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sealed hand luggage box

Carry sharp items in your hand luggage.
  (+10, -4)
(+10, -4)
  [vote for,

Problem: Airlines want passengers to be unable to access sharp items like nail files and knives.
But passengers, in particular frequent flyers, try to not check any luggage because they run the risk of it getting mis-routed or lost, and because they will be penalized with delays at departure and arrival if they check anything at all.

Personally, I'd prefer to eliminate half of the problem; either
- revert to the previous level of safety and have the flight crew separated or trained in self-defense; or
- improve luggage handling to the point of painless reliability.
This doesn't seem to be happening any time soon.

Workaround: give out small, sealable boxes that don't themselves qualify as weapons in the eyes of the FAA. The airline - not the owner - can lock and unlock the box outside the security area in airports. It is legal to carry sharp things if they are sealed in the box.

Outside of the security area, passengers obtain a box and repack sharp things from their hand luggage into the box. Upon entry to the security area, the box is sealed. While in the security area or the airplane, passengers cannot access the sharp items, but can be sure that they are with them. Upon arrival, the passenger unpacks the sealed box, and leaves it with the airline for reuse.

This system could be implemented in parallel to the existing security measures.

- I don't know if it is actually possible to make containers that can be sealed and unsealed easily (automatically?), but cannot be opened by a determined hijacker.
- People will forget to unseal their locked boxes upon arrival.

Rods Tiger - you're assuming that the sealed items are exempt from the normal attention paid to a person's hand luggage; I don't propose that.
StarChaser - I'm not trying to lock away all your hand luggage; I'm proposing a small container for the few sharp items people tend to carry.
You're right that almost anything can be used as a weapon; I've reworded the text to make clear that I mean weapons in the sense of airplane regulations.

[I'm deleting annotations that stray off-topic by assuming there is checked luggage, or that discuss alternative weaponry, or the ethics of not checking any luggage.]

jutta, Nov 22 2001


       I put things in my carryon that I want to use while on the plane. Bottles of water, a number of books, painkillers <I am tall enough that airplane seats (even the exit row) cramp me, and have a bad knee due to being hit by a car some years ago.> notepad, etc. Locking them away from me removes the entire point of carrying a bag onto the airplane. I put a change of clothes and some other small things into the bag as well just in case, but that's not the major purpose of it for me.   

       There's no way to make something such that it can't be used as a weapon...if it's soft enough to not hurt someone it can cover the nose and mouth and cause them to suffocate. If it has corners, they can cause damage; if it does not have corners, the weight can still do damage, and it won't fit the overhead compartments well.
StarChaser, Nov 22 2001

       I'm afraid I have to agree.   

       Perhaps the airlines could partition an area of the passenger cabin, provide it with its own entrance and allow passengers with nail clippers, pens, Leathermans, etc have that space to themselves. Maybe have them sign a waiver noting they understand that their fellow passengers are 'armed'.
phoenix, Nov 23 2001

       As [jutta] starts by saying, some practical way of making ckecked-in luggage transportation more transparent would be better, so you can have more faith in where it's going and people could check more stuff in. Maybe if your luggage was loaded under a transparent floor underneath your seat, or you were issued with a little receiver and your luggage tagged with a transmitter.   

       However, looking at simple solutions, the biggest incentive to check in, and that would be very simple to implement, would be a no-quibble guarantee with large compensation payments for any lost luggage.
pottedstu, Nov 23 2001

       It's just impossible to remove all objects which could conceivably be used as weapons (fingernails, spectacle frames, tie pins). Could the box be arranged so that it remains sealed while airborne but unseals when air pressure returns to normal?
angel, Nov 23 2001

       Good idea. Let's avoid (delete?) the usual discussion spirals, though.   

       In theory, this could be used in any circumstance where you're normally not allowed to bring certain goods. For example, stores which sell small valuables often make you check bags or backpacks at the door; instead, they could let you keep your bag, but seal it somehow. (Not a great example, since it's just as convenient in that case to check the bag at the door anyway.)   

       The lockboxes should have anti-theft tags on them, so that when absent-minded passengers leave the secured area a beeping alarm reminds them to take out the lockbox and get it unsealed.
egnor, Nov 25 2001

       You must not have read the whole idea, then. All items go through the same security as anything else. The boxes are so you can store nail clippers, pocket knives, maybe even keyrings deemed inappropriate as carry-on. You don't just walk in with a sealed box which never passes security, otherwise you'd have some major problems.

