Confusion as airport hand luggage restrictions are re-imposed

An abrupt government U-turn to once again restrict passengers carrying liquids in hand luggage through UK airports will only create uncertainty and lead to more delays.

The warning from consumer group Which? followed the Department for Transport announcing late last Friday that it was reintroducing limits on liquids from yesterday (Sunday).

The surprise edict came despite airports racing to introduce new generation scanners enabling passengers to carry up to two litres of liquids and not take laptops out while passing through security.


MorePassenger confusion over airport liquids rules ‘will cause delays’ [Apr 24]


No detailed explanation was given for reintroducing the limits on liquids at six airports where new scanning equipment has been introduced.

The DfT said: “From 0001 on Sunday 9th 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.

“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.”

The transport department pointed out that this was only a change for passengers flying from Newcastle, Leeds/Bradford, London City, Aberdeen, Southend and Teesside airports, “which represent around 6% of UK air passengers”. 

Other airports had made no change to the rules on carrying liquids introduced in 2006 after a plot was discovered to blow up transatlantic aircraft.

This DfT described the move as a “routine measure” and not in response to a specific threat.

But chaotic scenes of two hour-long queues of passengers at Birmingham airport were recorded on social media over the weekend.

An airport spokesperson said the queues had built up because of the re-imposition of the ban on carrying liquids greater than 100ml in hand luggage.

The spokesperson told the Telegraph: “Our new security area was designed and resourced to accommodate the increase to two litres being carrying in cabin baggage. This cannot be operated with the temporary restriction.”

Birmingham airport had previously said it expected to raise the 100ml limit to two litres from June 1, bringing it in line with the six other airports using new scanners.    

Chief executive Nick Barton told the BBC: “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.

“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 times for customers.”   

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “The rules around travelling with liquids in carry on bags are becoming increasingly confusing – with different rules at different airports.

“As we enter the busiest travel period of the year, this announcement will only add to passengers uncertainty – and may lead to further delays.

“Travellers should check the latest liquid rules for the airport they are departing from before travelling, to avoid being caught out at security.”

Airports were granted deadline extensions in April of up to a year for the installation of high-tech security scanners that would allow passengers to keep liquids and laptops in their hand luggage.

The government had previously set a deadline of June 1 for all major airports to introduce computed tomography (CT) scanners that create 3D images.

But the DfT said at the time it had recognised the challenges involved in installing the equipment, prompting it to approve deadline extensions of up to 12 months on a case-by-case basis.

MorePassenger confusion over airport liquids rules ‘will cause delays’ [Apr 24]

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