Photographer Noel Patterson was set to travel to Reykjavik, on Icelandair, when the innocent photo accessory raised the concern of Manchester Airport security staff.

The air blower device, similar to the one pictured, is used to help keep camera gear free of dust and dirt. They are widely available from photographic stores.

Noel, a sports photographer from Buxton, Derbyshire, said of the 20 August incident: ‘My camera bag was scanned and the blower identified as the problem.

‘The guard went to the supervisor to check and then said that any object that could be held up and look like a grenade was prohibited – even though everyone obviously knew it wasn’t.’

The photographer, whose final destination was Denver in the US, added: ‘While I was aware that you now have to be able to switch on all devices, if asked to do so, I did not know there was a restriction on carrying items that could be considered to look like a grenade.

‘I had the option of going back through security and posting it back home. Otherwise, it would be confiscated – which was the only practical choice.’

A Manchester Airport spokesman told Amateur Photographer it was not possible to comment on this specific incident because the staff on duty at the time were not available today.

Speaking in general terms, however, the airport spokesman said: ‘We recommend passengers do not carry items through security that look like, or could resemble, weapons.

‘Whether these be lighters shaped like guns or even pieces of kit or electrical items that could potentially look threatening, they will more than likely be confiscated in line with current regulations.’

The spokesman added: ‘During these heightened times, we advise all passengers to be ready for security and to work with our staff who are on hand to help and assist.’

Manchester Airport’s list of banned items, published on its website, makes no mention of dust blowers.

Items prohibited from the aircraft cabin currently include toy or replica guns and non-foldable umbrellas.