back to article EU to lift flight ban on carry-on liquids

The European Union has certified a liquid-detection security scanner that will allow that £20 1.75 liter bottle of Bombay Sapphire you bought at the Duty Free shop to come aboard your flight in your carry-on bag. "The next generation of X-ray technology has arrived, with a market-ready machine that can detect liquid threats," …


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  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Erm.. duty free shops

    You can buy liquids in the duty free shops now, they are AFTER security.

    I imagine of course that they will welcome you being able to buy bottles of wine in local supermarkets and bring that home instead of having to buy it in duty free.

    I suppose they are currently deeply upset at having to charge you 2quid for a bottle of water after security.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Transfering sir?

      "You can buy liquids in the duty free shops now, they are AFTER security."

      Which is all very well on a single flight, but then the idiots will take it off you at your next transfer point as you have to go through security *again* for no obvious reason!

      This often wastes more time as you have to queue with everyone starting there as well, and makes the whole flying experience even more shitty. 10-20 years ago I actually looked forward to flying somewhere, now I really don't.

    2. Annwyn

      @Erm.. duty free shops

      You're OK as long as you don't have any connecting flights.

      If, for example, you fly from Sydney to Heathrow with a connecting flight to Manchester (or any other EU destination) - you can take the duty free grog you bought at Sydney airport on the flight to LHR, but you won't be allowed to take with you on the connecting flight.

      You used to be able to transfer it to your checked luggage when you went through customs, but I've heard they've put a stop to that.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    "The threat... became apparent following discovery of a plot ..."

    Excellent. I'm going to plot to take down an airplane using small bags of peanuts, crisp flight attendants' uniforms, and flat metal tips of seat belt buckles. I look forward to the pretzeline contortions the hand-wringing safety lunatics will use to combat *that* deadly foe.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    Whenever I have flow between England and Germany (a frequent trip) I have always been able to carry bottles purchased in Duty Free in my hand luggage?

    Am I missing something here? Or has this article completely missed the point?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Magnificent development we'll all be grateful for

    What a product! "After all, one can't be too careful.", so I for one am grateful to FearTech PLC for their timely contribution to the Be Scared Of Everything With A Colour Code market, which I believe will save me many seconds of dry parched lips at airports in the years to come. I particularly admire the fiendish Public Money Drainage Mechanism (which must have taken the sales people minutes to perfect in front of a Smirk Reduction mirror) and the media-friendly Kings New Clothes filter which will guarantee genuine British airports are the envy of every country without naturally cynical populations or meaningful airport security. (Those such as Germany may feel more confident sticking with adequately rigorous routines, common sense and well paid and trained personnel who understand 'polite' is not just a word).

    I feel safer already and I look forward to a further wave of hyped Hi-tech/hi price FlimFlamWare designed to deliver innovative solutions to fight the yet-to-be-invented non-threats of the near future, while delivering outstanding shareholder value!

    We musn't let the Pedterrorunionbenefitscroungerists destroy our way of life!

  5. TimeMaster T


    Didn't that 2006 liquid explosive plot have some one involved that was working as a security guard at the airport? In that case the explosive could just be carried in by said guard.

    At least this means I can bring my pair of 1L water bottles past the check point and not have to bend over and grab my ankles when I buy a beverage inside the "secured" area as is currently the case.

  6. noroimusha

    did i miss anything ?

    the duty free shop is after the security checks where the liquids are limited. if im not right correct me

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      It depends...

      All the airports in the UK that I have used have the shops on the far-side of the scanners. However, Prague airport has them before the scanners (one set per two gates), and so stuff bought in the airport is scanned.

      1. hiddenA

        usual rubbish

        in one terminal in Amsterdam Schipol ( contary to Dutch marketing, its not a fantastic place to shop but rather dull and boring), one cannot buy water, but one can buy alcohol.

        Really, its the aeroport ensuring passengers have to buy the water on the 'plane. They used to sell the dangerous molecular mix in speaically labelled plastic bags, but then stopped because of security [financial] concerns. However, you can still buy any bottle of _alcohol_ in a specially sealed plastic bag and take this through.

  7. Big Al

    Reporter in wrong place.

    The current system in Europe means that carry-on liquids are removed either at passport control or at the departure gate, depending on where the airport prefers to do its X-ray checks.

    In both cases, duty-free shops, being airside, are required to provide a sealed bag for any purchases, to prove non-contamination. If you were checked before buying (at passport control) this doesn't make much difference to you, and if you're checked at the gate, you're passed through without hassle anyway as long as you didn't break the seal.

    This new gadget, while obviously a wonderful thing, will probably make very little difference to the volume of duty-free (and other airside airport shop) sales, as provision for these is already made, and no effective restrictions on them currently exist.

