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Current as of 23/09/14 07:40PM NZST

New Zealand passengers feel impact of UK alert [audio report]

Passengers at Auckland Airport are feeling the impact of the terrorist scare soon after it caused chaos in Europe.

An Air New Zealand flight to London's Heathrow Airport left this morning three hours late.

Last night, some passengers began repacking hand luggage into their suitcases on learning of the tough new regulations adopted in Britain, restricting carry-on baggage to essential items.

Airline authorities were able to give little immediate information - other than warning of delays - about what would happen at the end of passengers' long-haul flights.

Air New Zealand general manager of operations John Whittaker said it was possible there might be some flight delays due to the increased security measures implemented by the Department for Transport in Britain.

"We strongly encourage customers travelling to and from London to monitor arrival and departure times on the Air New Zealand website or to stay in contact with their booking agent.

"Likewise, we would encourage customers travelling from Heathrow to Los Angeles or Auckland to arrive for their flight up to four hours before departure because it is likely checking in could be slower than normal."

He said this morning that there was an "indication that the situation will improve".

Two Air NZ and a Qantas flight were due to leave for London today from Auckland, along with other services with connecting flights.

No electrical or battery-powered items will be allowed in the cabin, including laptops and mobile phones.

Some of the bare essentials permitted by the new rules are pocket-sized purses and wallets, essential travel documents such as tickets, spectacles without the case, contact-lens holders but not bottles of solution, and baby food and nappies.

Parents with infant formula are being told the fluid will be tasted before they can board.

Such items have to be carried in a plastic bag, preferably transparent.

All passengers must be hand-searched and their footwear and all carried items have to be x-rayed.

The British Airports Authority said all passengers on flights to the US would be subject to a secondary search at the boarding gate.

No cancellations

Flight Centre spokesman John McGuinness said today the company did not get one cancellation when terrorists bombed the London underground and did not expect any from the latest round of terror threats in Britain.

Mr McGuinness said most New Zealanders had an attitude that terrorists or terror threats would not affect their lives or travel.

"It seems like the resilience, especially for places like that where we have got such strong links, is very strong and growing.

'I think people are actually becoming more and more resilient to the threats, almost to the point of 'whatever is going to happen will happen so I am going to go anyway'," he said.

"If you are planning to go up and see you family, your kids who are doing their OE (overseas experience) or you are going to see parents or grandparents in the UK, then it is not going to stop you," Mr McGuinness said.

Ed Sims, Air New Zealand's international airline general manager, said passengers leaving New Zealand should re-pack the most basic and essential items into transparent plastic bags.

Mr Sims said most passengers were happy to comply. Clear plastic bags were offered to passengers in London and Auckland last night so they could re-pack their carry on items.

"It is the Kiwi attitude to say 'no it is my right to travel' and it is the combination of that with the British stoicism," Mr Sims said.

"The Brits have been through this for many, many years if you think of the IRA terrorist threats at Heathrow."


BAGGAGE RESTRICTIONS

Passengers on flights from UK are allowed only the following items, to be carried in a plastic carrier bag. Passengers flying into the UK have also been advised to re-pack in NZ if they then have connecting flights.

* pocket size wallets and purses
* essential travel documents and passports
* prescription medicines, except in liquid form unless verified as authentic
* spectacles and sunglasses, without cases
* contact lens holders, without bottles of solution
* baby food, milk. Contents of each bottle must be tasted by the accompanying passenger. Nappies, wipes, creams and nappy disposal bags
* female sanitary items
* tissues and/or handkerchiefs
* keys, but no electrical key fobs

Source: UK Government

- NZPA, REUTERS, NZHERALD STAFF

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