Airport security U-turn: passengers face 100ml liquids rule again over equipment concerns

Airport security U turn passengers face 100ml liquids rule again over equipment concerns
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Ministers have ordered an astonishing emergency u-turn on airport security, following concerns about new equipment that allows passengers to keep liquids in their hand luggage.


Airports with the new scanners have been ordered to reimpose old rules from midnight on Saturday, meaning travellers they will be limited to 100ml containers.

The Independent understands that a range of concerns have been raised about the new equipment, which is also in use at overseas airports such as Amsterdam, and Shannon in Ireland.

While security has never been compromised, a number of airports using the new scanners have experienced long queues – due to a higher-than-expect rejection rate as security officers carry out hand searches.


The government has told airports with ‘Next Generation Security Checkpoints’ – which were supposed to end the hassle of placing toiletries in clear plastic bags for separate screening – to revert to the old rules on liquids, aerosols and gels.


“This temporary move is to enable further improvements to be made to the new checkpoint systems and will only affect a small number of passengers,” the Department for Transport (DfT) said in a surprise statement on Friday evening. “For most passengers, security measures will remain unchanged.”


It said only passengers travelling from London City, Newcastle, Leeds/Bradford, Aberdeen, Southend, and Teesside airports would be affected.

However, London Luton has the new equipment in operation, as do some parts of Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted. The Independent has asked for clarification.

A DfT spokesperson said: “From 0001 on Sunday 9 June 2024, 100ml restrictions on liquids will temporarily be reintroduced for passengers travelling from six regional airports where Next Generation Security Checkpoints (NGSC) are in full operation.”


The introduction of new equipment had already been long delayed. A target was set in 2022 had been set for having the scanners at all airports from this month, but officials admitted earlier this year that the deadline would not be met.

The restrictions were introduced overnight in 2006 following the liquid bomb plot on a transatlantic flight.

The last-minute move comes after Birmingham Airport reimposed the old 100ml limit, following complaints about the length of queues for security, with some missing flights. However, the airport says passengers need not carry the liquids in a separate bag.

Nick Barton, chief executive of Birmingham Airport said: “Since opening our new security area, and despite being one of the first UK airports to comply, we have been limited on the use of our multi-million-pound equipment due to an outstanding regulatory restriction meaning we had to limit liquids to 100ml. This rule has now been implemented nationwide.

“Despite the 100ml rule still being in place, we continually have non-compliant bags with liquids over the allowance which have led to inefficiencies of our equipment and resulted in extended queuing time for customers.

“It is now imperative that all customers comply with the nationwide rule to ensure a smoother and simpler transition through the airport. A non-compliant bag with liquids over 100ml can add up to 20 minutes to each passenger’s journey through security.

“All travelling customers should check their hand luggage to ensure it complies with this restriction.”

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