    The shops' profit margins might rise slightly if they don't have to pay for the bags, of course, but if you're a supplier of those bags, you won't be happy. As an airport operator, you probably won't be happy about having to assume the extra cost either.

    This should all be obvious to anyone who has flown in Europe recently... but may not be so obvious to those who choose to take the marketing guff at face value...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Still won't help - You can walk through security today with a few litres of liquid, so long as they are in a bag (camelback style) not a bottle...

    "After all, one can't be too careful. According to Basu: "The threat from Liquid, Aerosol and Gel (LAG) based explosives became apparent in August 2006 following discovery of a plot to use such devices aboard multiple transatlantic flights."

    If I discovered a plot to use a pair of trousers to hijack a plane that wouldn't make trousers dangerous.

  9. TonyB

    Duty free shops will benefit?

    Surely duty free shops aren't affected - unless I mis-remember the procedure, you're relieved of any excess liquids as you pass through security scanning and then can buy whatever you like in the airside duty free shops.

  10. Alexander Hanff 1


    You have been able to take duty free bottles of booze onboard in hand luggage even since the liquids ban - I have done it myself, more than once in the past 12 months and never had an issue.

  11. It wasnt me
    Thumb Down

    Eh ?

    Do you lot fly ? You cant take liquid through security, but anything you buy in the "duty-free" rip-off merchants after security is flyable. At least it is in every airport Ive been to recently. The only thing that might change is the ability for the thieving assholes to name their price for a bottle of water.

    And the security people are all shit anyway. I have continued to carry on a bottle of water and a tin of deodorant on all flights I go on. In maybe a hundred or so flights the only operator that has noticed was in a backwater airport in the Cook Islands. LAX, Boston, all the US ones never bat an eyelid. Same for our supposedly high security London airports.

  12. Herby

    An improvement, but...

    All this window dressing is just security theater. No more, no less. They don't allow mere mortals past "security" so I can help my (92 year old) Mother-in-law.

    Maybe now I can take a cheeseburger on board since the airlines don't provide food any more. One can only hope?!

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Liquid bomb plots

    Would that have been the one where a bunch of amateurs planned to detonate 5 separate bombs in 5 aircraft and when an experienced ordnance tech tried to repeat their plan it took him 36 attempts to get an actual explosion?

    BTW Just because a scanner now exists does not mean the merkins will relax their demands.

    Besides think how many people the TSA now employs. Where else would some of these rather gravitationally challenged specimens get such well paying jobs.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Get your facts right.

    Duty free goods are allowed on board aircraft and always have been because they are purchased in a "sterile" area AFTER security. What this change will allow is the carrying of duty-PAID goods in hand baggage.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Oh joy!

    Flying, or rather the process of working ones way through the trauma that is the airport, is definitely one of my "room 101" things. It's managed to turn from something that was quite exciting (ok - I was younger then) to something that I dread. if you're not being prodded, poked or photographed then you're being bombarded with "buy this!!!" or standing around in endless queues waiting for fools that can't seem to follow the very basic check-in procedure.

    "Duty free" it might be, but they make a shit-load of profit!! Considering the duty makes up a significant proportion of the price of booze (and especially fags), then being "duty free" SHOULD mean your bottle of Bombay Sapphire is more like a fiver rather than the twenty quid they fleece you for.

    And what they ought to do to the idiots that put us in this situation with not being able to take liquids on a flight is make them go through the process of getting through an airport, five times a day, every day, for the rest of their lives.

  16. Bob H


    You can already carry on duty free in the EU, you have always been able to because it is sold in sealed bags with the receipt often in or stapled on the bag.

    I imagine this will make it possible for already purchased perfume bottles, and other such accessories to be carried through security.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    looks at calendar

    No, not April 1.

  18. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Computer says no

    I can see that working well at airports...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's hope it's really accurate

    Let's hope it's really accurate. Airplane explosions at 30,000 ft. are tough to survive. Is a bottle of booze worth dying for?

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Maybe not...

      ... but freedom is.

    2. Cyberspice

      Get some perspective

      270 people died in the Lockerbie Bombing. 2000 people die a year on the roads. I ride motorcycles. I am quite happy risk a small increase in the chance of being blown up in a plane if it means we lose some of the scare-mongering and stupid security measures and get some freedom back. Its just another way of Governments controlling people.

      1. Chris Parsons

        If it saves the life of one child...

        it's worth f*cking up the lives of every other poor sod on the planet. And it's a big if in the first place.

  20. Anonymous Coward


    You can do this now with a remarkable invention called a polythene bag. This innovative technology allows you to seal the bottle in a "security bag" (AKA polythene bag) which the vendor provides free of charge.

    Alternatively you could just not bother with the bag as you are already through the security checks.

