UK relaxing security rules on liquid and electrics in bags

New rules in place everywhere by June 2024

The rules about taking liquids and electrical items through security at UK airports are set to change with the introduction of CT scanners.

The government has set a deadline of June 2024 for UK airports to introduce security systems where passengers do not have to remove liquids and electric items from bags.

Passengers will no longer have to mess around with up to 10 x 100ml plastic bottles in a little see through plastic bag. And no longer have to do a juggling act taking their laptops out.

It also means the scramble to find those items and put them all back in their baggage goes away.

The current liquids rules, introduced in 2006, were designed to stop the bad folk carrying liquid explosives onto planes.

Passengers are currently required to remove tablets, laptops and liquids from their cabin baggage. Liquids are limited to 100ml and must be in a clear plastic bag.

This requirement will eventually be lifted, and the 100ml liquid container limit will be extended to 2 litres. 

Improved security

As well as enhancing the passenger experience, the new systems will improve security as staff will have more detailed images of what people are carrying.

The CT scanners use CT X-ray technology to essentially provide a 3D image of what’s in passengers’ bags.

For example, security staff can manipulate the image on screen to get a better view of a bag’s contents. The systems can automatically detect explosives, including liquids.

Security staff can rotate images to see better [Image: Smiths Industries]

Over the next 2 years, most major UK airports will introduce the new systems into their security checkpoints.

The deadline follows trials at some UK airports since 2018, which have demonstrated the effectiveness of the new screening equipment.

Heathrow started trial with CT scanners some years ago.

The government is laying new legislation today which will make it easier to streamline the processes that apply to UK airports in the future.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper: 

The tiny toiletry has become a staple of airport security checkpoints, but that’s all set to change. I’m streamlining cabin bag rules at airports while enhancing security.  

By 2024, major airports across the UK will have the latest security tech installed, reducing queuing times, improving the passenger experience, and most importantly detecting potential threats.  

Of course, this won’t happen straight away – this is going to take 2 years to be fully implemented. Until then, passengers must continue following the existing rules and check before travelling.

Airports have until June 2024 to upgrade their screening equipment and processes.

London City (LCY) announced last month they are introducing CT scanners from April 2023.

Airports with CT scanners

Many U.S. airports – large and small – already use CT scanners. Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Lihue, Boise, Pittsburgh and more already have them

Tokyo, Istanbul, Rome Leonardo da Vinci, Shannon and Amsterdam Schiphol all have CT scanners.

A little girl prays to end the horrendous wait to get through Schiphol security

Schiphol though is a warning about how the systems can make matters worse.

I’ve used the CT scanners twice at Schiphol. On both trips it was good not to take staff out of bags. BUT, the queues were far longer and the overall time I took was much longer than before.

One reason is that – on those trips – at least 50% of all bags were selected for extra hand checks.

The passenger scanner was so sensitive it picked up a bank note in my pocket meaning I had to go through again. Many people had to do the same and that led to queues.

Let’s hope the UK airports learn from the Schiphol mess.

N.B. Image credits: Smiths Industries and

Internet links

UK Department for Transport