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Ditch Tiny Bottles! Flying with Liquids Gets Easier in Europe

The European holiday has traditionally been associated with little shampoo bottles. However, that may change as airports start relaxing security standards this year. Modern CT scanners promise to expedite security checks and reduce wait times by doing away with critical hubs' 100 ml liquid rule requirement.

However, why was the 100-millilitre rule put into place first, and will doing away with it reduce aviation safety? All the information travellers need is provided here.

Why do airports have a 100 ml liquid limit?

  • 2006 Liquid Restrictions: Introduced for airline hand luggage, limiting liquids to 100 millilitres per container.
  • Reason: British authorities uncovered a plot to detonate liquid bombs on transatlantic flights using chemicals in soft drink bottles.
  • Plot Details: The plan involved using hydrogen peroxide and other chemicals in 500 ml bottles to create bombs, targeting flights from the UK to the US and Canada.
  • Potential Impact: The plot could have been deadlier than the 9/11 attacks.
  • Immediate Response: Hand luggage was temporarily banned on flights; a 100 ml container limit was later established after safety experiments.
  • Safety Findings: It is impossible to create a large-scale explosive by combining liquids in containers smaller than 100 ml without risk to the attacker and minimal aircraft damage.
  • Current Regulations: Passengers can carry up to 1 litre of liquid in containers up to 100 ml each, placed in a clear, resealable bag for security checks.

What are the reasons behind ending the 100 ml liquid rule?

  • Advancements in Security Scanners:The introduction of CT X-ray technology for airport security allows 3D imaging of luggage contents.
  • Technology Source: Similar to medical CT scans, providing detailed three-dimensional views.
  • Benefits: Enables "digital unpacking" of bags, offering 360-degree, magnified views for thorough analysis.
  • Threat Detection: Advanced algorithms can identify bombs and other threats, including different types of liquids and explosives.
  • Comparison: Superior to 2D scanners by distinguishing between various substances and providing detailed views of electronics through AI technology.
  • Manufacturer Insight: Smiths Detection and Sens-Tech highlight the scanners' ability to differentiate liquids and analyse electronics comprehensively.
  • TSA Comment: Enhanced screening technology can detect more significant amounts of explosive compounds.
  • Operational Impact: Expected to reduce false alarms and minimise unnecessary bag checks by security personnel.
  • Policy Implication: The 100 ml liquid rule could be eliminated in some countries due to improved detection capabilities.

Is flying less safe if the 100 ml liquid rule is lifted?

  • Enhanced Security: The UK's Department for Transport states new scanners will improve security by providing more precise images and aiding in identifying prohibited items and threats.
  • Faster Checks: Security screening times will be quicker, improving airport efficiency.
  • Increased Convenience: Streamlines the airport experience, making passenger travel more straightforward.
  • Reduced Plastic Waste: Decrease using single-use plastic toiletry bottles as passengers can carry larger containers.
  • Cost Savings for Travelers: Allows passengers to bring water and refreshments, reducing reliance on expensive airport purchases.

When will Europe get rid of the 100 ml liquid rule?

  1. European airports, including Leonardo da Vinci in Rome, Schiphol in Amsterdam, and Teesside International in the UK, have installed the latest CT scanners, with Spain enacting new security regulations on February 1, 2024, for gradual implementation.
  2. El Prat in Barcelona aims for a summer 2024 rollout. UK airports like Heathrow and Gatwick have tested these scanners, with a government target for new security technology installation by June 2024, though some predict early 2025. 
  3. Implementing these scanners will lead to the phasing out the 100 ml liquid rule over two years, potentially increasing airport passenger throughput by 30%. UK passengers will eventually be allowed up to two litres of liquid in hand luggage, eliminating the need for separate screening.

Are there CT scanners at airports outside of Europe?

  • As the adoption of the latest 3D scanning technology varies globally, passengers should check the liquid regulations of their destinations and return points, as airports without these scanners will still enforce the 100 ml liquid rule, leading to the potential disposal of more oversized liquid items in hand luggage. 
  • European airports and some in the US, including Chicago O'Hare, New York's LaGuardia, and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson, have started using this technology.
  • However, widespread implementation, especially in the US, as noted by the TSA, will take years, with the 3-1-1 rule remaining in effect to ensure secure transportation. Qatar's Hamad International Airport is enhancing security with the new scanners.

What effects do 3D airport scanners have on electrical goods?

  • At most airports, tablets and computers must be taken out of cabin luggage before being scanned by security.
  • This won't be necessary thanks to CT scanners, which enable electrical products to be thoroughly examined while still within a bag.
  • Film camera enthusiasts have noticed that the new scanners' enhanced radiation emissions may cause fogging and colour degradation on analogue film. 
  • Although this is up to the discretion of airport employees, some Reddit users claim they request that their film be reviewed by hand.


Introducing advanced CT scanners at airports marks a pivotal change in aviation security, potentially eliminating the 100 ml liquid rule. 

These scanners enhance safety through precise imaging, allowing for better detection of threats and prohibited items. The technology aims to streamline security checks, shorten wait times, increase convenience, and reduce plastic waste.

As airports globally transition to this new system, travellers should stay updated on changing security protocols and technological updates for a seamless travel experience.


What airports in Europe have the new scanners?

Some European airports have already installed the new CT scanners. They are used at Teesside International Airport in County Durham, UK; Schiphol in Amsterdam; and Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Rome, among others.

What liquids are still not allowed on planes in Europe?

Certain liquids, including hazardous chemicals, flammable substances, explosives, pressurised containers, and toxic materials, are generally prohibited on European planes.

When will all European airports have the new scanners?

The government told significant airports to have the high-tech equipment in place by 1 June 2024.

Do I need to do anything special to use the new scanners?

No, passengers typically do not need particular actions to use the new airport scanners. They will be scanned as part of the standard security screening procedures.

Can I bring more than 1 litre of liquids in my checked luggage?

You can generally bring more than 1 litre of liquids in your checked luggage when travelling in Europe.

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