    Some clues for the clueless here :

    1) There is no "duty-free" allowance within the EU - with the exception of anomalies like the Canaries;

    2) Due to 1) the "Duty Free" shops won't sell you anything without seeing your boarding card to verify you're leaving the EU;

    3) All the "Duty Free" shops are in the departures area. You've already been searched and relieved of any "dangerous" liquids by then. Lots of other shops sell liquids too. Nobody cares and nobody checks what you carry on the plane.

    So all this new machine will do is INCREASE the ludicrous "security checks" as everyone's half empty bottle of water will need to be scanned.

    Lovely :(

    PS - its my experience that pretty much all "departure-side" shops won't sell you anything without seeing a boarding card, the details of which are recorded so there IS a record of what you purchased.

  21. 142


    you can, of course already buy drink in the duty free as it's after the security check....

  22. EvilGav 1

    However . . .

    . . . until UK airports recognise the "sealed by duty free" stickers, you still wont be able to buy duty free on a transatlantic flight, if you have an onward flight once you land in the UK.

  23. Tom 7

    Which 'Duty Free' store is this?

    Its been a few years since I've found a duty free shop that's actually cheaper than our local booze shop! Well unless its something you cant buy in the UK like those unique malt whiskies that if they had a shop you could access without a passport would be busy processing returns.

  24. Blue eyed boy

    As a courtesy to foreign readers

    > containers ranging from 80ml to 2000ml (2.7 ounces to 2.1 quarts).

    While I appreciate the translation into foreign measure, I feel that the two sets of measurements should have been interchanged, with the foreign measure being put into the brackets since it is the translation, not the original.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Or better still...

      ...omit the medieval measurement bollocks. This is 2010, not 1020.

      WTF is a "quart" anyway? Is it 25% of the volume of King Harold's daily bowel movement?

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      @Blue eyed boy

      You might like to note this websites URL.

      The UK has used the metric system for some time.

      AFAIK only 3 countries in the world use the old *Imperial* (that is the *proper* name for this set of rather archaic weights and measures, dating from the time the UK *had* an empire ) standards.

      The US is 1. Another is an African country (presumably an old colony of the UK) and the 3rd escapes me just now.

      1. Cyberspice

        Imperial Measurements

        At least one of the countries using "Imperial" measurements is doing it wrong. They're called "English" units over there however there's 16Floz in a US pint. Which makes their pints and quarts 20% smaller than the true Imperial versions. Also they don't know what a stone is.

  25. Dom 3

    Errr, Rik....

    Here in the EU we are *already* allowed to take liquids obtained "airside" on to the aircraft. And there aren't really duty-free sales, as such.

  26. Philbert

    You can already take duty free's on board.

    You can already take duty free liquids on board if your flight is in Europe and you purchased them at the airport after security.

    Excerpt from the BA website -

    "You can purchase duty-free liquids at the airport or on board if your journey is wholly within the EU."

    Do you really think that the airport operators would have allowed this to be banned? It would have meant most of the airports in Europe going bankrupt. These days it seems that airport design is focussed solely on making sure you pass the maximum number of shops on your way to the gate.

  27. <shakes head>

    airport security

    this from the people that let me on with 2 litres of water in a blader pack after going through the scanned 4 times (looking for a pair of forgoten side cutters)

  28. Gregg Stuart

    Duty free

    You can already take liquids bought from duty free shops on board planes in the EU, it's liquids that aren't bought in the duty free area that you can't.

  29. The Impostor

    Duty Free?

    I'm a bit confused about the emphasis on duty free sales in this article. If you are flying EU to EU airport, you are already able to take on-board whatever quantity of liquid purchased in duty free, in departures, after going through security, you like. Therefore the bottle scanner will have much more significant implications for other carry on liquid items bought from outside of an EU airport, including duty free bought in an airport outside the EU where there is a transfer through an EU airport (when carry on liquids are not allowed to be transferred). Duty free sales inside the EU will not be significantly affected.

  30. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Not your standard response

    Not wishing to point out the obvious misapprehension about duty free (whoops, just did!), but having a "binary: "pass", and you're happily aboard ..." just passes the burden (or perk, depending on how vindictive you think the plastic piggies on security desks are) of taking away your cheap bottle of local brandy from the "underpaid, over-hassled, grumpy airport-security drone" to an "underpaid, over-hassled, grumpy programmer drone" instead.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You....can bring duty free onto a plane already...

  32. OldDogNewWalk

    At (almost) bleeding last.

    Thank (insert choice of deity) for that. I accept that until they have a scanner they need to limit liquids carried on board. What I have never managed to swallow(!) is that there is no potable water available once you pass security unless you pay the RIP-OFF prices charged in the airport shops. Any supermarket will sell you a 1.5 litre bottle of agua for about 10-15p (just 12 cêntimos here in Portugal) but they want £1.50 for a litre at the airport.

