Boarding with bullets: items that don't make it...
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Jan 30, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Boarding with bullets: items that don't make it past security at Pearson

From the innocuous (peanut butter) to the obvious (throwing knives), here’s what won’t make it through the screening as you take off for that winter getaway.


Security at Pearson: by the numbers

2 Number of luggage storage locations at Pearson International Airport where you can mail or store confiscated items. There is one at each terminal.

6 Percentage of passengers at Pearson who have items intercepted by security.

6 Maximum length, in centimetres, for acceptable scissor blades or tools.

9 Number of security checkpoints at Pearson International Airport. There are five checkpoints at Terminal 1 and four checkpoints at Terminal 3.

1,400 Number of screening officers employed at Pearson, the country's busiest airport.

100,000 Approximate number of items that aren’t gels, liquids or aerosols confiscated at Pearson each year.

16.4 million Number of passengers screened last year at Pearson.

Numbers from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority


Machetes and maple syrup, police batons, bullets (real and fake) and peanut butter: these items don’t fly at Toronto’s largest airport.

But that doesn’t mean some people don’t try, which is why they’re among the objects recently confiscated from Pearson International Airport’s nine security checkpoints.

Anything brass-knuckle-related — the latest trend in phone cases and purse handles — is taken away. Finding the weapon itself merits a call to the Peel Regional Police airport division; so does the seizure of illegal throwing knives, another treasure in the chest.

Have you heard of a stun gun concealed in a cellphone case? Mathieu Larocque, spokesperson for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), has. They’re not found at security ever day, but he’s seen a few.

Lately, Larocque said, blenders are growing in popularity as a carry-on item. The blender jar, he said, can go through. The blades are a no-go.

A normal bin of seized items brims with scissors, lighters and small knives, said Larocque; security checks at Terminal 1 on Monday and Tuesday filled two of them. The bins don’t include liquids, aerosols or gels, which get tossed right away.


“Water bottles are by far the most popular interception, but they’re just thrown away,” Larocque said. He’s not exaggerating; at least a dozen people threw out water bottles at one of Pearson’s designated pitching stations in less than an hour Wednesday.

A third-party waste management company is in charge of gathering and disposing of the seized objects.

“Screening officers are not police officers. They can’t confiscate an item without permission, but they also can’t let certain items go through,” Larocque said.

Passengers with enough time can leave the items with their friends or family, put them in their car or store the items in their checked baggage, he said. At each Pearson terminal there is also a luggage storage store, where passengers can either pay to leave their items or mail the items to their intended destination.

When a passenger brings a forbidden item, the reason usually comes down to forgetfulness, Larocque said. But even the most innocuous additions can slow things down at security, causing a “pretty significant” impact during high travel times such as March Break and Christmas, he said.

“The peanut butters, the syrups, it really slows down the screening process.”

Toronto Star

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