UK Airports Struggle to Meet 100ml Scanner Deadline, Risks Summer Travel Chaos

By Ivan PetrenkoJan 29, 2024 01:54 AMNews
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Cosmetic liquid bottles
Cosmetic liquid bottles. Source: unsplash

The United Kingdom's busiest airports, including London Heathrow, London Gatwick, and Manchester, are on the brink of missing a crucial June 2024 deadline for the installation of new security scanners. These advanced scanners, intended to eliminate the long-standing 100ml liquid limit in carry-ons, promise to streamline the security process. However, their delayed deployment threatens to sow confusion among summer travelers.

Set by the Department for Transport (DfT) at the close of 2022, the deadline aimed to phase out the need for "tiny toiletry" restrictions, a familiar fixture in airport security since 2006. This initiative, endorsed by then-Transport Secretary Mark Harper, was designed to ease the travel experience. Yet, with the deadline fast approaching, reports from BBC News indicate that several major UK airports may not meet the target.

While some new scanners will be operational, others will continue using current systems, maintaining the 100ml rule. This inconsistency could lead to confusion and inconvenience for passengers, warns consumer group Which?. Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, expresses disappointment at the potential delay, underscoring the importance of these scanners in reducing security queues during the peak summer travel season. Boland advises passengers to stay informed to avoid surprises.

Aviation expert Sally Gethin points to the scanners' weight and cost as potential hurdles. Installation complexities, particularly at Heathrow with its 146 security lanes, further complicate the process. Heathrow, the UK's largest airport, has partially implemented the new technology in Terminals 2, 3, and 5, with Terminal 4 expected to follow suit by summer. Meanwhile, London Gatwick aims to significantly progress its scanner installation by the deadline, with full completion slated for early 2025.

Manchester Airport Group (MAG), managing Manchester, Stansted, and East Midlands airports, also anticipates substantial implementation by June 2024, with the full roll-out expected in 2025. This expansive project requires terminal expansions and operational maintenance during construction.

The DfT, yet to comment, faces scrutiny as the travel industry and passengers eagerly await a resolution. The ongoing 100ml liquid restriction, a security measure since a thwarted terror plot in 2006 involving liquid explosives, has long been a source of traveler frustration. The current situation underscores the need for a balanced approach, blending security with traveler convenience, particularly as the summer travel season looms.

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