    I don't know why I haven't written to the DM about this.

    Oh yes, I don't read it.

  33. alain williams Silver badge

    ''Liquids bought in transit''

    I thought so -- only the over priced stuff that you bought at the air-port, they will still stop you bringing in a bottle of water that you bought elsewhere -- thereby preserving their profits by forcing you to buy from their shops.

    It is largely cobblers anyway, provides jobs for the otherwise unemployable, keeps the ''security'' industries in business and keeps the population in fear. I remember the IRA campaign in the 1970's -- we just got on with it.

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      How can you say that!

      Are you possibly suggesting that all this security theatre is NOT for our safety? What a thing to say. After all, we had one chap who nearly managed to blow up his shoe and another who sacrificed his balls when he set fire to his underpants. How is this not the most serious threat to our transport network since conductors were taken off buses and the UN commission on biological warfare banned the British Rail sandwich?

      As for the IRA campaign - well that was a completely different problem. They looked like all the other white people around them. How could you possibly demonise a group who were the same religions as a lot of the indigenous population and were so well liked that the americans financed their activities?

  34. kevin mulholland

    Its not a problem getting liquids on the plane

    Once you are past the scanners, where duty free is normally located.

  35. mhoulden


    Why do they need an overpriced contraption when they managed to stop a (not very effective) bomb plot without one?

  36. David Hicks


    You could already take stuff purchased in the duty free shop through quite happily, because the duty free shops are between security and the plane. It was liquid from outside you couldn't take onboard.

    This will have the in-lounge vendors in tears because during the restriction people couldn't even bring a bottle of water through and therefore pretty much had to buy anything they wanted to eat or drink from them.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    1. Duty free purchases were never a problem, at least not in Europe. My cupboard is bulging with duty free whisky and other liquids bought in litre bottles in European airports. The real problem is the stuff you bring into the airport, such as shampoo, some locally bought wine, tube of shaving soap or, perhaps I should grow a beard, shaving razors.

    2. Just how many credible, effective, actual incidents have there been that involved liquids? Not theoretical, real. I gather that within the Great Satan itself, for some time, perhaps still, one could fly with litres of stuff in the cabin baggage. I rather think that there are infinitely more actual terrorist or nutcase incidents causing real damage on the ground, outside airports and aircraft, in almost every country almost every day. Is this whole thing not just a con. trick to keep us nervous in the hope of putting off the real "terrorist"?

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Duty Free purchases?

    "will allow that £20 1.75 liter bottle of Bombay Sapphire you bought at the Duty Free shop to come aboard your flight in your carry-on bag."

    Er, you can already take aboard liquids purchased from the Duty Free shops (well the airside one at least) as you're already passed security. How else would I get all that Ouzo home twice yearly?

  39. Jimmy Floyd


    About bloody time. It's fine when you buy Duty Free in the airport; but when you buy a bottle on the outbound sector taking only hand-luggage, you have to check that bag in for the return leg. Fine on a proper airline like BA, prohibitively expensive on LyinAir (but then, aren't most things?).

    It does remind me that, when the ban was first brought in, airport security were disposing of all the liquids in a single container. Apparently it took a while before the concept of "binary explosives" was explained to them...

  40. Patrick 17


    Does the author not fly or is he based in the US? In the UK Duty Free is usually on the flight side of airport security and there is no problem with taking booze and liquid purchases from there onto flights.

    This scanner would presumably means we can now take bottles of water and so on from home onto flights.

  41. wyatt

    Duty free location?

    Duty free is purchased after you pass through security therefore not checked by scanners or is this not the case in some airport?

    (checks it isn't suddenly 1st April)

  42. ivaylo


    I thought anything you buy from Duty Free *is* allowed on board without even being looked at.

    The restrictions about liquds hold only when you pass through security (X-ray, metal scanner, body patting, cavity search ... and more).

    Once you clear this, you can pretty much buy any amount of liquids/alcohol and bring it on board.

    Why these items would make less of terrorist tools compared to the ones purchaced elsewhere is logic that still evades me.

    Sounds more like revenue protection than safety concern.

  43. Gill Bates

    Misleading article

    There hasn't been a restriction on taking bottles bought in duty free on board a plane as hand luggage. if you think about it, your bags are checked in before you go through security, so those litres of gin have to come on board with you. the restriction was on liquids you had in your posession before you went through security. the bottles of whatever you buy in duty free have already been checked. if this wasn't the case, where did all those reasonably priced bottles of Plymouth, Tanqueray No 10 and Laphroaig in my cupboard come from?

  44. Tom 38


    Duty free shops are AFTER security. Which means you've always been allowed to purchase your allowance, even with the liquid ban.

