Air passengers across the EU are now allowed to carry small quantities of liquids in their hand luggage, under new security rules that took effect on Monday (November 6th).
The measures, set out in a regulation adopted by the European Commission (EC) on October 5th, limit the amount of liquids that can be taken through airport security to no more than 100ml each. Liquids must be packed in a transparent resealable plastic bag with a capacity of up to one litre.
This applies to a range of items, including creams, lotions, hair and shower gels, toothpastes, mascara, lip gloss, perfumes, sprays, drinks, soups and syrups. The items must fit comfortably in the bag, which must not exceed 20cm x 20cm in size and must be completely closed. Passengers will remove it from their hand luggage at the airport screening points, where it will be x-rayed separately.
Exceptions are made, however, for medicines and dietary requirements needed during a trip, including baby food. Travellers will be allowed to carry such items on board.
The new regulations, intended to protect air passengers against the threat of liquid explosives, was approved in the wake of an alleged terror plot uncovered by the British authorities in August. Officials said the terrorists were planning “mass murder on an unimaginable scale” by using explosives smuggled on board in drink or other containers.
“The threat of liquid explosives is real and generic,” a statement quoted Jacques Barrot, EC vice-president in charge of transport, as saying. “The new regulation will plug a gap in our defences.”
The rules also are being applied in some areas outside the EU, including Albania, Croatia, Iceland, Kosovo, Norway and Switzerland.
Seeking to avoid confusion, the EC has drawn up a guide with all the essential information, which has been translated into several languages and has been posted on its own and other relevant air travel related websites across the 25-nation bloc.
With processing expected to take more time, some airlines have advised their passengers to make sure they arrive at the airports earlier than usual — two hours ahead of a European flight and three hours early for a transatlantic flight.
Under the new regulations, the allowable size of cabin baggage will be kept to a maximum of 56cm x 45cm x 25cm, with some exemptions — for example, musical instruments and cameras. These limits will go into effect in April.