UK revises carry-on rules for 6 airports

Restrictions on carrying liquids over 100ml in hand luggage are being temporarily reintroduced at some regional airports in the UK. Starting from 00:01 BST on Sunday, June 9, 2024, passengers at Newcastle, Leeds Bradford, London City, Aberdeen, Southend, and Teesside airports will be affected by this change. These airports, which had previously eliminated the 100ml liquid rule after implementing advanced CT scanners at their Next Generation Security Checkpoints (NGSC), will now reintroduce the restrictions to “enable further improvements to be made to the new checkpoint systems,” according to the Department for Transport. This reintroduction is not in response to any specific threat.

Most UK airports, such as London Gatwick, Heathrow, and Manchester, still have the 100ml liquid restrictions in place as they have not yet upgraded to the new scanners. Passengers flying from the affected smaller airports are advised to pack liquids in hold luggage whenever possible to avoid delays. Liquids in hand luggage must not exceed 100ml. A spokesperson for Newcastle International Airport mentioned efforts to minimize disruption.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper urged passengers to check airport websites for specific rules before traveling, emphasizing that for most passengers, the rules remain unchanged. He clarified that the temporary measure is to facilitate “changes” to the scanning equipment and will be reversed in due course.

The UK government initially mandated all airports to upgrade to the new scanners by 2022, but this deadline was extended to June 1, 2024. Some major airports were permitted to miss this rollout date due to the extensive physical changes needed to accommodate the new scanners, which are larger and heavier than the older versions.

The six smaller airports had met the deadline and had removed the 100ml rule. Teesside Airport, the first UK airport to drop the 100ml limit after significant investment in the new technology, expressed pride in the smoother passenger journey it enabled. However, the airport acknowledged and pledged compliance with the Department for Transport’s announcement.

Birmingham Airport, although equipped with the new scanners, has retained the 100ml rule due to pending regulatory approval. Passengers at Birmingham do not have to remove liquids up to 100ml from hand luggage during security checks. Airports that missed the installation deadline can apply for extensions, potentially extending the restrictions until June 2025. The Civil Aviation Authority has indicated that financial penalties may be imposed on airports missing these deadlines.

Consumer group Which? had previously warned in January that extending the restrictions could cause confusion during the summer holidays. The original liquid rules, requiring liquids in containers of 100ml or less to be carried in a clear plastic bag, were introduced in 2006 after a foiled plot to bomb a transatlantic flight. The new CT X-ray scanners provide 3D images, allowing items to remain inside bags and permitting liquids up to two liters. However, supply chain issues and major construction work have delayed the installation of these scanners, which require significant structural adjustments due to their weight.

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