Carrying liquids in your hand baggage: what you need to know
Sipa Press_Rex Features
The delightful plastic bag we're all well acquainted with
Airport travellers can forget about a let-up from one of the biggest irritations of flying, the ban on liquids, aerosols and gels larger than 100ml in carry-on luggage, after plans to relax the ban in April 2013 have been postponed yet again, this time indefinitely.
Lobby groups began pushing for the ban to be lifted almost as soon as it was introduced in 2006, following a failed plot to detonate liquid explosives on board several aircraft flying from the UK to North America.
But now any change in policy seems very unlikely after the European commission decided earlier this month to keep the ban firmly in place, at least for the foreseeable future.
According to the European commission's spokesperson for transport, Helen Kearns, the danger posed by liquid explosives to civil aviation is still significant.
Although a lot of progress has been made in developing technology that can adequately detect liquid explosives, the sheer size of the project - which involves it being rolled out across thousands of airports - presents considerable risk.
The ban is only likely to lift once other security measures have improved.
Airport operators in the UK, who lobbied for the liquids ban not to be lifted next year, welcomed the European commission's decision saying they would like to see the ban only relaxed once the technology has matured and a seamless transition of the security processes can be assured.
Some officials, however, aren't convinced that is all there is to it. "This is not a question of security but a matter of airports calling on the government not to implement the changes in a money-saving attempt, despite British airports being given ample time to purchase and install the technology," says Brian Simpson MEP, Chair of the European parliament's transport committee, in an official statement. "I am very disappointed that the UK government has decided not to comply with the planned partial lifting of the airport liquids ban," he says.
One airport industry insider agrees the financial investment is one of the biggest deciding factors in keeping the ban in place. "Of course there is the cost of the screening technology itself," he explains, "but it goes far beyond that."
Rex Features- David Pearson
According to him most airports will have to change their building infrastructure physically to accommodate the new technology, which is quite a bit wider than the current screening machines, and staff will have to be retrained. "Somebody will have to pay for all that, and airports may very well pass the cost of the investment on to airlines, who in turn may pass it on to passengers," he adds.
Passengers are still the ones who are impacted the most, not the airlines.
Whatever the reason for keeping the ban in place, it continues to be passengers who are impacted most. "I am no stranger to the whole airport security process and what I can and can't put in my hand luggage," says Klaus, an executive based in Frankfurt, Germany, who flies regularly.
"But although I have flown hundreds of times even I have been caught out by the ban on more than one occasion. There is nothing nice about having to give up a brand-new bottle of expensive aftershave, just because in the rush to get to the airport it momentarily slipped your mind that it was larger than 100ml!"
Why did the ban first start?
The ban on liquids, aerosols and gels (also known as LAGs for short) was first introduced in 2006 after terrorists tried to exploit the vulnerability of current X-ray screening machines, which are unable to distinguish between liquid explosives and regular liquids.
New screening technology will use a more advanced system of 3D X-rays to scan luggage from more than one angle, which enables security machines to detect different densities of liquids - liquid explosives are denser than liquids like water or juice.
So what do you think? Do you think there is much point in a ban on liquids being taken through the security gates at airports? Take our poll.
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People moan and grown about, all sorts of security bans, like liquids at airports, but, as soon as an aircraft blows up, they are the first ones to point the finger at the airport security and the plane companys. get a life you lot, it's all done for your safty... think about it, plane on fire at 35000 feet and no where to go, or ban liquids and tighten up security, I know what my choice would be.
With the continually rising prices of air travel (due to airport taxes, fuel costs, horrendous baggage charges plus the hugely inflated fares during school holidays) the only way a lot of families can afford the take a well deserved break from our diabolical British weather, is to travel with only hand luggage.
It is almost impossible to take adequate provision for sun creams, toiletries etc for my family of 5 in 100ml bottles particularly if you need to carry medicines as we do. Obviously I dont want my children to be blown up by terrorists but when other European countries we travel home from seem so much more relaxed regarding this issue the protection offered by the ban is limited in any case. More advanced scanning equipment is the only way forward. With so many people opting not to take hold luggage any more I don't think it will be an issue much longer in any case; the airlines dont like being outsmarted I'm sure they will reduce the weight allowance for hand luggage sufficiently enough to cause most people to take hold luggage therefore packing larger liquids within.