APEX Insight: Australia will implement tighter screening and restrictions on the carriage of powders in the cabin, following concerns that terrorists could bring chemical weapons in the form of powders on board commercial airliners.
Australia’s new carry-on powder restrictions follow last year’s foiled terrorist plot, involving an Etihad flight from Sydney, when security services uncovered plans to build a chemical dispersion device. The move coincides with the US Transportation Security Administration’s implementation, likewise on 30 June, of restrictions on the transport of powders in carry-on bags on flights to the US.
Under the new Australian regulations, travelers on international flights, or transiting through Australia from another country, will be required to present all powders in their carry-on bags separately for screening, including cosmetics, baby formula, powdered food, talcum powder, coffee, salt and sand products. Unlike the rules for liquids, aerosols and gels, travelers are not required to put the powder products in clear, resealable bags.
Travelers on domestic Australian flights are not affected, unless they are departing from an international terminal, such as Sydney’s Terminal 1 or Melbourne’s Terminal 2.
Inorganic powders must be in containers of less than 350ml volume or 350g weight to be allowed the cabin.
The Australian Government has set no limit on organic powders, such as food and powdered baby formula, but there are restrictions on inorganic powders – those that are not consisting of or derived from living matter. Inorganic powders must be in containers of less than 350ml volume or 350g weight. There are no restrictions on the number of containers a person can carry, as long as the total volume is 350ml or less, but travelers cannot tip powders out to fall under the 350ml threshold as the restriction is based on total container volume. Anything above these limits is required to be carried in checked baggage.
Prescription and non-prescription medicines are exempt, but a doctor’s letter will be required for presentation at the screening point. Cremated human remains are also exempt.
The restrictions will be strictly applied and security screening officers will have the final say if there is any doubt regarding a substance, the government says.
Other countries are expected to follow Australia and the US with powder screening and restrictions.