And all for an important cause, as South African airspace is safe once again ? my cunning plan to hijack a flight to Cape Town and divert it to the Maldives for a fortnight is no more, as my trusty nail scissors (the modern terrorist's weapon of choice) are now sadly languishing in a confiscation bin at the airport.
Just how much damage one can really do with a pair of nail scissors is open to debate ? as the comedian Riaad Moosa suggests, you could always threaten to manicure another passenger for every hour your demands aren't met ? but whatever your point of view, they?re strictly banned in hand luggage.
There?s probably an old MacGyver episode where nail scissors, a bread roll and a rolled-up copy of Sawubona combine to make a semi-automatic weapon. I missed that one, but the guys at airport security clearly didn?t. Nail scissors earned me a severe warning. If I?d brought the tweezers along I?d probably be en route to Guantanamo Bay by now.
Security is a touchy subject at airports in a post-9/11 world. Laptops are removed for particular scrutiny, belts and shoes taken off for extra inspection (in the case of Crocs, they?re sadly given back), and liquids are very sternly controlled, in case you?re planning to jump an air hostess with a handful of moisturiser and some make-up remover.
The Heathrow scare a few years ago has made it easier to get Colombian cocaine onto a flight than it is a duty free bottle of single malt, which is great if you?re Pete Doherty, perhaps, but not so good if you?re Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. Eau de toilette the new heroin? Who would have thought?
"You're? Muslim," she squawked
It?s an updated list from the colourful pictogram plastered across airport walls that warns of the assorted evils banned from the cabin. Poison, explosives, lighters, traditional weapons ? essentially, everything you?d never think of taking with you on a flight, but end up wishing you had on hand the moment the toddler in the row in front of you breaks into a teething aria.
You?re also warned when leaving Changi Airport in Singapore (probably my favourite airport on the planet) that live animals can?t be taken on board. Which is fair enough: Osama Bin Laden; bad, Osama Bin Laden with Rottweiler; probably worse.
A word of warning here, though ? light-hearted comments about that particular regulation precluding your partner?s mother from joining you on board, can make for a very cold flight home?
So pets, guns, nail scissors and knobkerries are all on the banned list. I suppose it?s all for the greater good though, even if my confiscated scissors had made it through the previous three airport security check points unnoticed. And while good-natured hijack jokes are now strictly off limits anywhere near a plane, the opportunity for humour's not completely gone.
Cue Moosa once again and a recent flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town, where all was going swimmingly until his halaal meal arrived, prompting the passenger beside him to break into a nervous sweat.
"You're? Muslim," she squawked, clearly terrified, and listening out for ticking noises.
"I am, and I don?t appreciate your response," Moosa replied, before breaking into an evil grin.
"After all, I?m only trying to enjoy my last meal?"
> First published in October 2008