This U.K. Airport Just Dropped the 100-Milliliter Liquid Limit—and More Airports Will Follow Suit

At London City Airport, passengers no longer need to remove laptops or liquids from their carry-ons and can bring up to two liters of liquid (about half a gallon). All U.K. airports will do the same by 2024.

Security bin with laptop, sunscreen, and large water bottle at London City Airport

Traveling with a huge bottle of water through London City Airport? Go ahead, leave it in your carry-on.

Photo by Andrew Baker/London City Airport

London City Airport this week became the first major U.K. airport to lift its 100-milliliter (3.4-ounce) liquid limit and allow laptops and liquids to remain in all passengers’ carry-on bags, thanks to enhanced scanning technology. The move is part of a larger U.K. airport security policy shift that aims to have all U.K. airports do away with the 100-milliliter rule by 2024.

“The tiny toiletry has become a staple of airport security checkpoints, but that’s all set to change,” U.K.’s Transport Secretary Mark Harper said in a statement about the new airport security policy.

By 2024, all major airports across the United Kingdom will be required to install new Computed Tomography (CT) x-ray technology that will allow tablet devices, laptops, and liquids to remain in carry-on items and will allow passengers to bring containers of up to two liters (or about half a gallon) of liquid.

Because the new scanning technology means that travelers will no longer need to pull out liquids and electronics from their personal belongings, it is estimated that 30 percent more passengers can be screened per hour, making it considerably quicker to get through security.

As the pioneering airport to have fully implemented the new scanning technology, London City Airport, which estimates that it will welcome nearly 4 million passengers in 2023, notes that passengers flying from the central London hub will be among the first in the country to experience the hassle-free system.

The new security screening process is made possible by newly installed CT scanners manufactured by aviation technology provider Leidos.

The 100-milliliter liquid limit has been in place in the U.K. since 2006. Under the rule, all liquids must be in containers that are no more than 100 milliliters in volume and be stored in a clear plastic bag that must be removed, along with all electronic items, from carry-on luggage at security screening checkpoints.

Because the new policy is not being rolled out across the U.K. simultaneously, travelers need to remain up to date about the latest policies at all the airports they are traveling through.

Is the TSA going to change the 3-1-1 liquid limit rule in the U.S.?

Across the pond in the United States, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has not indicated that it plans to do away with the rule that only liquids that fit into 3.4-ounce containers are allowed to remain in carry-on when passing through security.

But, increasingly, liquids and laptops will be able to remain in carry-on luggage at TSA security checkpoints at a growing number of U.S. airports, as the United States is also updating its screening tech with new CT scanners that allow electronics and liquids to remain in travelers’ belongings. That capability could considerably speed up often sluggish security lines.

The reason laptops and liquids can stay in carry-ons is that the upgraded scanners can more accurately detect weapons, explosives, and other prohibited items than their predecessors. And thus far, TSA has deployed more than 230 CT scanners with plans to double that number by November 2023.

Shoes still have to come off for non-TSA PreCheck passengers (TSA PreCheck passengers can leave their shoes on), but not having to pull the liquids and laptops out will speed things up considerably.

U.S. airports with new scanners that let laptops and liquids remain in carry-ons include:

  • Albany County (ALB)
  • Amarillo International Airport (AMA)
  • Austin–Bergstrom International (AUS)
  • Bradley International (BDL)
  • Birmingham International (BHM)
  • Nashville International (BNA)
  • Burlington International (BTV)
  • Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF)
  • Chattanooga Metropolitan (CHA)
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International (CVG)
  • Des Moines International (DSM)
  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW)
  • El Paso International (ELP)
  • Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International (FLL)
  • Greenville–Spartanburg (GSP)
  • Hilton Head Island Airport (HXD)
  • Washington–Dulles International (IAD)
  • Wilmington International (ILM)
  • Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
  • Memphis International (MEM)
  • Manchester Boston Regional (MHT)
  • Oakland International Airport (OAK)
  • Rhode Island T. F. Green International Airport (PVD)
  • Raleigh–Durham International (RDU)
  • Stockton Regional (SCK)
  • Syracuse–Hancock International (SYR)
  • Tallahassee International (TLH)
  • Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS)
Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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