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UK airports could drop rules on liquids and laptop computers by 2024

Rules that mean passengers must remove liquids and laptops from hand luggage while going through airport security are said to be scrapped within the next two years.

The limit on taking more than 100ml of liquids through airport security in the UK will reportedly be ‘abolished’ by the summer of 2024.

Currently, security regulations mean that passengers taking liquids in their hand luggage are restricted to containers of up to 100ml, which must be placed in a clear plastic bag when going through airport security. But this rule could be eliminated within the next two years due to the introduction of high-tech 3D scanners.

Restrictions dictating that passengers must remove laptops from their cabin bags on departure are also reported.

The Times reports that the government’s Department for Transport has given major UK airports a mid-2024 deadline to install more advanced CT security scanners, similar to those used in hospitals, which will enable the change in policy. Ministers have been conducting a review, with the official announcement expected in the coming weeks.

It is hoped that this step will speed up the security queues, as not taking passengers out of their bags or traveling with large bottles of drinks and toiletries more than the maximum limit is the biggest reason for delays in airport security.

The limit on carrying more than 100ml of liquids through airport security in the UK will reportedly be ‘abolished’ by summer 2024. Credit: Getty Images

How long have the rules been applied?

The current rules were originally introduced in the aftermath of a foiled terrorist plot by Al Qaeda, which planned to attack seven planes departing Heathrow using soda-like explosives. ortunately, the accident was prevented — but there are still rules about removing laptops and liquids.

However, with the new scanners, which have been trialled at London Heathrow for three years, this will not be necessary. Whereas older machines only produced a two-dimensional image of baggage, new technology creates a high-resolution 3D image that enables security operators to zoom in on bag contents, rotate images, and see objects in better detail for examination.

What was said about the end of the rules?

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye told The Times: “We’re slowly rolling it out. We’ve just started expanding the security area in Terminal 3 which will hold more CT scanners and has a deadline of mid-2024 from [Department for Transport]. By then, the normal passenger experience will be for liquids to remain in the bags.”

Boris Johnson first announced a trial of the new technology in 2019, but its introduction at airports was delayed by the pandemic, when passenger numbers collapsed. At the time, then Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it could mean “an end to passengers having to use plastic bags or rationing what they take with them” if that works.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said plans for airport security were “under review”. Credit: Getty Images

But officials said the policy is still under review. Current Transport Secretary Mark Harper told Sky News: “I’m afraid you know our standard practice on security matters is that we don’t comment on security matters. I think that’s very important.

I am now responsible for setting up the security system for our aviation sector. So, if there are any changes coming, we will communicate them to people in due course. But for now, the system is the same with strict limits on the liquids people can take on planes.”

This technology has already been used at US airports such as Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, Georgia, and O’Hare in Chicago for a number of years. It was also introduced at Shannon Airport in Ireland this year, with the airport saying the move “cut down the time our passengers spent going through security”.

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