Prague Airport will open checked bags

Passengers are urged to get new security friendly locks

Security personnel at Václav Havel Airport Prague will start checking for trace elements of explosives inside checked baggage starting in May 2017. Airport security workers will be able to open baggage and check the contents. This may include opening locked baggage outside of the presence of the owner, and even damaging locks to do so. The change will not affect the time needed for passenger security control, according to a press release.

“Detection controls for trace elements of explosives at airports are not a new phenomenon. The system has been used around the world for decades and we also use it during our security controls. However, to keep up with the safest airports in Europe, it is necessary to continue improving the safety measures and react to situations at hand,” Milan Špaček, member of the Prague Airport board of directors responsible for the area of airport safety, said in a Prague Airport press release.

“The number of serviced passengers at Václav Havel Airport Prague continues to grow and it is thus also necessary to react to these operational changes with the implementation of more efficient safety procedures,” he added.

Passengers know this procedure from American airports and airports around Europe, for example, in Germany, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland.

At Václav Havel Airport, a new secured station has been created with CCTV and other technical features. Co-operation with baggage and lock manufacturers has also been set up so airport workers can open most baggage without damaging it, but this will only apply to newer luggage.

The security control worker will open luggage and obtain a sample by swabbing its contents. The sample is then checked for possible contamination with explosives. The entire process is supposed to take place at a specialized post under camera surveillance. Detailed records are supposed be kept of every inspection.

“The entire process of baggage opening, sample obtaining, evaluation and baggage closing takes about 10 minutes and is performed without the baggage owner present. Thus, it does not influence the checking in and security control of passengers,” Špaček said.

“During current operations, we inspect dozens of pieces of baggage a day either randomly or as a target. Passengers are notified that the baggage has been subjected to a control by adhesive tape securing the baggage after the control. A note is also placed into each inspected piece of baggage with a description of the inspection and instructions for next steps if necessary.”

Airport officials recommend passengers secure their baggage using TSA locks (marked with a red diamond sign), which can be opened using a special safety key, or other options of securing their baggage, such as shrink-wrapping or using removable covers. Standard padlocks or integrated baggage locks without the TSA symbol may be damaged during the opening process, the press release warned.

The use of detection devices to inspect checked baggage is in line with European legal directives.

More information is available on the airport’s website: (CZ), at check-in desks and on fliers located at stands around the airport.

A special info line for passengers whose baggage has been subject to the Explosive Trace Detection (ETD) process will be established, according to the Prague Airport press release.

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