On my first international flight to Dubai, I was nervous even though I did not carry any illegal items. I read all the horrid stories online of people being arrested and subjected to humiliation after being caught with drugs or other harmful weapons.
Travelling can be fun, but being cautious is something that every traveller should be. Safety is a huge issue in any airport and finding a routine to ensure yours is important. The King Shaka International Airport was evacuated on Sunday night following a bomb scare after an unattended bag in departures was found and examined by the SAPS bomb tech team. These safety issues can affect any traveller, especially if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
No matter how dedicated you may be to upholding the law, if you are not aware of your surrounding and take the necessary precautions you could be a soft target by criminals.
These types of news can wreck your mental state, having to go back and forth obsessing over scenarios that may not even happen to you. It can also make you alert, which is one trait that can save you from a security mess up.
So before my 8 hour flight to Dubai, I needed to make sure that all my packing was done by me and that if I took anything for people, I needed to trust them and understand that what I am taking is legal and of good faith.
Then I would need to lock my bag and bubble wrap it as added protection.
“Often people do not know all the contents of their bags or takes items for people that could get them in trouble. Only transport items for people if you trust them and know what you are transporting,” Jennifer Morris, the owner of Travel Savvy tells me when I call her asking her for some tips.
“Bags should never be left unattended. Use a tamper proof lock on your luggage and make use of the baggage wrapping service. These small tips can help immensely,” she adds.
Many travellers have bad senses of humour when they are in the airport and they get into serious trouble.
So a word of advice is to never joke about having any dangerous equipment. The last thing you want is for your trip to end abruptly even before it started.
Do not say things like: ‘I have a weapon’ or ‘there is a bomb there’ because as much as you may be clean and following procedures, these jokes could land you in prison.
Morris makes a good point.
“Airline staff are trained not to have a sense of humour. If you make a comment about anything that could potentially jeopardise the safety of other passengers, you may just end up missing your flight,” she said.
My advice and the way I behave at the airport or on a flight is to keep quiet unless you spoken to.
The aspect that concerns me everytime I fly is petty theft. Airports are just full of people wanting to steal.
I try to not show off any prized belongings until I am safe from the crowds. According to Morris, never accept assistance from unofficial guards, ‘baggage handlers’ as pickpockets and con artists normally camouflage themselves as helpers before they steal from travellers.