Add drones to the list of baggage items that might land travelers in an interrogation with airport security. A group of robot makers who had packed drones in their bags endured two hours of questioning by customs officials after getting off a flight from Dublin to London.
The "Tomorrows Thoughts Today" group had performed a robotic ballet in front of crowds at the Science Gallery for the Hack the Day exhibition in Dublin, according to SiliconRepublic.com. But the group's drones drew a very different sort of attention from British airport security at London Southend Airport — the performers' interrogations ended up being recorded under the UK's Terrorism Act.
(One of the robot makers worried that customs officials would think his group meant to "incite terrorism with the upcoming Olympic games" being held in London this summer.)
That incident on June 22 spawned a conversation on the DIY Drones website about how to properly pack drones so that they won't raise red flags at the airport. Chris Anderson, DIY Drones founder and editor in chief of Wired Magazine, had three suggestions:
1) Pack the drones in checked luggage
2) Include a note that explains what the flying robots are, but avoid using the word "drones." (Good advice considering that people find the word "drone" scary even when it's unimportant).
3) Carry the drones' lithium-ion polymer batteries in a clearly marked bag within the carry-on luggage.
Other DIY Drone members weighed in with airport tips such as taking the batteries out for open inspection in the security screening line, so that they don't appear as a surprise for airport security screeners.