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UK airports could scrap 100ml liquid hand luggage rule by 2024

UK airports could scrap 100ml liquid hand luggage rule by 2024
A passenger repacks her liquid goods at an airport on Nov 6, 2006. (File photo: AFP/Tor Wennstrom)

The United Kingdom could remove the 100ml limit for taking liquids through airport security by mid-2024 after the target installation of more advanced security scanners in all UK airports by then, according to reports by local media.

The policy is still under review and a formal announcement is expected in the coming weeks before Dec 25, said The Times, quoting officials.

Passengers are currently required to remove tablets, laptops and liquids from their carry-on bag. Liquids must not exceed 100ml and must be in a clear plastic bag. 

The rule was introduced 16 years ago after a terror plot to bring down seven passenger plane using explosives disguised as soft drinks was foiled. 

3D BAGGAGE SCREENING

Advanced Computed Tomography (CT) security scanners that will allow 3D baggage screening are driving the policy change.

These CT scanners produce a high-resolution 3D scan of passengers' bags, allowing operators to inspect a bag from every angle. Older machines only produce a 2D image of a suitcase, said The Times. 

According to the newspaper, The Department for Transport (DfT) has told UK's major airports that older screening technology must be replaced in full by the summer of 2024. 

The deadline for all major UK airports to have the technology was initially December 2022 but that was delayed by the pandemic.

The trial for these CT scanners was announced in 2019 by then-UK prime minister Boris Johnson. 

"The new 3D technology is said to use the most advanced imaging systems available in order to provide security personnel with better images of cabin baggage," Mr Johnson said in 2019.

"Once in place, the 100ml liquid limit may no longer apply and passengers could take liquids, like a bottle of water, through security."

Then-UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said the new screening equipment will "improve security and make the experience smoother and less stressful for passengers". 

TRIALLING NEW TECHNOLOGY

This 100ml rule was scrapped after the new technology was rolled out at Shannon airport in Ireland in March 2022.

"Water, baby food, medicines and other beverages, aerosol cans and toiletries like toothpaste, shaving cream, hair gel, lip gloss, and creams" are exempt from size limitations, said the airport.

Shannon airport also said the move has "halved the time our passengers spend going through security screening", according to The Times.

The new 3D baggage screening equipment is now being tested at Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

"We are slowly rolling them out," John Holland-Kaye, the chief executive of Heathrow, reported The Times. 

"We have just started the expansion of the security area in Terminal 3 which will have more CT scanners and have a deadline of mid-2024 from the DfT. By then, the normal passenger experience will be that liquids stay in bags," he added. 

In Jun 2019, Heathrow airport announced a £50 million (US$60.3 million) investment in high-tech kit that uses the same technology as CT scanners to asses whether any substance presents a threat, said The Independent.

Source: Agencies/st(rj)
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