Is airport security mostly pointless?

A 2017 update… I must say that Sydney Airport has to be a magnet for the employment of the mentally ungifted, and they all unfortunately end up manning those absolutely useless bomb sniffing toys that airports employ to perpetuate the security theater charade that we all know and love.

These mental midgets (and face it, you wouldn’t be working security at an airport if you had ANY other job prospect!) are taught to parrot (or maybe they’re so stupid they actually believe) the useless security protocols used to give the casual traveler the illusion that they are safe, while anyone with youtube access is able to search for a plethora of items that are individually sold in the stores after security at EVERY airport in the world that, when combined, are 1000% more dangerous than the 100ml of shampoo you’re trying to smuggle on your flight. Some batteries and bottled water can build a bomb folks!!!!

Anyway, I had to laugh in the face of the stupid and pompous Sydney Nazi today who obviously drank the kool-aid during induction as he tried to do his pointless job.

I started thinking about how generally pointless it is to work at the security checkpoint at an airport last week when I got pulled up at an Australian airport just before I was boarding a domestic flight because I had a small pair of folding scissors in my hand luggage. Not a large pair but a small pair of the folding grooming/hobby scissors that are 2.5cm long when folded and 5 cm long when unfolded.

These same scissors had been through a plethora of security screening in the month prior including Melbourne Domestic, Melbourne International (twice!), Hong Kong (twice!), Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Wellington but it was Sydney Domestic that decided that this small pair of scissors, that would have trouble cutting a piece of paper, could bring down a plane.

It didn’t really worry me that I lost the scissors (I’ve already bought 4 more for $5 off eBay) but it pissed me off that our security screening is concentrating on such pointless stuff.

What’s the problems with the existing security protocol? Let’s look at a couple of examples

Well, for starters, we need to have a look at some of the things that you cannot take through a security checkpoint at an Australian airport. These come from this page Alot of things on these lists I wholeheartedly agree should be on the list, but some are just mind bogglingly stupid.

Knives (including leatherworkers’ knives) & Metal cutlery

Fair enough you might say. But if you are a member of an airline loyalty scheme that gives you access to a lounge that’s located after security then you will probably have unfettered access to metal cutlery including knifes, forks & spoons.

Also, if you fly in a premium cabin of the plane these days also there’s a fair chance that when you’re served your meal you’ll be given metal cutlery to use.

So, what is the point of having the security checkpoint check, and confiscate, for the very same items that you’ve got access to in the sterile area and on the plane?

Now, some people will quite legitimately say that the knife you get given will have major problems cutting through the supplied butter so it would be quite useless trying to use it as a weapon but I would be more concerned about the fork. Four sharp tines that could inflict severe damage on another person if you really tried.

Flying out of Perth I decided to time myself from the time I picked up my bags from the x-ray machine until I got to the knifes and forks in the lounge. It took, including getting stopped at the bomb detector machine, about 5 minutes until I would have been able to replace my knife & fork that would have been confiscated at the checkpoint. How’s that for pointless security!

Pointed metal scissors

Seems all metal scissors are a no no, not just the pointed variety. But why confiscate a small pair of hobby / grooming scissors when you can walk into a store in the sterile area around 30 metres from the security screening point and see a pair of large, around 15cm long metal scissors sitting on the counter? If you really wanted a pair of scissors in the sterile area all it would take would be for your partner to distract the sales person and you could pocket the far larger and more deadly pair of shop scissors.

Again, more pointless security screening.

There’s hundreds of things that are openly available in the sterile area and on your plane that are just as dangerous as a blunt knife, fork & hobby scissors.

I won’t even go into the damage that a pen or a broken wine bottle or wine glass could do to incapacitate a person but I’m sure your imagination can work it out.

I think we all know that security screening at an airport is just to give us the illusion that we’re secure. If the government & airports were really serious about security then they’d concentrate on the big ticket items and not worry about the small, inconsequential things. And they’d also ensure that the sterile area after security is, in fact, STERILE…. because at the moment it isn’t!

Update: I’m not the only one who thinks the searches they do at airport security are mostly useless given what you can get your hands on right after you pass into the so called “Sterile Area”. To prove the point have a read, and a look at the enclosed video, of this Gizmodo article titled Guy Builds a Bomb Just With Stuff You Can Buy After Airport Security. Just goes to show the people who control airport security screening aren’t overly intelligent.


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Roccos Pizzeria, East Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

For the past 4 or 5 years I’ve been lucky enough to travel to my favourite destination in Asia, Hong Kong, once or twice a year either as a trip in itself, or as a staging point to nearby countries (China, Macau & Vietnam).

I always try to stay in East Tsim Sha Tsui at the InterContinental Grand Stanford. I like the area as its far enough away from the main Kowloon touristy area of Nathan and Canton Roads so that you’re not constantly being harassed by tailors or dodgy Rolex watch hawkers, but you’re also just a 15 minute walk, either by the harborfront promenade or underground through the MTR stations and shopping centres, to the Star Ferry terminal for the ferry hide to Hong Kong Island.

During one of my trips a couple of years ago I happened to stop at Roccos Pizzeria on Mody Road just up the street from my hotel, and with the offer of happy “hour” for most of the day I settled in for a couple of cold beers to quench my thirst. Service was always good, and the food as always a welcome break from always eating Asian food.

On my subsequent trips I used this place as my winding down location after a day of sightseeing and for the most part they were pretty good. Some of the staff even remembered me from my previous visits by name – I think I’d officially become a barfly in another country!

Anyway, onto this years trip. I used Hong Kong as a transit point before and after my trip to Vietnam. I did 2 short stints in Hong Kong, 4 days & 3 days. First thing I did after I’d checked in the first time was head down to Roccos for a couple a beers and to just watch the hustle and bustle of Mody Road. I find it relaxing just sitting there sipping a beer and watching one of the busiest cities in the world go past me.

