Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash

Passengers will no longer have to suffer security limitations on liquids and electrical items when travelling from UK airports. At least not from 2024, following the government’s announcement of the “biggest shake-up of airport security rules in decades”. 

In a news release, the department of transport said:

The government had set a June 2024 deadline for airports to install new security technology, “spelling the eventual end to the 100-millilitre rule on liquids at large airports”.
In the future, passengers would be able to leave liquids and large electrical items in cabin luggage when going through security.
Changes would be gradual over the next two years, with current rules continuing to apply and passengers advised to check with airports and airlines before travelling.

According to the department, over the next two years, most major airports will be introducing cutting-edge systems into their security checkpoints, “ushering in a new era of improved security and passenger experience when going through departures”. Not only would this mean greater convenience for travellers, but it would also enhance passenger safety, “as security staff will have more detailed images of what people are carrying”.

In a statement accompanying the announcement, transport secretary Mark Harper said, “The tiny toiletry has become a staple of airport security checkpoints, but that’s all set to change. I’m streamlining cabin bag rules at airports while enhancing security. By 2024, major airports across the UK will have the latest security tech installed, reducing queuing times, improving the passenger experience, and most importantly detecting potential threats.  

“Of course, this won’t happen straight away – this is going to take two years to be fully implemented. Until then, passengers must continue following the existing rules and check before travelling.”

Passengers are currently required to remove tablets, laptops and liquids from their cabin baggage, while liquids have been limited to 100 millilitres and must be in a clear plastic bag. This requirement will eventually be lifted, and the 100-millilitre liquid container limit will be extended to two litres. 

“Airports now have until June 2024 to upgrade their screening equipment and processes. Until then, passengers must follow the same rules as now until further notice or unless told otherwise. Crucially, they should check with their specific airport before travelling to see which rules are in place. They should also check the rules for carrying liquids at any airport through which they may transfer during their journey and at their return airport, as many destinations may not have implemented this new technology.” 

Added Christopher Snelling, policy director at The Airport Operators Association (AOA), “This investment in next-generation security by the UK’s airport operators will provide a great step forward for UK air travel, matching the best in class around the world. It will make the journey through the UK’s airports easier and air travel itself more pleasant.

“The new deadline follows several trials conducted at some airports since 2018, which have demonstrated the effectiveness of this new screening equipment – which uses CT X-ray technology to essentially provide a 3D image of what’s in passengers’ bags, as well as deploying highly advanced threat detection algorithms. Similar technology is taking place in many countries globally, with airports such as Schiphol and in the US now also making use of the technology.

“It will further enhance our airports’ ability to detect prohibited items but with greater convenience for passengers. The current liquids rules, which were introduced in 2006 following a terrorist threat, have been designed to stop those with hostile intent carrying liquid explosives onto planes.”

In October, the Spanish government announced that tourists from non-EU countries including the UK could now travel to Murcia and other Spanish destinations without any COVID-19 restrictions.   

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