    What you couldnt do is buy stuff on the way out and bring it back with you in hand luggage. So don't do that.

  45. rpmmatt

    Duty free already allowed on flights?

    Surely, duty free purchases will remain unaffected as you can already take them on aircraft as a carry on. Any duty free shop, as well as other restaurants and cafes and the like are what is called "airside", meaning anything for sale is passed passport control border and has already been checked by security when delivered.

    If you are travelling on a single flight in the within the EU, once you have been through passport control there are no restrictions on what you can carry on in terms of liquids, whether duty free whiskey or a bottle of coke out of WH Smiths.

    The new ruling may help some transit passengers having to change planes, as they have to pass through security during their change in planes, but for the majority of travellers within the EU, this will simply allow them to take a bigger bottle of shampoo or take a bottle of water with them that they bought from petrol station on the way to the airport.

  46. skellious

    finally, some good news!

    Someone I know is a pilot and finds it ironic that he is not allowed to take a 250ml bottle of shampoo on a flight with him but they will happily let him take several tons of aviation fuel! (which is of course absolutely safe and not at all likely to catch fire in the event he decides to make the plane take a nose-dive! [and im not sugesting he ever has any intention of doing this, but the point is that if he wanted to blow up a plane he's got an easier way to do it than a 250ml bottle of shampoo.])

    So now at least when he flies in Europe he will not have this problem.

  47. Peter Ford

    But surely...

    ... the duty-free shops are all AFTER the security scan?

    The real problem is the flask of coffee/tea you made to get you through having to wake up at 4am in order to catch a 10am flight and avoid paying £3.00 for a cup in the departure lounge

  48. melt

    can do this already...?

    I'm sure that you can do this already; Duty-Free is inside the controlled zone, after the x-rays and the frisking.

    Other-half bought half a ton of perfume at duty-free with her leftover dollars on the way back from the USA last month. Carried it on with no problem as we'd already been scanned, and i'm assuming the bottles had also been checked somehow before they were sold to us.

  49. Cameron Colley

    So nothing changes until 2013 then?

    I have flown a few times within Europe with large bottles of "duty-free" booze this year alone and had no problems -- because they have these magical things called "sealed bags" or something.

    So, in effect, they are just saying that until 2013 the situation will be no different and, after that date, they will have paid some of their mates in the detection industry for some more pointless shit to use to slow down passengers at the gate.

    Why the fuck are these people still bleating on about the threat of liquids? Are they really being paid that much in backhanders by the liquid scanner companies?

  50. lIsRT

    So things improve, for now.

    This *is* a good thing - but I worry about what will happen when someone tries to get liquid explosives on to an aircraft by the method people have been using to successfully bring drugs across borders for years - e.g. swallowing a condom full of them and hoping their bowels are regular enough for it to make an appearance at the right time.

    There's a whole host of techniques that probably haven't been tried yet - I'm worried that one day we'll all have to have MRI scans before flights to ensure we don't have anything suspicious actually *inside* us.

    (that's assuming we're lucky - after all, an endoscope and value pack of lube is probably cheaper than an MRI scanner)

  51. HumfreyB

    Someone hasn't flown in a while

    You can already take unlimited liquids onboard from duty free (within your importation limits) - it's liquids from outside the security zone that the regulations apply to.

    If anything duty free shops have profited massively from the liquid restrictions since unless you have checked luggage you have to re-purchase contact solution / water / gin / deodorant from them once security have taken yours away.

  52. The Indomitable Gall


    "It is a major step forward in the fight against global terrorism where liquid is increasingly becoming a common tool for terrorist use and we are proud to be able to contribute to the national security."

    What terrorist incidents have occurred using liquids?

    Genuine question.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      'Ere, guvnor, we've got one who's not sufficiently frightened

      Must be one of them terr'ists, take 'im down!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A couple of near-incidents...

      ... setup by naive incompetent wannabees that nonetheless managed to scare lots of officious officials (and a couple of hacks) entirely out of their wits. So in that respect, and the ensuing inevitably knee-jerk regulation, incurred cost, and massive world-wide inconvenience and resulting annoyance directed at "the authorities" caused to travelers, it was a roaring success for "the terrorists".

      Seeing how the "pants bomber" was apparently an clueless bumbling incompetent --yet an incompetent who nonetheless managed to board without a passport, a feat repeated not much later by a youf with neither passport nor boarding pass-- I am inclined to surmise that the "security authorities" aren't worth the money spent on them and that the only reason we didn't have more "9/11" incidents is that nobody competent saw fit to seriously try.

      Which in turn makes eminent sense. There was no need, nothing to be gained that couldn't also be obtained by making suitable faces and noises in grainy video tapes sent to al-jazeera. Saves operatives' lives for another day, and works just great for creating a diversion and some more hype. The bumbling copycat attempts are just more free publicity.

