Is this the end of the 100ml liquid rule for hand luggage?

December 9, 2022

By Anna Hardy

The days of overpriced mini toiletries and long airport security queues could soon be over! According to The Times, the 100ml restriction on liquids carried in hand luggage is due to be scrapped in UK airports by 2024 – and it’s all thanks to new scanning technology.

Here’s what you need to know.

What does it mean for passengers?

The changes will mean you can carry any amount of liquid in your hand luggage - something passengers haven’t been able to do since 2006 when the restrictions were first introduced as an anti-terrorism measure.

As it stands, liquids over 100ml are among the things that cannot be carried in hand luggage. The current rules also limit the amount of individual liquid items to a maximum of ten per person, all of which must fit in one 20cm x 20cm clear plastic bag.

With the policy update, you’ll be able to carry what you need onboard, including full-sized toiletries, make-up and bottled drinks - a glimpse at greater freedom when planning and packing your short-haul luggage.

However, it’s worth remembering that airlines will keep up their strict hand luggage allowances. As always, it will pay to check the hand luggage size and weight restrictions before loading up your bags with heavy full-sized shampoos and lotions.

How will it work?

New 3D baggage screening equipment will replace the older 2D image machines currently used in UK airports.

The Times report explains that these advanced CT scanners “produce a high-resolution 3D scan of passengers’ bags, allowing operators to inspect a bag from every angle”. This means that liquids could be accurately inspected without needing to remove them from your bag.

The news is said to “prove a gamechanger” for airport security and would no doubt increase the chances of a stress-free airport experience for passengers.

What does it mean for airports?

The changes are set to significantly reduce queuing times in airport security. Currently, removing items from your bags for scanning (or failing to do so) and carrying liquids that don’t meet the requirements are the greatest causes of delays at airport security. It's a time consuming process for passengers and security staff who must re-scan or manually search flagged items.

With the change, you will no longer need to separate any liquids from your luggage during security screening or contain them within a plastic bag – a win for both queuing time and the environment.

Will this be the case at all airports?

The new 3D scanners are currently being tested at Heathrow and Gatwick airports with the aim to roll them out across all major UK airports by 2024.

Shannon Airport in Ireland has also trialled the new scanning equipment this year. According to airport bosses, ditching the 100ml liquid rule is said to have “halved the time” passengers spend going through security screening.

Whether there will be a requirement for this new technology to be installed in smaller regional UK airports is yet to be confirmed.

When will it take effect?

The Times says that “the Department for Transport (DfT) has told the UK’s major airports that older screening technology must be replaced in full by the summer of 2024.”

Work to meet this deadline is already underway. As John Holland-Kaye, the chief executive of Heathrow, told The Times: “We have just started the expansion of the security area in Terminal 3 which will have more CT scanners.”

While it’s an exciting prospect for the future of travel, it’s important to remember that the 100ml rule is still in place for now. You may also hear mixed messages in the lead-up to 2024.

“As the scanners become more commonplace it will be the case that in some lanes passengers are told not to take stuff out their bags while in other lanes they will still need to,” an aviation source for The Times said. “The 100ml rule will stay in place until the rollout of the new technology is complete and is a decision for the DfT.”

An announcement on the new policy, which is currently under review, is expected towards the end of December.

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