Terrorist: "Hello. I am a terrorist. I wish to bring this highly explosive bomb on board."
Security Attendant: "Okay sir, but you'll first need to store it in this container."
AfroAssault, Nov 25 2001

       And I think you're missing the point [AfroAssault]. If the items are locked up anyway, why not just check them? What's the advantage of carrying them if you can't get to them?   

       I tried to make this point in another annotation which appears to have been deleted. My proposed solution is above.
phoenix, Nov 25 2001

       That's the same point I've been trying to make.
StarChaser, Nov 25 2001

       As explained in the idea's second sentence, I'm targeting passengers that are trying to check no luggage. I think discussions of whether or not they should check luggage are off-topic for this idea. That's why I deleted your annotations.
jutta, Nov 25 2001

       Bad luggage handling makes people want to carry their luggage on board. Security restrictions make it hard to carry certain items on board. So, there's a conflict.   

       Three possible resolutions have been identified:   

       1. Make it possible for people to carry "dangerous" items on board by ensuring they can't be accessed in-flight.   

       2. Allow people to carry "dangerous" items on board, despite the possible security risk.   

       3. Improve baggage handling.   

       All are valid solutions to the problem. All have costs, benefits, and limitations, which we could discuss indefinitely. All may be worth exploring independently. Because you would like one to happen doesn't mean people shouldn't at least discuss the feasibility of the others.   

       This idea is about #1 and specifically disclaims #2 and #3.   

       This really isn't very complex.   

       Meta: Perhaps a useful pattern would be for the idea's author to maintain a "FAQ" at the end of the idea or (preferably, I think) as the first annotation. This FAQ would *specifically* address recurring questions (which are then deleted). Of course, nothing will help people who respond without reading, but at least it will make them look more obviously silly.
egnor, Nov 25 2001

       I read the original idea, but I tend to not pay attention to changes to it, as they're discussed in the annotations.   

       I find having annotations deleted extremely irritating.   

       Jutta, I read your second sentence as people don't want to check ALL their luggage, not 'people don't want to check ANY luggage'. Aside from short trips where you can jam a pair of jeans and a handful of shirts into a carryon, I don't know anyone who does this.   

       It seems that this would be as easily avoided as by checking sharp stuff with the attendants when you get on, rather than the expense of the boxes and their various security systems.
StarChaser, Nov 25 2001

       //If the items are locked up anyway, why not just check them? What's the advantage of carrying them if you can't get to them?//

Because luggage can get lost when you check it. Because people like to know where their luggage is. Because, if you've ever heard, "Oops, uhh, we lost your luggage sir. Sorry," you know that losing an entire bag of belongings due to incompetence is extremely frustrating.

//It seems that this would be as easily avoided as by checking sharp stuff with the attendants when you get on, rather than the expense of the boxes and their various security systems.//

So you'd feel safer knowing that the attendant is loaded with pocket knives?

This idea isn't to bypass security or allow people to transport bombs and guns and dead babies holding bombs and guns, but to - basically - allow you a "locker" on the plane for items that aren't allowed but aren't necessarily AR-15s and Stinger Missiles, such as a simple pocket knife or some kind of souvenir you buy for your son/daughter that is just a little too sharp for carry-on.
AfroAssault, Nov 25 2001

       // I don't know anyone who does this. //   

       Now you do: me. And I'm hardly alone. "Short trips where you can jam a pair of jeans and a handful of shirts into a carryon" fits the majority of business trips, and it's quite possible to fit 2-3 days of stuff in a carryon if you pack carefully.
egnor, Nov 25 2001

       my god! really? Including cosmetics, haircare appliances, enough footwear for day and evening situations, and the requisite matching handbags?
Oh, I'm kidding. I've been known to pack for three-day trips taking only a carry-on size, and you're right, it's not difficult, it just takes a bit of planning. If the main problem is the potential of having something locked in this box that is itself dangerous, and making the box bombproof is not an option (or not even possible) then the answer must be to find an insubvertible way of swiftly and non-invasively checking the contents of every cubic inch of luggage. Hm.
lewisgirl, Nov 26 2001

       what about sharp teeth or long nails?
technobadger, Nov 26 2001

       Egnor: I didn't say 'nobody does this', I said 'nobody I know does this'. Difference.   

       Afro: I meant 'a locker', not that the attendants should be hauling them around in their pocketses... Yes, although it's never happened to me <knock on simulated woodgrain> I can imagine that losing a bag is annoying...which is why I said 'check them with the attendants'.   