      Because, after all, "terrorism" is by definition shoe-string budget warfare. Think about that for a moment. Also compare to what "we" are spending world-wide, effectively to "combat" probably less people than you'll find in west bumfsckshire.

      Well, at least it did "create a lot of jobs". Our politicians must be proud. In a GDR sort of way.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hit the nail on the head

        "There was no need, nothing to be gained that couldn't also be obtained by making suitable faces and noises in grainy video tapes sent to al-jazeera. Saves operatives' lives for another day, and works just great for creating a diversion and some more hype."

        Which is just the sort of tactic that proved quite effective for the PIRA on many occasions. Send Seamus O'Bomberman out to the nearest payphone with a handful of 10p coins to call in a couple of codeworded bomb threats. Watch several hours of mayhem and economic damage ensue for a total cost of nearly nothing and no risk whatsoever to the operative beyond what anyone faces when they step outside.

        Faced with a CREDIBLE threat, the authorities can't exactly call the terrorists' bluff. The trouble I have with the general reaction to the liquid bomb threat is that it is NOT a credible threat, whereas a stolen car full of Richardsons ("gets results!") was a very real and likely possibility.

    3. Gweilo


      "where liquid is increasingly becoming a common tool for terrorist use"

      Increased from zero to zero, as far as I know.

      There has NEVER been an actual attempt to blow up a plane using the notional "liquid bomb". Some idiots were planning to, were busted before they had even bought a ticket, and the bomb would have been unlikely to have worked anyway.

      At least there was one attempt to use underpants. Yet still a great number of passengers board planes WEARING UNDERPANTS!

      Fly safe: Go commando!

      1. IvyKing

        Yes there has

        The KAL bombing in 1986 was done with liquid explosives.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Yet no liquid ban in 1986

          So is that a twenty year delay, or were they just a teeny tad more sensible back then?

          1. IvyKing

            It was pre 9/11

            The KAL bombing took place some 15 years before 9/11, so the atmosphere was a lot less paranoid back then. Also recall that Yousef (sp?) was very close to using liquid explosives to down several airliners in the 1995-96 time frame. He did succeed in killing one passenger in a trial run.

            FWIW, the FAA did start some R&D work on detecting liquid explosives in the late 1980's.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Which flight in 86?

          Air Lanka Flight 512?

  53. Mike Hanna

    Bottles on planes isn't banned...

    A passenger currently goes through security perv scans sans-bottles and THEN goes through Duty Free and loads up with whatever they want and board the plane. Trolly dollies don't stop, and as far as I am aware security facists don't stop, people from getting on planes armed with whatever Duty Free they've purchased.

    "None of you mother lovers move! I have an oversized Tobelerone, a noveltry M&M's figure and 400 B&H I'm not afraid to use them!"

  54. JamieL

    Duty Free?

    Last time I flew, liquids bought in Duty Free were the _only_ ones you could take on board (since they were bought _after_ you went through security.

    And you've got no choice but to take them in your carry-on hand luggage as you've already checked in your hold baggage before you get to the Duty Free shops.

  55. MattW


    Aren't duty free purchases ok because you've already gone through security and have bought them airside?

  56. GettinSadda

    Not new

    "The European Union has certified a liquid-detection security scanner that will allow that £20 1.75 liter bottle of Bombay Sapphire you bought at the Duty Free shop to come aboard your flight in your carry-on bag."

    You can already carry on anything bought in the Duty Free shops as they are placed AFTER security. You can even buy duty free liquids on-board. Strangely the air-side shops at Geneva Airport also sell penknives!

  57. EddieD

    Say what?

    I've been carrying on liters of Bombay sapphire, wine, and whatever from the duty free shops regardless of the pointless ban on fluids - the fluid check is usually before all the retail concessions, and in the few places I know that it isn't, e.g. Athens, you get a sealed transparent plastic bag to lug your liters of Bombay Sapphire onto the plane - there was no way that the retail concessions were going to let a minor thing like a "ban" on fluids stop them separating you from your hard earned lucre.

  58. Steve X

    Not a duty free problem

    You've always been able to take duty-free purchases (well, tax-free for EU flights) in your hand luggage, as long as you bought them after security. It's only connecting flights where there was a problem.

    The bigger question is whether the toiletries jumbled together in an ordinary sponge bag can be processed by this scanner, so that it will again be possible to travel with normal hand luggage containing shampoo, aftershave, etc. without having to extract everything into 100ml containers in a separate bag.

    Then, of course, they'll come up with some other pointless and inconsistent restrictions that will inconvenience us further as we get scanned by a dozen different detectors and still have to work out what each particular airport thinks is appropriate. "Shoes off, sir", "No, put your shoes back on". "Laptop out of the bag, please", "No, you have to have the laptop IN the bag for the scanner".

