Airport scanner technology could end the 100ml liquid limit • The Register

Everyone remembers the outrage of having to throw away water, shampoo and toothpaste because some far-fetched airport security rules flew over them. But the days of clear plastic bags and the rush to buy “travel-size” toiletries may be coming to an end.

According to a report in The timesThe ban on carrying liquids over 100ml on flights will be lifted with a 2024 deadline for major UK airports to install CT security scanners.

The registry spoke to people close to them who confirmed that work is underway to get rid of the 100ml limit by that date.

As a serious long-haul transport hub, connecting Europe with Africa and the Middle East, a change in UK airport policy will be a big boost for international travelers – if it can clear the baggage mess. Travelers to far away places via London airports complained to the reg this baggage had been lost for days, and even those transferring “airside” (e.g. from the EU to the US) are currently subject to double liquid checks and baggage scans when moving from terminal to terminal, with some their flights are almost lost.

The technology currently being tested allows luggage to be examined in three dimensions instead of the 2D X-ray images you see when you look over the shoulder of security personnel. This improvement apparently avoids the need to minimize the amount of liquid carried and to separate the electronics from the rest of a traveler’s luggage.

The new scanners are being tested at Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham. The introduction of the technology at Shannon in Ireland this year “halved the time our passengers spend going through security,” the airport told The Times.

Now, major UK airports have been told by the Department for Transport that older screening technology will need to be replaced by the summer of 2024. A formal announcement is expected in the coming weeks.

“We’re rolling them out slowly,” said John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive. “We have just started expanding the security area in Terminal 3, which will have more CT scanners and has a mid-2024 deadline from the DfT. Until then, the normal experience of passengers will be that liquids remain in bags.”

Perhaps to avoid crowds without their essential plastic bag, the Department for Transport stressed in a statement this morning: “Passengers at UK airports are not allowed to carry containers of liquids larger than 100ml through security and both liquids and electronics should be taken out of hand luggage at the Airport security checks.”

While the cause of some security queue breaks has been far from draconian, the Liquid Rule had a basis in a foiled 2006 terrorist attack that would have been the worst al-Qaeda attack in the West since 9/11.

Britain’s largest surveillance operation revealed that a number of British-born men who were in contact with the terrorist organization’s leadership were plotting to detonate peroxide-based liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks in up to 10 passenger planes over the Atlantic bound for the United States.

In August 2006, 24 suspects were arrested in and around London. Of the nine men eventually charged with conspiracy, two were acquitted and seven convicted.

The revelation sent shockwaves through the commercial airline industry. Immediately after the defeat of the conspiracy, hand luggage was completely banned. As rules were gradually relaxed, a total liquid ban remained until November, when the 100ml limit was introduced.

What was intended as a temporary measure is still in effect 16 years later. ® Airport scanner technology could end the 100ml liquid limit • The Register

Rick Schindler

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