Days after doing away with stamping of baggage tags at seven metro airports, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) will include six other airports in the list from Monday.
The force will conduct a week-long trial run at Chennai, Patna, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, Jaipur and Lucknow airports from April 24-30.
“Before implementing permanently, we want to conduct a trial run so that if there are any security concerns, they can be addressed,” CISF director general (DG) OP Singh said.
From April 1, air travellers at Delhi and six other airports were asked not to get hand baggage tags stamped anymore.
In December, CISF had started trial runs for this but stamping was resumed after a week due to security concerns.
The Bureau Of Civil Aviation Security Office (BCAS) in February issued an order announcing that the procedure was to be done away with but the CISF had at that time objected to immediate implementation of the plan.
Following this, a joint meeting was held to iron out issues. “Appropriate measures have been taken. The cycle of security check will speed up and our staff will get more time to check suspicious baggage,” Singh added.
After the trial run, the move will be tried at other airports. The CISF provides security at 59 airports.
During the previous trial run, the CISF found that stamping of baggage tags could be dispensed with after certain modifications of security architecture in security hold areas of the airports and installation of high definition CCTV cameras.
These modifications were required to make sure that passengers could not access bags containing restricted items which are segregated by the CISF personnel for checking.
“High-definition CCTV cameras focussed on the baggage screening system were required so that CISF personnel who cleared a bag could be easily identified to fix accountability,” a CISF official said.
CISF had collected the feedback during the one-week trial run.
“In Bengaluru, 89% of the passengers appreciated the move, while 11% said stamps on tags bring a sense of security. In Delhi, over 2,400 flights were covered and in some cases, during random checks at boarding gates, few suspicious items were caught. We were required to fill the gap before reintroducing it,” the official added.
During the trial run from December 15-22, security check areas were monitored through CCTV cameras to ensure no passenger skips the mandatory check. CISF staff at the boarding gates have been asked not to check for baggage tags. The decision was taken after the DG met representatives of all the airlines last week.
“As per the feedback, stamping causes inconvenience to passengers. Many times, a passenger is turned away from the boarding gate if the tag gets misplaced,” the official said.
Often, if a traveller is asked to open a bag after it goes through a scan, others in the queue have to wait till their tags can be stamped.
“Now, if one passenger is stopped, others in the queue can move on to the boarding gate after security check. This will benefit the passengers and at no point, security will be compromised,” he said.