Major UK airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick, and Manchester, are set to miss the deadline for installing advanced security scanners.
These scanners would have put an end to the 100ml limit on liquids. The government directive mandated airports to have this high-tech equipment in place by June 1, 2024.
Delays in the installation process mean that passengers may still be subject to the existing hand luggage security rules, causing potential confusion during the upcoming summer holidays.
The Department for Transport (DfT) initially set a deadline for airports to implement the new scanners by 2022, later extending it to June 2024. The advanced security scanners utilize CT X-ray technology, enabling the creation of 3D images and allowing passengers to carry up to two liters of liquid inside their bags. This technology eliminates the need for the current 100ml limit and provides more convenience to travelers.
Consumer group Which? has raised concerns about potential confusion among passengers during the summer holidays. Passengers may expect uniform changes to hand luggage security rules across all UK airports, only to find variations in place due to the delayed implementation of advanced scanners. This inconsistency could lead to delays at security checkpoints.
Despite trials starting in 2018 and gradual implementation at some airports, major hubs like Heathrow, Gatwick, and Manchester anticipate needing extra time to complete the installation across all security lanes. The delays are attributed to factors such as the weight and cost of the scanners, reinforcement of terminal floors, supply chain issues, and staff training requirements.
Heathrow has initiated the introduction of new equipment in three of its four terminals but cannot guarantee completion by June. With 146 security lanes, Heathrow faces challenges in managing the installation process without disrupting passenger flow. Gatwick expects significant progress in both terminals by June but foresees completion early next year. Manchester Airport's installation program is set to conclude in 2025.
The DfT may consider allowing airports extensions for completing installations across their premises, but penalties could be imposed if the deadline is missed without prior permission. The potential for different airports having varied security rules may cause confusion and delays at security checkpoints, prompting concerns from travel experts.
The recent setback in implementing advanced security scanners at major UK airports poses challenges for ending the 100ml limit on liquids. Delays in installation mean that varying security rules may persist, leading to potential confusion and delays for passengers during the summer holidays. The evolving situation underscores the complexity of upgrading security measures while maintaining smooth airport operations. As airports work towards compliance, effective communication with passengers becomes crucial to minimize disruptions and ensure a seamless travel experience.