Things started to go down hill once I returned to Hong Kong after Vietnam. My how the service had deteriorated in just 2 short weeks, and its completely substandard compared to what it was in previous years.

What pissed me off?

Well it was a comedy of bad service… actually bad is the wrong word… absolutely the worst service I’ve ever received in my travels is probably a better way to put it, that occurred on my second day there.

1) I walk in around 5pmish, there’s a couple of people sitting at the bar, and maybe 10 tables of 2 or 3 people. Not overly busy. I sit at the bar and get ignored by the bar staff for a while, I wave to try to get their attention to order a beer, but they seem pre-occupied with cleaning the dirty glasses and chatting which each other to serve me.

2) I finally grab their attention, order a beer, and wait… more chatting, more cleaning glasses, but no beer… feeling a little pissed off I finally grab the bar guys attention again and ask where my beer is… “Sorry sir… I forgot” pfft

3) Finish my beer and wait for my second (its 2 for 1 during happy “hour”)… and wait… and wait… more chatting behind the bar but no beer… about 10 minutes later they look in my direction and finally ask if I want my second beer…

4) After my 2 beers I decided it was time to head off… didn’t want to waste anymore time being ignored so I asked for the bill… and I waited, and waited, while the bar staff chatted and did other things. Another staff member finally noticed I was sitting there like a bump on a log, wallet in hand and asked if I wanted the bill. I said I’d asked for it 10 minutes ago but still hadn’t received it… he went over to the guy I first asked (same guy who forgot my beer, and ignored getting me my 2nd beer) and he frantically printed out my bill and presented it with another “Sorry sir, I forgot”. Well, I “forgot” to leave a tip the service was so bad.

By this time, I was over the place and resolved never to set foot in it again… and to the staff of Roccos I won’t forget!

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Hanoi Hilton Opera, Hanoi, Vietnam

This was my first trip to Vietnam and, as you’ve probably already guessed if you’ve look at the other hotel reviews here, I don’t do backpacker type accommodation. Yep, I’m a 4 or 5 star traveller.

For my digs in Hanoi I chose to stay at the Hanoi Hilton Opera which, as the name suggests, is right next to the Hanoi Opera House. Interesting, the hotel was not named Hanoi Hilton as that name has associations with a prison from the Vietnam War.

The location of the hotel was relatively central and if you couldn’t walk to what you wanted to see then it just took a couple of dollars in a taxi to get there. On that, the taxis I used during my stay were very clean and the drivers took the most direct routes. The fares were always in the ballpark of the estimate that I’d asked from the hotel concierge before I set out.

First impression of the hotel was the magnificently clean and voluminous foyer that extended up for 3 stories that’s surrounded on the higher floors by restaurants, bars and conference facilities. Above this was 7 or 8 accommodation floors contain quite large rooms.

I must say here that, while the hotel generally looked good, it did have a tired feel to it in my room a little, especially the bathroom which look very much ~14 years old (I believe the hotel was built around 1999) as did the outside area of the Ba Mien restaurant where breakfast was served.

My room itself was probably one of the largest hotel rooms I’ve ever stayed in. You won’t feel crowded in the room, in fact, you could you could have had a party in there!

Great, large bed. Large TV with all the cable/satellite TV channels you expect (and no censorship blackouts like you get in China!).

The bathroom, with separate bath and shower was also very spacious.

The air conditioner in my room was a little bit of a pain to set on a comfortable temperature, but once set worked like a charm for the remainder of my stay.

The hotel supplied Internet across the whole property, in your room (wired and wifi) and public areas (wifi). Internet was complimentary (but I can’t remember if that’s because of the rate I paid or whether everyone gets free Internet).

I had breakfast included in my room rate at the Ba Mien Vietnamese restaurant. Breakfast was buffet style with a quite good selection of Vietnamese, Asian and Western food options to suit all tastes. And because of the colonial French influence in Vietnam the pastries were a highlight.

I used two of the bars / lounges during my stay. The Cafe Opera next to hotel reception was a good informal area for a local beer and a pho after your sightseeing. I also had a quiet beer and a feed at JJ’s Sports Bar a couple of times, though it didn’t seem to be all that well patronised (maybe when a major sports event is on patronage picks up).

Overall, Hilton Hanoi Opera was a very good, relatively well priced hotel to base yourself at in Hanoi.

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Curry Tiffin, Stanley, Hong Kong

I thoroughly recommend that you make the bus trip to Stanley on Hong Kong Island if you find yourself in Hong Kong and you love great indian food.

I stumbled across the restaurant about 4 years ago while I was exploring the back alleys of Stanley Market in Stanley and being a sucker for Indian food I had to give it a try.

I was so impressed that on each trip to Hong Kong since then I’ve had to make the trip out for lunch. I’ve even taken colleagues who I’ve been travelling with there and they were also suitably impressed.

My standard fare is the Onion Bhaji, a Vindaloo and garlic naan but anything on their menu is good! And the prices are very reasonable as well. So double win!

Also, the bus trip from either Tsim Sha Tsui or Central, which takes about an hour, is so immensely picturesque which makes the trip doubly enjoyable.

The Curry Tiffin have a website at

November 2014 update

Was back in Hong Kong for a quick break from work and again headed out to Stanley for lunch at Curry Tiffin.

Had a great feast of Onion Bhaji, Chicken Vindaloo, Keema Naan and rice, washed down with a couple of beers.

August 2015 update

Much sadness, Curry Tiffin is no more.

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Looks like the only thing “deletable” was the C that’s missing.

Looks like the only thing “deletable” was the C that’s missing. ?


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