At gates five to eight at Auckland Airport three extra security lanes were set up yesterday for the extra checks needed for passengers travelling to the United States.

Thirty-two extra security staff were carrying out the checks and two explosives detection dogs made their way down the queues.

Four flights left last night for Los Angeles and San Francisco and there were up to 1700 passengers to check through.

Although they had already gone through the airport's usual checks for international flights, the extra checks were needed for items, such as liquids, allowed on flights to other countries but not the US.

Passengers took off their shoes and belts to go through the x-ray machines, and metal detectors were passed over every traveller.

Security officers thoroughly checked all hand luggage. Bottles of water, medicines with prescriptions that did not match the passenger's name, deodorants and perfumes were all thrown into big yellow quarantine bins. Hand luggage was allowed, although some passengers who had connecting flights in the US had already taken the precaution of cutting down on this and carrying only essential items in clear plastic bags.

The duty-free shops outside the gates were almost empty of customers - all liquids, including alcohol, perfumes and cosmetics, had to be confiscated, even if they were bought at the airport.

Behind the security lanes the Ionscan trace detection unit was sometimes used to check swabs of anything suspicious - including bags and hands - for traces of explosive matter.

It was also used for passengers who had trouble taking off their shoes, such as the disabled or elderly.

Aviation Security had worked through the afternoon to set up the extra security checks needed just for the US flights and an intercom message periodically warned of it.

Most passengers were philosophical and didn't argue if something had to be taken. A mysterious small bottle seen on the x-ray in one man's toilet bag turned out to be aftershave, which had fallen behind the lining. It went into the yellow bin.

"I can get another one," he said. "I don't really have a choice anyway."

A young man's bag was taken to be swabbed and checked for explosives matter. He was told he was free to go. His response was simply: "Alrighty."

Aucklander Peter Thomas was waiting for his flight to San Francisco to board.

He and three friends were heading to an International HIV and Aids conference. He admitted they were a bit worried about flying.

They had heard of the restrictions before getting to the airport, and packed accordingly for their connecting flight. His speech notes for the conference were his only hand luggage.

"At least I'll get lots of practice."

Passengers checking in for international flights last night were handed clear plastic bags in which to put their hand luggage.

The mood was calm and orderly as airport staff handed out the bags and explained what could and couldn't be taken on board.

David Coleman, who was travelling to London, was told to repack his laptop and camera as check-in luggage. "I've had to check in expensive personal items which I now have no guarantee of getting back ... It's a bit over the top."

He said he wasn't particularly worried about the terror threat.

"I was in Israel two weeks ago. You are going to get bombs somewhere."

Limited luggage

To the United States
Passengers cannot take on board:
* Drinks [including duty free], shampoo, suntan lotion, creams, toothpaste, hair gel or any other items of a similar consistency.

Can take on board:
* Baby formula, breast milk, juice for baby or small child.
* Prescription medicine where the patient's name matches the airline ticket, essential medicines.

To Britain
Passengers allowed one transparent sealable bag containing only:
* Pocket-sized wallets and pocket-sized purses with contents such as money and credit cards.
* Essential travel documents.
* Prescription medicines and medical items sufficient and essential for the flight (e.g. diabetic kit), except in liquid form unless verified as authentic.
* Spectacles, without cases.
* Contact lens holders, without bottles of solution.
* Female sanitary items, tissues and/or handkerchiefs sufficient and essential for the flight, unboxed.
* Keys (no electrical/remote key fobs).
* Travellers with infants can take baby food, milk (each bottle must be tasted by the accompanying passenger), nappies, wipes, creams and nappy-disposal bags.

- Additional reporting Maggie McNaughton