It’s one of the most frustrating things about traveling by plane, but at two U.K. airports it is no longer necessary to follow the rule that all liquids must be in containers less than 100ml—and like an increasing number of airports around the world, all other U.K. airports will follow, with a deadline of June 2024.
It’s becoming possible because of a new generation of CT X-Ray scanners (similar to the ones used in hospitals) that now mean security can see much more about the insides of your carry-on bags—receiving 3D images to check, rather than the previous 2D images. These scans can flag potentially dangerous liquids without travelers having to remove everything from their bags.
The good news is that it won’t be necessary to remove laptops and other electronic devices from luggage either—these currently have to be scanned separately—and passengers will be able to take up to 2 litres of liquids and gels. Additionally, because there isn’t the need to remove everything, lines will move much faster and the whole security process will be generally less stressful.
A trial began in 2017 at London’s Heathrow airport and after positive results, U.K. ministers agreed new legislation in 2022. Transport Secretary Mark Harper said at the time that “the tiny toiletry has become a staple of airport security checkpoints, but that’s all set to change.” The U.K. government called this the biggest shakeup in airport security in decades.
The rule came into place 17 years ago, after a failed terrorist attempt in 2006 to blow up what the British police believed to be as many as 10 planes. British security found hydrogen peroxide in soft drinks bottles, which they believed the carriers were planning to turn into bombs once on the plane.
London’s City Airport believed it would be the first U.K. airport to be free of the 100ml rule in time for the Easter holiday in April 2023 but it was beaten to first place by Teeside International airport—these are the two British airports where the 100ml rule has been lifted. By late 2023, Liverpool and Luton airports will follow. All other main airports—Aberdeen, Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Manchester, Southampton, Southend and Stansted—will comply with the government deadline and be ready by June 2024.
In addition to less stress passing through security at the outset of any getaway, there is the added bonus of having a little more time to peruse the shops or grab a bite to eat, a plus that airports have been quick to identify.
The return journey might not be as stress-free, however, if the destination airports don’t use the same 3D scanners—many airports around the world do not. Any flight between the U.K. and either Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, Miami International airport or Leonardo da Vinci International airport in Rome, who currently use the newer 3D scanners, would allow travelers to go and return without adhering to the rule. Across Europe, however, not many of the 347 major airports are using the new scanners.
Travelers should check if the destination airport is using these new scanners, or they may be forced to place carry-on luggage in the hold in order to keep beloved lotions and potions.