  59. Code Monkey

    Expect lobbying

    I'm expecting opposition from the shops by the departure gates.

    Bottle of water sir? That'll be an arm and a leg. It's for your own safety, sir.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this sarcasm?

    "you bought at the Duty Free shop to come aboard your flight in your carry-on bag"

    I'm confused.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Salvation through technology

    Because, you know, concentrating on the "plot" part is just too bloody hard. I still see it as the umpteenth admission of complete and utter incompetence courtesy our secrecy -and-security circuses, er, services, and assorted counter-this and counter-that TLAgencies. All. Of. Them.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bottle scanner?

    And the security theatre pork machine grinds on.

    I have a good supply special rocks guaranteed to scare off terrorists (and tigers). A snip at $100,000 each, complete with 100% money back guarantee.

    Could do with a "duck 'n cover" icon.

  63. Olli Mannisto

    Duty free bottles

    Wait a sec.. You can already take duty free bottles to the plane. You need to have them sealed in a bag, yes. And the stewardesses will raise a stink about you daring to drink stuff not on the plane list if they catch you.

    Now if this means I can take my OWN water bottle on-board, which certainly does not cost 2.5€, that'd be brilliant!

  64. Jon Press

    Duty free...

    I thought you could take on board duty free items purchased in the original departure airport - you just can't transfer them on to subsequent flights. What you can't do is buy el-cheapo booze in the local Spanish supermarket and take it with you - I'm sure the Costa trade has lost out more than the airport industry.

    And guess what's going to happen when your expensive bottle of "eau de ritre" hasn't yet been added to the database. I don' see many people risking it to save a couple of quid.

  65. notmenotmenotme

    But think of the budget airlines! Won't someone think of the budget airlines!?

    How will those gloriously fluorescent scallywags make their profits now that the stag and hen groups make their trip through the obligatory duty free shops first ?

  66. This post has been deleted by its author

  67. Monkeigh

    Umm... You always have been able to!

    It will be great that the whole ridiculous "throw away all your drinks and then buy more 5 mins later from super high security WH Smiths", charade will be over. But this doesn't affect duty free at all.

    One of the things that made the liquid restrictions so ridiculous was that you could take whatever liquids you wanted on to the plane as long as you bought them from the airport after you went through security. Because of course every single item sold from duty free/ boots / whsmiths has been thoroughly security checked...

  68. Anonymous Coward

    Umm, is there something we're forgetting?

    Does this require the bottle to be completely clear? An opaque bottle would certainly cause it grief (there goes the Bacardi - not a great loss), but what about coloured glass (Bombay Sapph, wine)?

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      I'm guessing it requires it to be transparent to X-rays

      And since X-rays are generally quite good at travelling through things, due to their short wavelength and high energy*, you'd likely only get stopped if the bottle containing the liquids was made from lead, or other dense material made from a heavy element. Probably quite rightly so. Carrying X-ray opaque items in your hand-luggage should be one of the things that should raise questions, as opposed to plastic bottles of water.

      *Note to any Physicists; yes I know this is a tautology

    2. graeme leggett Silver badge

      at last a technical question

      I've tried briefly looking for the science behind it.

      Its to do with x-rays, but I'd have thought a dense material like glass would have dominated the signal characteristic of the liquids.

      Perhaps someone can direct us to the answer.

  69. TakeTheSkyRoad

    Looks like a usual cash in job

    Well apart from the obvious that everyone has spotted that this does not affect Duty Free I don't see much benefit to be honest. Might be a bit cheaper to travel now you can (maybe) carry your own bottle of water/etc through the special scanner but you'll only save a couple of quid.

    On a flight costing maybe hundreds what's 50p a bottle vs £1.50 a bottle really ?

    I also don't actually see any improvement to security either. Carry on checks are a moot point when you can easy put a much greater volume of liquids in your luggage. Will your luggage also be scanned with the special scanner ? I'm sure this company hopes so... sales abound !!

    All I see is extra delays while Joe Traveller gets their bag scanned in the x-ray machine which finds a bottle which is re-scanned in the special scanner and then their bag (less bottle) is re-xrayed grrr..... amsterdam schiphol is bad enough already


  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I feel sorry for the first false positive.

    After all the machine says you're up to no good, it could take a while for a specialist to become available to refute its claims.

  71. Anonymous Coward

    Security theatre

    So how do they stop a terrorist with someone on the inside (easy to do since the record checks only check for past convictions not for virgin terrorists) ensuring that certain materials pass through into the duty free shop and then are "bought" there, sealed in the bag (if necessary) and taken on the plane. I doubt that any checks are carried out on the duty free's stock as it's delivered. If there are any it will be minimal and won't involve X-rays etc. Just shows that it's all theatre and no substance.

