pulled the tops off the honey, poured it into the plastic-bag lined bin along with the empty container. The look of disappointment as a perk of the job disappeared was a picture and almost worth the cost of the honey.”