A Briton has sparked a security alert after claiming he had carried more than 200 fireworks on two flights in the United States without being stopped. It was only after he returned to Heathrow airport that officials picked up on the hazardous goods and a lighter.
Paul Jones, 29, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, said he did not consider the security implications of the fireworks when questioned by security staff at Heathrow.
US Federal law prohibits hazardous materials, such as fireworks, from being included in either checked in or carry-on baggage.
Continental Airlines said it did not have a record of the incident, but that it warned customers about hazardous materials prohibited on aircraft.
Bangers are banned from sale in the UK under The Fireworks (Safety) Regulation 1997.
Jones had been visiting Wichita, Kansas, during US Independence Day celebrations on 4 July and was left with the bag of Black Cat fireworks.
Deciding to take them home to Greater Manchester, he did not consider the security implications.
“I put them in my pocket, walked through then put them on a grey tray at the customs and security. They had to go through the x-ray,” he told the BBC.
It was when he arrived back at Heathrow that the fireworks were discovered by UK staff.
“I was waiting for my suitcase at the carousel and when I picked it up I’d opened it up and put my tobacco and everything inside to carry it through,” he said.
“The customs said I was looking suspicious so they pulled me, emptied it all out, and asked me how I got it through customs.”
After explaining the situation, he was allowed to leave with the fireworks.
A spokesperson for Continental Airlines said security screening of passengers was the responsibility of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
The incident highlights airline security following the foiled attack by a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist on Christmas Day.
The TSA has spent more than $80 million for about 500 machines, including 133 now at airports. It plans to install about 1,000 by the end of next year.