       It's impossible to make it perfectly safe. As Afro says, teeth, nails, martial arts. Can't take them away from people. Keeping people from bringing hunting knives or things like that is one thing, but a perfectly harmless nail file is just overreaction.
StarChaser, Nov 26 2001

       I apologize if I misunderstood the original reasoning behind your idea. Having been corrected, I agree that this would be a handy service.   

       I would rather see the items in question collected at the normal security point, bagged, the bags encased and the case stored somewhere other than the passenger cabin. People could collect their items when they leave the gate area.
phoenix, Nov 28 2001

       What about locking overhead compartments? They might lock as soon as the door closes on the aeroplane, and unlock when the door opens at the destination.
mighty_cheese, Nov 28 2001

       This idea could work but it would probably not be as convenient as regular hand luggage. The security measures need to ensure safety would make the small sealable boxes work at all would add a lot of complexity. At least one person would probably make a valid request for access to their sealed box during a long flight, prehaps to gain access to a vital drug that has been packed in it by mistake.   

       However the sealed box would probably need to be packed by the airport security person, be transparent so everyone can see the contents and somehow coordinated with how people are loaded onto the plane. Someone could not left with alone their sealed box before they boarded the plane in case they are tampered with in someway.
Aristotle, Nov 28 2001

       Ok, so here's how I picture this idea working.   

       I arrive at the airport with my carry-on. It is searched by security, and all "weapons" are placed in a small box which is sealed with a tamper evident sticker. I board the plane, and the steward/ess checks the sticker to be sure I didn't try to remove my oh-so-dangerous nail scissors from the box. Once the security of my dangerous goods is confirmed, the box is stored in a large chest of drawers looking thing at the front of the plane, near the door. Once everyone is aboard, the cabinet with all the boxes (labelled and positioned according to the seats) is locked. When the plane lands, the steward/ess unlocks the cabinet, and as I walk by to get off the plane, I grab my sealed box and leave. Then I rip it open, remove the contents, and deposit the box in a bin where it is reused.   

       Am I grasping the concept?
mighty_cheese, Nov 28 2001

       What a coincidence. I just flew home this morning from LAX to MCO. Towards the end of the flight, I got up and went to the lavatory, bringing a toiletries bag I had carried on board. When I opened the bag, I found my 3.75"-bladed folding knife inside (my wife had put it in there, intending to place it in checked luggage). Then later, after arriving at home, I found my Leatherman Micra in another pocket of my carry-on luggage.   

       I told my colleagues about this incident, and one of the ladies I work with said, "Oh, my gosh! You could have, like, slashed everybody and cut the pilot's throat!"   

       Uh, yeah. Right. I thought about it, but after 4.5 hours standing in the back of the airplane, alternately holding a screaming toddler and a bad-tempered baby, I just didn't have the energy to rampage.
Guncrazy, Nov 28 2001

       Croissant. I wish this had been an option three weeks ago when I lost a very nice Zwilling nail care kit to a Paris security guard who assured me it would be checked and available in Edinburgh when I stepped off the plane. Incidentally, I have just returned from a trip of no less than seven days' duration, with only a single carryon bag. I never check bags if I can avoid it.
beauxeault, Nov 28 2001

       [Guncrazy (luckily not "KnifeCrazy")] - so what you're saying is that security checks are irrelevant, but every passenger should be issued with a demanding toddler to look after on the flight?
hippo, Nov 28 2001

       Wow! it would be a treasure chest grab bag for hijackers. Overpower the steward with the key and see what you've won. But of course it would be better than nothing and maybe you could have a "dump" feature that jettisons the contents if a threat appears.
lbunting, Nov 28 2001

       Unfortunately, I had to stop packing my crayon bag to make room for the cubicle marionettes.
beauxeault, Nov 28 2001

       I think that I have come up with a variation on mighty_cheese's "single box theory", although I wrote it before I read his, so I'm posting it anyway. I realize that the cost and logistics might be prohibitive - but as a frequent one-bag traveler, I am tired of leaving my Leatherman at home.   

       Each flight should have a single lockbox that the airport screeners collect at the security gate and then deliver to the plane right before takeoff. The screeners would have one box for each gate at the airport. The box would be small enough (about the size of an US Army ammunition box) to fit in an existing locking compartment and could be barcoded to an individual flight for delivery to the gate by authorized personnel. In order to track your "hazardous" items, you place it into a clear plastic baggie and put it in the X-ray machine right before you go through the metal detector. The security guard would then peel off part of your boarding pass with a bar code on it and use it to seal the bag so that it would increase identification and minimize the theft factor. They would then place it in the box that corresponded with your flight by checking the item with a bar code scanner against the code for the box for your flight. At the end of the flight, a flight attendant would unlock the the box and distribute the items once they open the door after its on the ground. This allows for mulit-leg flights - when the doors open, you get your things. The key to the box is kept locked inside the cockpit so that you eliminate another security risk of the attendant holding the key. I'm sure that flight attendants would hate this because it adds one more headache to their already stressful jobs, but too bad. I know that this sounds very tricky with a lot of pitfalls, but its better than the alternative - either leaving your things at home (inconvenient) or checking a single pair of tweezers under the plane (absurd).
marc1919, Feb 18 2002

       I understand that some Olympic skaters are unwilling to let their skates out of their sight. I wonder how that fits with the fact that a skate blade could be used as a deadly weapon?   

