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Airport security's 100ml liquid rule change faces delays across UK

The 100ml limit on liquids at airports is set to continue through the summer holidays at the UK's biggest transport hubs will miss the deadline for installing new advanced scanners.

UK airports were supposed to have the new equipment ready to use by June 1 2024.

But Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted all said they do not expect to have their scanners ready by then.

Under airport security rules, travellers are not allowed to take liquids containers of more than 100ml in their hand luggage.

All liquids must also be declared in a clear bag 20cm x 20cm.

The rules were brought in after a terrorist plot was foiled in 2006.

The new advanced scanners, which uses CT X-ray technology to generate 3D images, means the limits will be lifted to two litres and items will not need to be removed from bags. Laptops can also go through the scanners inside bags.

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The changes should speed up security queues and delays for passengers.

Airports were first told to introduce the scanners by 2022, but the deadline was extended to June 2024.

However, while some smaller airports are now compliant, the biggest ones say the rollout won't be complete until 2025.

Some put this down to the sheer weight of the new scanners meaning floors need to be reinforced. Others have had to expand security areas to make way for the new machines.

The size of some airports with multiple terminals mean the number of scanners they need is vast and come at great expense.

The cost is also hard to meet for smaller airports who nearly went out of business during Covid.

Which UK airports don't have 100ml liquid rule?

Some UK airports have already rolled out advanced scanners meaning the 100ml liquid rule does not apply there.

They are:

  • London City Airport
  • Teesside International Airport

This means people travelling through these airports can take up to two litres of liquid through and do not need to separate them.

Liquids and electricals can remain in bags when going through the scanners.

Others airports say they will have scanners in place for all passengers by the June 2024 deadline. They are:

  • London Luton Airport
  • Aberdeen International Airport
  • Southampton Airport
  • Glasgow Airport
  • Bristol Airport

Warning! Although UK airports may have the scanners, they may not be in use at the destination airport, so it's worth checking before your return journey.

Manchester Airport, Stansted Airport and East Midlands Airport 100ml liquid rule

Manchester Airport Group, which owns Manchestser, Stansted and East Midlands airports, said scanners were being introduced "lane by lane".

It said "good progress" was being made and some scanners would be in operation by the deadline but the rollout would not be complete until 2025.

It said it was "a complex programme of work requiring the expansion of terminal facilities, while at the same time maintaining operations during construction”.

A spokesperson said: “We are currently rolling out the new technology lane-by-lane at Manchester and London Stansted airports, with several new lanes already in operation.

"Work is also underway on major construction projects at both Manchester and East Midlands airports to expand the size of the terminals to accommodate the new equipment.

"This will see the new scanners in place on a large number of our security lanes by June 2024, with the full completion of the programme expected the following year.”

Heathrow Airport 100ml liquid rule

Heathrow Airport said it was spending £1 billion upgrading its equipment which will cover 146 security lanes across four terminals.

It said it had more security lanes than all other UK airports combined.

A spokesperson said: “Our teams are focused on delivering the programme as quickly as practically possible. We already have new lanes in T2, T5 and T3.

“Heathrow has more security lanes than all other UK airports and so installing the new lanes across the whole airport was always going to be complex. Other large UK airports face similar challenges, but their transitions will still be less complex.”

Gatwick Airport 100ml liquid rule

Gatwick Airport will have some scanners in operation by June 1 2024, but won't have fully rolled out its machines until 2025.

A spokesperson said: “London Gatwick will have made significant progress installing state of the art next generation security scanners by June 2024 in both terminals.

“We currently plan to have completed the major logistical operation required to install the remaining scanners in Q1 2025, after the busy summer peak period has concluded.”

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Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.


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