There are two occasions in which you should never approach a snooker player.

The first is during a match. The second is at a baggage carousel.

The latter is almost as tense a time for the professionals as the former as they wonder to themselves whether their cue is going to make it off the plane or not.

The 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks in America prompted a widespread tightening of airline security rules. Among the items to be banned from being taken on to aircraft as hand luggage was sporting equipment, including snooker cues.

This has led to many occasions in which players have arrived in a foreign land only to find their cue has not made it with them.

At the recent Haikou World Open Ricky Walden, Andrew Higginson and Matthew Stevens were among the unlucky ones. Li Hang, coming from China to Europe, did not have his cue for the PTC Grand Finals.

But, at long last, there may be a reason for hope. In America, the Transportation Security Administration will allow cues as hand luggage on flights under their jurisdiction.

This is the first real sign of a change of policy amid the airline industry and it strengthens World Snooker’s hand when it comes to lobbying on the players’ behalf for some kind of dispensation. It is their livelihoods we are talking about after all.

On the face of it it’s hard to see what damage could be done with a snooker cue on an aeroplane. As one player said to me at Crondon Park this week, “at the moment I can’t even do any damage with it on the table.”

Stevens, of course, used three cues in Haikou – his own for his last three matches – and still reached the final but a player’s cue is almost like an extension of themselves.

In the early 1980s, Steve Davis used to sleep alongside his. In 1990, Stephen Hendry offered a five figure reward for the return of his cue after it was stolen.

Ironically, it was eventually ruined beyond repair – by baggage handlers.


Alan said...

Hi Dave! I've had my snooker cue mislaid on several flights around America, and one damaged on a flight from Los Angeles to Chicago. So this is particularly good news for me! :)

Anonymous said...

Dave, the 5 Scottish representatives at the European U-21 Snooker in Serbia at the moment had to play their first couple of matches with borrowed cues as theirs did not arrive. The cues followed a couple of days late but 4 of them are still without any luggage!

John McBride said...

There has to be a serious business opportunity here Dave. Surely someone in the WSA could negotiate a deal with one of the carriers, be it, DHL/FedEx/UPS whereby the players cues are shipped before they play to an agreed destination beforehand & as part of that negotiation the players do not have to pay any over the top price for using such a service?

JIMO96 said...

I remember at the time Steve Davis being displeased about the "no cues as hand luggage" rule. To quote the great man: "it's not a dangerous item...what are they scared I'm gonna do with it, roll the pilot up behind the yellow?"

Anonymous said...

WS still dont have their calendar up for next season, which starts in a few weeks.
I wonder what their definition of "soon" is. Since last August the page is due to be updated "soon"

Anonymous said...

2.11 - More like 2 months - the Q School started in mid May last year with the first proper event qualifiers not starting until early June. I'm sure it will be announced before the start of the World Chp.

Anonymous said...

Remember the London Olympics last year - one of the big logistics companies moved all the sporting kit. I didn't hear about any ones javelin not turning up. "Global sport" or "boys club". All it needs is to spend some money.

also yes where is the 13-14 calendar? presumably the players themselves have a draft? "Global sport" or "boys club".

Anonymous said...

What about Lee.
Not a fan but, poor guy. He's gonna be mighty pissed if he's acquitted. Must have lost a fortune !

Anonymous said...

wheres the agipi blog dave?

Anonymous said...

12:42 - spot on. I'm not one to big up the old regime, but for that disastrous tournament in Bahrain they did manage to do some deal with DHL with sponsor boards in return for getting the table and set taken there. Surely there is room to do something similar.

Incidentally, have they ever looked at chartering for long haul tournaments? There must always be 20+ people heading out from the UK so surely there would be a case for hiring a small private plane (then they could do what they like with the cues).

Anonymous said...

Why don't they just put the cues on the same aeroplanes as the players?
What could be more simple?

Anonymous said...

Why not cut your cue into 4 pieces (with screw joints) and then you could pop it in your hand luggage along with your hair gel :)

wild said...

"What about Lee.
Not a fan but, poor guy. He's gonna be mighty pissed if he's acquitted. Must have lost a fortune !"

he will be overjoyed if hes found guilty !!

Anonymous said...

Of course the players themselves would never cause any sort of discomfort with their cues inside the plane but if carried as a hand baggage, someone or a group with dangerous intentions might take and use the cues as a weapon. Chances are very slim but you never know and this is the actual problem with the cues unfortunately. I am very much with the idea to see this as a sponsorship deal and leave it to professional hands as DHL.

Anonymous said...

Which is more dangerous in a plane - a trombone or clarinet(allowed) or snooker cue (not allowed)

Anonymous said...

Re 11:22 would it be possible to design a telescopic snooker cue, bit like a walking pole?

If so you could push it into itself and pop it in your jacket pocket.

Anonymous said...

Re 4:04

Snooker players are supposed to put the object ball into the pocket, not the cue.

Anonymous said...

At this rate the Stephen Lee announcement is going to be on the eve of the Worlds - not good! Get a move on WS.

Anonymous said...

Airport security in the UK is the most stringent in the world. That includes passenger security, baggage and cargo security and the security of all who have access to sensitive areas of airports. It may well seem as though there is a lack of common sense or consistency. I have been denied the opportunity of carrying my cue in the passenger cabin but have then been given stainless steel cutlery with which to eat my meal accompanied by a glass bottle of wine. I also stood behind a captain who questioned the need for his flight briefcase to be searched. "Just making sure there is nothing that could threaten the security of the aircraft or its passengers sir !"
To which he replied "I am the pilot. If the mood took me, I am quite capable of making sure that the passengers do or don't get to their destination safely".
Until the world is rid of those who are determined to cause harm then we all have to live with a certain degree of inconvenience.