       Or did all such skaters come from countries whose security personnel realize that a 9/11 incident can't happen if none of the passengers is willing to let it?   

       I've often thought it would be useful to have a class of service between carry-on and checked baggage, for items whose handling a passenger wishes to monitor but which the passenger won't need during flight. If there were security checkpoints at every gate (which, btw, is how some countries do things) it would be practical for a passenger to give the item to a crewperson and have the crewperson store the item, in the person's presence, in a locked compartment. To allow passengers to take items inside a screened area and outside of the sight of security personnel, however, would be dangerous.   

       Simple scenario: Bob and Joe are conspiring to take over an aircraft. Bob shows his collection of 24" swords(*) to the security people who lock them in the box. Joe boards with a duffle bag full of plausible harmless stuff. Bob and Joe then go into an unoccupied rest room, smash the box open, and put all the swords in Joe's duffle bag. Bob then leaves the airport (skipping his flight) while Joe then goes onto the plane without security being aware.   

       (*) Nobody wanting to take over an aircraft post-9/11 will have much luck with anything less.
supercat, Feb 19 2002

       The box of potential weapons is towed behind the airliner in a winged "trailer."
bristolz, Feb 19 2002

       I think bristolz' idea is a good one...   

       I'd be willing to charge someone with a two foot sword in a plane. No room to swing it, it'd be less use than a four inch knife. They'd have to have a proctologist on standby when we landed though...
StarChaser, Feb 19 2002

       Whole dicussion is now pointless. Following the 11th September no-one will ever manage to hijack a plane again: Man 1: "This is a hijack" Man 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 & 9: "Get 'im" Man 1: "Arrrgggh you've pulled my arms and legs off" Man 10,11,12,13,14,15: "Right now put him in the blender just to make sure...."
CasaLoco, Feb 19 2002

       Will you offer me odds on that Casa?
mcscotland, Feb 19 2002

       How about the lock-boxes have a shrieking alarm that goes off if someone tries to force them open? Also as a bonus, to prevent people from forgetting to have the boxes unlocked when they land, it could also have a sensor when exiting the terminal, that sets off a more friendly "reminder" beep.   

       The idea behind this is so that someone who is legitimately unaware of the security rules regarding what can be taken in carry on luggage won't have to turn around and check them in at the last minute or throw away the "forbidden" items. It's better than checking them because you aren't going to lose the items due to someone else's incompetency. Worst case scenario from a passenger's standpoint is that you forget to have the bag unlocked and have to take it back to the airport (or use items that you can't carry on planes to force it open)   

       The boxes could be locked with higher-security keys (mechanical or electrical) that are made to be more difficult to pick, and "tested" to see if they can be forced open within a reasonable time frame without using tools that can't be in normal carry on baggage.
Dickcheney6, Nov 27 2011

       Good lord - the answer was there in the title all along. Grey seals and Harp seals have a gut transit time of approximately 7-8 hours.   

       They also have three other valuable assets: they are voracious eaters, are not naturally suspicious animals, have only mediocre eyesight, and are accustomed to eating fish. OK, four valuable assets.   

       As you pass through security, therefore, simply toss your switchblades, Bowie knives and other workaday accessories to the adjacent seal, who will swallow them in a trice and, possibly, with relish.   

       During the flight, the aforementioned pinniped will have an opportunity to relax, ruminate and retain your hardware in a fairly irrefutable way.   

       If the flight arrives on time, your weaponry will be available shortly after debarking the plane and, after a quick rinse, will be as good as new.   

       For short-haul flights, capybara are a good alternative to seals, although several may be needed.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 27 2011

       You could let everyone carry whatever weapons they liked on board but go with the "sealed hand" luggage component by locking everyone's hands in boxing gloves or resin only to be unlocked upon disembarkation.
AusCan531, Nov 28 2011

       //have the flight crew ... trained in self-defense// - ninja flight crew
hippo, Nov 28 2011


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