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When will the 100ml airport liquids limit be banished from UK airports?

Airport 100ml liquid bag
Thanks to new 3D technology, passengers will no longer be required to stick to 100ml liquid limits - Getty

British holidaymakers face a summer of confusion, as the Department for Transport has instructed all airports to revert to old 100ml liquid rules – despite the fact that many airports now have new 3D scanners in operation.

In December 2022, the Government ordered all UK airports to roll out a new generation of high-tech security scanners, meaning passengers boarding flights from UK airports would no longer need to adhere to the strict 100ml hand luggage liquid limits, which have been in place since 2006.

The new scanners will enable passengers to travel with liquids up to two litres per container – additionally, you will no longer need to remove liquids from your hand luggage at security. Laptops and tablets will also be able to remain in the bag.

Some smaller airports (see full list below) had successfully introduced the new scanners by the June 2024 deadline, but a number of the UK’s bigger airports have now been given an extension to 2025 as they failed to hit the deadline.

However, on Sunday June 9, the Department for Transport instructed those airports that have introduced the new scanners to revert to pre-existing 100ml liquid rules, amid concerns that the checks weren’t secure enough. Confused? Here’s everything you need to know about airport liquid rules, and when they are likely to be lifted.

What is the latest Government advice on airport liquids?

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “From 0001 on Sunday June 9 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.

“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. For most passengers, security measures will remain unchanged.

“Passengers should continue to check security requirements with their departure airport before travelling.”

This means that, until advised otherwise, anyone flying out of any UK airport this summer must continue to follow the pre-existing 100ml liquid rules. It is unknown when this instruction will be overturned.

Karen Dee, chief executive of the AOA, said the change had been made with “very little notice” and “created uncertainty” for travellers “just as airports enter their busiest periods of the year”.

Passenger Puts Liquids Into Bag At Airport Security Check
Travellers will soon be able to say goodbye to the plastic bag at security - Getty

Which airports have the new scanners in place?

In early 2023, London City Airport and Teesside International Airport became the first British airports to roll out the cutting-edge scanners, enabling passengers to board flights without removing liquid miniatures or electronics from their bags.

Newcastle, Leeds Bradford, Aberdeen and Southend have also introduced the new scanners and had relaxed their rules on liquids prior to the DfT’s latest advisory.

Birmingham Airport also completed the roll-out of the new scanners in May 2024, but with a partial regulatory limit, so it had not rolled out the new, more relaxed rules. In recent days the airport has seen lengthy queues outside the terminal, which have been blamed on confusion around the liquid allowance. EasyJet has advised passengers flying from Birmingham to arrive an hour earlier than usual, to ensure they don’t miss their flight.

Bristol says the new scanners will be operational from June 14, Luton Airport says roll-out is in its “final phase”, while Belfast City and Belfast International airports both also said that installation was in its final stages.

What about Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester?

The Telegraph contacted all of the UK’s international airports for a status update. Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted confirmed that while progress had been made in installing the new security lanes, the full programme would not be completed until later in 2024 or early 2025. All other regional airports said progress was underway and to follow existing rules, for now.

I’m flying soon, what should I do?

Passengers should adhere to the existing liquid rules until informed otherwise. This means carrying liquids no greater than 100ml, and removing them from your hand luggage in a see-through bag at security.

ABTA has warned holidaymakers and business travellers to prepare for trips by following existing rules for hand luggage and airport security. A spokesperson said: “Our best advice is to prepare for your travels with the existing rules in mind. That way, you’ll be ready to comply whatever the scenario, avoiding any unnecessary delays through security and any difficulties when returning from your destination.”

Which airports overseas have the technology in place?

Amsterdam Schiphol, Helsinki, Frankfurt, Rome Fiumicino, Milan (both Linate and Malpensa), Cork and Shannon are among the European airports to have rolled out the new technology. However, not all have scrapped their 100ml liquids limit; Amsterdam, for example, still recommends that liquids should be divided into 100ml containers or else could be confiscated.

Dublin, Madrid Barajas, Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona El-Prat plan to follow later in the year, and Paris-Orly and Geneva have been trialling the tech in recent months. A number of other airports, like Munich and Malaga, have 2025 or 2026 as scheduled completion dates. Further afield, many airports in the USA, the Middle East and the Far East have had the tech in place for years.

Why does the 100ml liquid limit exist?

The in-flight liquid limit was introduced in 2006 after British police foiled an Islamist terror plot to detonate explosives on transatlantic flights. They planned to smuggle liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks in their hand luggage, in what would have been the deadliest terror attack since 9/11. After the foiled plot, the Government raised the terror threat from “severe” to “critical” and as a precautionary measure banned hand luggage on all planes.

The hand luggage allowance was soon relaxed, but the liquid ban remained – not just in Britain but in countries around the world. To this day, you cannot get through UK airport security checks with any liquids over 100ml in volume, and any that do meet regulations must be sealed in a transparent resealable bag. But that is all changing.

Which liquids will I be able to take on a plane?

All liquids, including creams, cosmetics, aerosols and alcohol will be allowed on board. However, note that explosive, toxic or flammable liquids are not permitted in either hand or hold luggage.

This story was first published in March 2023 and has been revised and updated.

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