UK airports to relax security regulations by 2024 thanks to new high-tech scanners

Baggage Screening - Getty

Good news for frequent flyers, thanks to cutting-edge technology, airport security measures will become less stressful.

In the UK, the government is considering introducing more advanced scanners at airports by mid-2024, meaning passengers will no longer have to remove liquids or laptops from their luggage.

The 3D scanners, similar to computed tomography (CT) scanners used in hospitals, provide a clearer image of the contents of a bag, which can be rotated 360 degrees and zoomed in for better inspection. The equipment has been tested at London Heathrow Airport since 2017.

John Holland-Kaye, LHA chief executive, told The Times: “We are slowly rolling them out. We have just started the expansion of the security area in Terminal 3 which will have more CT scanners and have a deadline of mid-2024 from the DfT. By then the normal passenger experience will be that liquids stay in bags.”

Currently, passengers can only carry liquids in hand baggage in containers of no more than of 100 ml. For the security check, these must be placed in a single transparent, resealable plastic bag with a maximum capacity of one litre and measuring approximately 20 cm by 20 cm, as per the regulations in force since November 2006. Once the technology is implemented in all major UK airports, the 100ml limit will be abolished.

Initially, the UK Department for Transport had requested that all UK airports be equipped with the new scanners by 1 December 2022, but the COVID-19 pandemic made this deadline impossible to meet. Former British prime minister Boris Johnson announced the plans to upgrade security equipment in 2019. “The new 3D technology is said to use the most advanced imaging systems available in order to provide security personnel with better images of cabin baggage.”

“Once in place, the 100ml liquid limit may no longer apply and passengers could take liquids, like a bottle of water, through security.”

Boris Johnson

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps praised the new screening equipment for “improving security and making the experience smoother and less stressful for passengers”.