OR Tambo airport defends barring boy’s toy snake from flight

Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport has defended stopping a five-year-old boy from boarding a flight with a stuffed toy snake as his hand luggage.

The stuffed toy snake which OR Tambo International Airport security refused to allow on board on Saturday morning.
Image: Twitter/@Nicole_Fritz

Airport spokesperson Leigh Gunkel-Keuler said security personnel did what they were trained and expected to do in line with international aviation laws and regulations regulated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

“Airport management can appreciate that, on the face of it, this sort of regulation may seem to a layperson to be unnecessary. However, we remain obliged to apply the regulations and we try to do this in a consistent manner.”

The boy is heartbroken at the loss of his toy on Saturday morning, his mother says.

“He keeps asking where it is and when we’re going to pick it up. We said that it’s with the pilot and has gone on a trip,” Freedom Under Law executive director Nicole Fritz said on Monday.

“I thought it was a petty, mean-spirited, cruel exercise of discretion . . . What they were doing was exercising discretion, and the way that they did was to create heartache for a little boy.”

Fritz, her husband and their two children booked in for their flight to Cape Town and were in a long queue at around 8.30am. While waiting in line, her son took the toy snake out of his bag and put it around his neck.

When they got to the front of the queue, a security guard told them they would either have to throw it away or check it into their luggage. A security guard eventually then helped Fritz bypass the queues and escorted her to Kulula’s desk so she could check in the toy snake. But check-in for the flight had already closed.

She ended up having to discard the toy.

Gunkel-Keuler said: “It is regrettable that the detail and application of globally adopted security procedures in recent years has had to get to such a level of detail that even children’s toys are affected.”

Gunkel-Keuler said international regulations went beyond stopping criminal or terrorist attacks and included how passengers could act or respond.

“This naturally includes toy weapons, but also other items that have been deemed to have the potential to cause adverse reactions by passengers during a flight.”

Gunkel-Keuler said this incident highlighted the need for the airport to do more to inform passengers about aviation safety and security.


Source: TMG Digital

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