End of air travel liquid restrictions?

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End of air travel liquid restrictions?

August 05, 2018 - 20:51
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New scanner to free travellers from hassle of removing liquids from hand luggage.

Bottle in a clear bag

A new scanner could soon be utilized at UK airports freeing travellers from removing gadgets and liquids from hand luggage at security. London Heathrow is currently conducting trials with the new scanner technology that will last between six and 12 months. Able to detect explosives, the scanners allow security staff to assess items, including liquids, without removing them from bags.

During the trials, some passengers will be exempt removing their laptops or the small quantities of water, shampoo and sunscreen from their luggage. There is no word on whether the new scanners would lead to a change in liquid restrictions. Theoretically, if staff can be alerted to threats in 100ml of liquids, it could do so in any volume.

All liquids must currently be placed in containers no larger than 100ml and then put in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which can only hold a litre. Only some medicines, baby food and items of special dietary requirement are exempt.

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Back in 2016, the new equipment using CT (computerized tomography) technology was tested at airports in the US, beginning in conjunction with American Airlines at Phoenix, Arizona. The latest 3D scanners have already been tested at Amsterdam Schiphol and John F Kennedy in New York and are already used on hold luggage at several airports. The EU has been keen to lift the restrictions for some time, but a deadline has been pushed back several times.

“I would understand more if there was a total ban than a restriction,” said Philip Baum, editor of Aviation Security International. “It just demonstrates that governments, and not just the UK government, but governments around the world, want to have tick-box security – they don’t want screeners to apply their common sense.”

The trial is currently underway at a small number of security lanes in one of Heathrow Airport’s five terminals. Airlines have previously stressed there must be a consistent approach across all airports before the rules are eased, citing different policies would create chaos.

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