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Airport security U-turn: passengers face 100ml liquids rule again over equipment concerns

Simon Calder’s Travel

Ministers have ordered an astonishing emergency U-turn on airport security following concerns about new equipment that allows passengers to keep liquids in their hand luggage.

Airports with the new scanners have been ordered to reimpose old rules from midnight on Saturday, meaning that travellers will be limited to carrying 100ml containers for liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs).

The Independent understands that a range of concerns have been raised about the new equipment, which is also in use at overseas airports such as Schiphol in Amsterdam and Shannon in Ireland.

While security has never been compromised, a number of airports using the new scanners have experienced long queues due to a higher-than-expected rejection rate, as security officers carry out hand searches. Sources have told The Independent that harmless liquids such as sunscreen have been misidentified as high threat subtances.

The government has told airports with “next generation security checkpoints” – which were supposed to end the hassle of removing toiletries in clear plastic bags for separate screening – to revert to the old rules on liquids, aerosols and gels. Electronics such as laptops are unaffected.

“This temporary move is to enable further improvements to be made to the new checkpoint systems and will only affect a small number of passengers,” the Department for Transport (DfT) said in a surprise statement on Friday evening. “For most passengers, security measures will remain unchanged.”

It said only passengers travelling from London City, Newcastle, Leeds Bradford, Aberdeen, Southend, and Teesside airports would be affected.

A DfT spokesperson said: “From 0001 on Sunday 9 June 2024, 100ml restrictions on liquids will temporarily be reintroduced for passengers travelling from six regional airports where Next Generation Security Checkpoints (NGSC) are in full operation.”

The introduction of new equipment had already been long delayed. A target was set in 2022 to have the scanners at all airports from this month, but officials admitted earlier this year that the deadline would not be met. None of the six largest UK airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Luton or Edinburgh – is fullly compliant.

The restrictions were introduced in 2006 following a “liquid bomb plot” on a transatlantic flight.

The last-minute move comes days…

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