E-cigarettes, dried coconut, ghee and pickles are some of the prohibited items that can be carried in check-in baggage.
Image used for illustrative purposes. – Reuters Archive
The India-UAE air corridor is one of the busiest routes as a large number of Indians travel to the Gulf country for business, tourism and employment purposes. As the festival season approaches, the flow of visitors will increase substantially. But lately, there has been a notable increase in the rate at which checked baggage is being turned away at the Mumbai International Airport as domestic and international passengers carry more items that are prohibited.
According to the Mumbai airport, some of the prohibited items Dried coconut (copra), fireworks, sparklers, poppers, matches, paint, camphor, ghee, pickles and other fatty foods are often found in checked luggage.
“Some other items considered major culprits include e-cigarettes, lighters, power banks and spray bottles, to name a few. Unbeknownst to many passengers, all of these items pose potential risks to flight safety if handled or stored incorrectly. These items are generally known to be associated with risks of fire, explosions or interference with aircraft electrical systems,” Mumbai airport said.
Highly flammable items
Last year, a total of 943 dried coconuts were found from passengers’ checked bags. Dried coconut contains a large amount of oil that is highly flammable and can cause a fire if it comes into contact with the heat inside the plane. India’s Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) added it to the list of prohibited items in March 2022, and most passengers are still unaware of this inclusion, it said.
According to the third quarter passenger figures from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) in Mumbai, Dubai, London and Abu Dhabi continued to maintain their status as the most preferred international destinations, as passenger traffic from the top three international destinations surpassed 1.1 million, marking an increase of 21 percent compared to 0.9 million in the third quarter of 2022.
Importantly, the UAE is home to over 3.5 million non-resident Indians, the largest expatriate community in the Gulf country. Furthermore, Indians account for the majority of the number of tourists. India remained Dubai International Airport’s top destination in the first half of 2023, with 6 million passengers using the world’s busiest airport.
“While CSMIA understands the emotional importance attached to certain religious items, especially during festive periods, some of these seemingly harmless items can potentially be life-threatening and pose serious safety risks.
“This increasing trend in the rate of rejection of checked baggage can largely be attributed to the lack of awareness among travelers in general about which items are prohibited or dangerous to carry on the plane. “Passengers should prioritize knowing and understanding the guidelines issued by the airport or airlines on items considered dangerous and prohibited,” he said.
Checked baggage control process
The proportion of checked bags that were rejected compared to the total number of bags inspected increased from 0.31 percent in December 2022 to 0.73 percent in May.
The Mumbai Airport baggage system has an approximately 8 kilometer baggage carousel that handles a remarkable capacity of 9,600 bags per hour at Terminal 2 and 4,800 bags per hour at Terminal 1.
Some of the prohibited items:
Below is the checked baggage screening process for passengers traveling through Mumbai International Airport.
Step 1: Passengers hand in their checked bags at airline counters. The airline representative sticks a label with a barcode on the suitcase.
Step 2: The bag is x-rayed, one level below, and transported on blue conveyor belts.
Step 3: Eight X-ray machines scan each bag and ship it. The online security team member receives the scanned X-ray image and within 20 to 30 seconds it is decided whether the bag is ready to continue. CCTV cameras track each bag throughout this process.