U.K. Travel—First London Airport To Drop 100ml Limit On Liquids

It’s one of the most stressful things about getting on a plane in the U.K.—that travelers have to limit liquids to small travel-size containers and that they have to get them out of hand luggage, along with electronics, when they go through security.

This April though, one London airport will become one of the first in the U.K. to make travelers’ lives a little easier—as London City airport scraps the 100ml rule on liquids.

It is not the first U.K. airport to drop the rule that has been in place since 2006—that was Teeside airport, earlier this year. The changes come after the U.K. government announced in December that it would start using new technology to scan passenger bags.

It is planning a deadline of August 2024 for all U.K. airports to follow the same procedures and trials have been in place at London Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham since 2018. In the U.S., Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson and Chicago’s O’Hare, amongst others, have been using this technology for years.

The new technology comes in the form of high-tech CT scanners, similar to those found in hospitals, making it completely unnecessary for travelers to unpack their bags as they head through security—any dangerous liquids in baggage can be identified in seconds by the machines which provide a 3D image, much like an x-ray. Current machines at most U.K. airports still only provide a 2D image.

Under the new regulations, travelers will be allowed up to 2 litres of liquids in their carry on luggage and travelers with laptops, kindles and other electronic equipment, will not need to take them out of their bags as they head through the scanners. It’s also the end of an era, as creams and make up won’t need to be placed in a transparent plastic bag.

It’s more good news for the city airport, whose traveler numbers have been steadily climbing—217,000 in January and 225,000 in February 2023—an increase of 82% on 2022 numbers.

The airport, in the east of London and popular with travelers to the financial district of England’s capital city, has already been trialing two high-tech security lanes. There are plans to have a third lane with a high-tech scanner in place by mid-March and a fourth up and running by the end of March—allowing thousands of tourists to enter and leave the country without taking their liquids out of their bags and cases during the upcoming school holidays.

The rules were brought into place in 2006 after a foiled terrorist attack where a group tried to bring hydrogen peroxide-derived explosives onto planes inside soft drink bottles.

London City’s Chief Executive Robert Sinclair said that the new lanes would cut both the hassle and the queues, something he said that passengers would love.

It remains to be seen what happens to the industry surrounding the production of mini travel products that has thrived since the rules were put in place in 2006. The global travel size toiletries market was expected to grow at an annual rate of 4.5% to reach $3.2 billion in 2030 as more and more travelers look for convenient travel-sized toiletries and a change in the U.K.’s security procedure may have an impact.

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