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Madrid, SPAIN: Travellers repack their wash bags following EU-wide hand luggage rules that came into effect, 06 November 2006. The new regulations allow limited amounts of liquid to be taken on board, such as toothpaste and hair gel, as long as they do not exceed 100 millilitres. AFP PHOTO/BRU GARCIA (Photo credit should read BRU GARCIA/AFP via Getty Images)

Airports lift the liquids ban

Airports lift the liquids ban


London City Airport is the latest to scrap the 100 millilitre liquid rule for hand luggage. When will others follow suit?

“Getting through airport security with liquids can be somewhat stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. In this video, Ii’m going to break down…” 

Youtube, Away Together w/ Nik and Allie

It’s an experience that holidaymakers recognise all too well.

Buying tiny shampoo bottles, stuffing small containers into transparent bags at the airport, having your water bottle confiscated at security… It’s all part of what it takes to meet strict hand luggage requirements at UK airports.

But all of that might be coming to an end soon…

“A UK airport has scrapped the 100 millilitres liquid limit by using high-tech scanners.” 

Breaking News / World News

In March, Teesside Airport in the North of England introduced new CT security scanners, which allow travellers to carry liquids in their hand luggage in containers of up to 2 litres. 

And now, London’s City Airport has followed suit. 

“You can now leave everything in your bag. So you no longer have to take out your laptop, for example, and you’re no longer restricted to 100 ml of liquid in the small containers, and you no longer have to put your liquids in a bag. So all of that’s gone away and you can now just leave everything in your bag.” 

Alison Fitzgerald, London City Airport COO, Moneycontrol

The scanners use advanced x-ray technology to produce layered 3D images that can be tilted and rotated by security personnel. This makes it easier for them to recognise the items inside people’s hand luggage. 

The machines also have better explosives detection capabilities. 

All of this means the existing liquid and electronics rules should become a thing of the past.


Shannon Airport in the West of Ireland was the first European country to introduce the scanners over a year ago. 

And now, in the UK, it seems like these changes are gathering speed, because the government recently set a deadline for all airports to install new security technology by June 2024. They called it the “biggest shake-up of airport security rules in decades”.

London City Airport is the first major transport hub to adopt the 3D scanners, meaning others – like Manchester, Heathrow and Edinburgh – are likely to follow soon.

But… why was the rule introduced in the first place? And why has it taken so long for things to change?


“It’s a catastrophic scenario which the aviation industry is desperately trying to guard against. The threat to aircraft from liquid bombs has meant tough security checks at airports around the world.”

Sky News

Security restrictions have been in place for almost 17 years – since 2006, when London’s Metropolitan police discovered a terrorist plot to bring down at least seven transatlantic flights. 

“It was an audacious plan which, had it succeeded, would have killed thousands and crippled air travel worldwide.”

Sky News

Members of al-Qaeda were planning to make improvised explosive devices using liquids hidden in soft drinks bottles. When they uncovered the plot, UK and US authorities immediately banned all liquids on flights, with the exception of baby food.

Three months later, those rules were relaxed to allow 100 millilitre quantities – and most countries followed suit. 

It’s taken nearly two decades for new technology to shake up the old travel rules, and that’s mostly because these changes are expensive. CT scanners cost about £200,000 each.

But the benefits are clear. Experts predict that the scanners will speed up airport queues and reduce bottlenecks at security – meaning shorter waiting times, and fewer people missing their flights.

If there are no delays to the deadline, it will be just over a year until all UK airports are kitted out with the scanners. 

Until then, passengers are advised to keep following the existing rules.

This episode was written and mixed by Patricia Clarke.