Frequently Asked Questions—Security Checks at Airports
General Domestic Screening
Which airports and flights are subject to passenger, carry-on baggage and checked baggage screening?
Screening of passengers, carry-on baggage and checked baggage affects all travellers departing on regular public transport and open charter air services from the following capital city and regional airports:
- WA: Albany, Argyle, Broome, Busselton, Curtin, Esperance, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Karratha, Kununurra, Learmonth, Newman, Paraburdoo, Perth, Port Hedland, Ravensthorpe
- Queensland: Barcaldine, Blackall, Brisbane, Bundaberg, Cairns, Cloncurry, Emerald, Gladstone, Gold Coast, Hamilton Island, Hervey Bay, Horn Island, Longreach, Mackay, Moranbah, Mt Isa, Rockhampton, Roma, Sunshine Coast, Townsville, Weipa, Whitsunday Coast
- NSW: Albury, Ballina, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Sydney, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga
- NT: Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, Darwin, Gove, McArthur River
- Tasmania: Hobart, Devonport, Launceston
- Victoria: Avalon, Melbourne, Mildura
- SA: Adelaide, Olympic Dam, Port Lincoln
- ACT: Canberra
- Christmas Island
- Cocos/Keeling Islands
- Norfolk Island
Why is screening only required on some services?
The screening of passengers, carry-on bags and checked bags is very expensive. Requiring screening for all flights could lead to some communities losing air services. Screening occurs on the flights that are deemed to have the highest security risk. Ninety-six per cent of domestic passengers in Australia depart from screened airports.
What security measures are in place for unscreened services?
The Australian Government requires a range of security measures on Australian aircraft. Security measures that may apply to your flight include:
- hardened cockpit doors to prevent unauthorised access to the cockpit;
- trained and armed Australian Federal Police officers who travel undercover to protect the Australian public;
- reconciliation of passengers with bags to reduce the likelihood of someone using checked baggage as a means of destroying a plane;
- securing of aircraft while at an airport to prevent unauthorised access to the plane; and
- restricted access to parts of airports.
Who is responsible for screening at Australian airports?
Screening of passengers, carry-on baggage and checked baggage at Australian airports is conducted by a screening authority. In most cases, this will be the airport from which you have departed, or the airline on which you are travelling. At some of the larger airports, such as Sydney and Perth, there may be different screening authorities at different terminals.
Why is passenger screening necessary?
Passenger screening is necessary to reduce the likelihood of a person bringing a weapon or a prohibited item into the cabin of an aircraft. Weapons and prohibited items present a significant security risk to the aircraft and to the people onboard.
Where should I direct my complaint if I am unhappy with my treatment at a screening point?
Complaints about the screening process should be made in the first instance to the screening point supervisor at the time of screening. If your complaint is not resolved, you can progress the complaint to the screening authority.
While going through a screening point, a security officer approached me to test for explosives. Why did this happen?
As part of the screening process, a sample of people are selected to undergo testing using an explosive trace detection machine. Security screening officers are required to choose people for this process on a random basis. No profiling is used in selecting people for explosive testing.
Do the rules about weapons and prohibited items apply to me if I am flying on an unscreened service?
Yes, the rules about weapons and prohibited items apply irrespective of whether screening occurs. People who carry weapons or prohibited items in the cabin of unscreened services risk being prosecuted. Any weapons or prohibited items should be packed into your checked baggage, if they are allowed under your airline's Conditions of Carriage. Check with your airline for more information.
If you plan to travel with firearms or ammunition, or any other item that may present a safety risk to the aircraft, you should read the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's information on dangerous goods. You should also contact your airline before flying to check if these items will be permitted.
Do the liquids, aerosols and gels restrictions apply to domestic air services?
No. The liquids, aerosols and gels restrictions only apply to international flights. However, domestic passengers occasionally travel on an international aircraft while it's travelling within Australia (for example, on the Sydney–Melbourne leg of a Hong Kong–Sydney–Melbourne flight). In these circumstances, domestic passengers will board their aircraft at the international terminal, and will be subject to international restrictions.
If you are unsure whether your flight is domestic or international, please contact your airline.
Checked Baggage Screening
What is the purpose of checked baggage screening
Checked baggage screening is designed to prevent explosives and improvised explosive devices from being loaded onto an aircraft.
How is checked baggage screened?
Checked baggage screening is conducted in a number of ways, including:
- explosive detection system capable X-ray equipment that searches for explosive materials or improvised explosive devices;
- testing for explosives residues using Explosive Trace Detection equipment; and
- physical search.
What types of baggage do these measures cover?
All baggage and other items that are checked in at the main service counter when you arrive at the airport and are carried in the aircraft hold are affected by these measures.
Will my checked baggage be screened before I board?
Yes, your checked baggage will usually be screened after you check it in at the airport's main service counter. However, in some circumstances, checked items may be screened immediately prior to check-in.
How does checked baggage screening improve aviation security?
Checked baggage screening is one layer of the multi-layer security approach used at airports throughout Australia. Checked baggage screening is designed to prevent explosives and improvised explosive devices being loaded onto an aircraft.
Can I refuse to have my bags screened?
All checked baggage on a screened air service is screened. If you refuse to allow your bag to be screened you will not be able to check it in.
I am a licensed shooter and wish to pack a firearm and ammunition into my checked baggage. Is this permitted?
Security regulations do not prohibit the carriage of firearms and ammunition in checked baggage. This is because passengers do not have access to their checked baggage during a flight, so the weapon does not present a threat to the security of the aircraft.
However, if you plan to travel with firearms or ammunition, or any other item that may present a safety risk to the aircraft, you should read the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's information on dangerous goods. You should also contact your airline before flying to check if these items will be permitted.