  72. Jason Togneri

    @ All the idiots whining about duty free being after security

    Sheesh, guys. I'm glad ONE OTHER person actually has a modicum of common sense here - as EvilGav 1 pointed out somewhere above, this doesn't always apply if you have a connecting flight somewhere else, which therefore involves a second set of security checks... with your previous duty-free liquids in hand before going through. You could have just sealed them in a bag at home with a fake receipt for all you know. And before anybody argues that the article is about flights within the UK, I know people have bought something in Edinburgh, and flown via Amsterdam on to another destination and had their duty-free purchases questioned (and almost confiscated) at the second set of security checks in Amsterdam. If you only have a single flight and if you're within both the EU and the Schengen area, then perhaps it's a non-issue, but please all stop being so arrogant and short-sighted.

  73. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    That was a long time ago....

    "..a long night in a dank, windowless basement room with one naked lightbulb hanging from a slowly swinging wire..."

    Does someone on the Vulture staff still remember the 'Callan' intro...? refers...

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Liquid bomb plots


    What happened to the details of these bomb plots?

    Were there ever any credible threats?

    Was there really any orchestrated plan?

    Have people been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted of these crimes?

    If not, why not? Was there never any thret?

    If so, why is there still a 'risk', and why have we not heard about the trials?

    So many questions, so few answers from 'them in charge'...

  75. ShaggyDoggy

    Underpants !!

    "If I discovered a plot to use a pair of trousers to hijack a plane that wouldn't make trousers dangerous"

    We already had one with (non)exploding underpants, so why are we all allowed to go through security without taking our underpants off ?

  76. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Might I also recommend



      6 O'Clock


      Gordons (for when people you don't like come round and demand a drink)

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tsk, tsk.

    So many commentards surprised by a merkin having no clue whatever how the world outside their own shores works.

  78. Dibbles


    After all, one can't be too careful. According to Basu: "The threat from Liquid, Aerosol and Gel (LAG) based explosives became apparent in August 2006 following discovery of a[n alleged] plot to use such devices aboard multiple transatlantic flights."

    There, fixed Basu's quote for him

  79. Shakje

    Having not bothered to read the previous comments

    or even the first five, I feel it is my smug duty to inform El Reg that THEY ARE WRONG!

    You can take duty free on board flights.

    Wow, look how clever I am.

  80. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Duty free?

    You are all aware, are you not, that there is no longer such a thing as duty free goods when travelling within Europe? Those 'great deals' in the airport shops are often the same price (or higher) than high-street stores, and the reduced duty-free price is only available if your barding card says you are travelling outside the EU.

    1. TakeTheSkyRoad


      I fly out to Norway (non EU) via Amsterdam and essentially you are nearly right. What actually happens is that in Amsterdam the shopping is TAX Free (VAT) and as you rightly say only in Norway is it DUTY Free.

      So that bottle of spirits might be 20 quid in Tesco, 17 quid in Amsterdam and 14 quid in Norway

      (exchange rate allowing, rough calc cos I'm lazy :)

      Mind you if Tesco have an offer on they can easy swallow the knock the price down to 16 quid and swallow the Vat to get you in spending on other things but this is ignoring that.

  81. Graham Bartlett

    Duty free after checkin

    Assuming the airport is designed halfway logically, this is true. However airports do exist where this is not the case - Athens airport (that's Athens, Greece) for instance.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      This is not the case

      Last time I flew from Athens airport, the duty free was between the security check-in and the gate. Of course, Greek society does seem less prone to swallowing the security theatre bullshit, and nanny-statism that the rest of Europe seems to be becoming fond of, to the extent that you're unlikely to get anyone batting an eyelid if you light up a cigarette inside one of the airport cafés.

  82. Steve X


    Hope this scanner wasn't made by the same folks whose machines couldn't distnguish between Semtex & Christmas Pud.

  83. CheesyTheClown

    What about batteries?

    If I were to try and hide a bomb today... I would build it into batteries. You can store explosives and biochemical weapons in batteries really easily.

    Let's use a D sized cell as an example (it works with all other types too). Whatever you place it inside of needs to function on one less battery as this battery is a fake. It doesn't have to function well... if you're asked, just say "I'll buy new batteries when I land. It's too expensive to buy them in the airport.".

    Using a dense metal, you machine a device in the shape of a D-cell to a high precision. It be a screw off design with a heavy, soft rubber gasket inside. Pour a thin coating of melted lead inside the unit. This should make it look like a real battery and hide the contents from X-ray machines. Fill the fake battery with the deadly chemical of your choosing. Then close the battery so that the seems aren't visible.

    Now, the problem is, you've got traces of the toxin all over the battery on the outside. Depending on what toxin is used, the battery will need to be cleaned appropriately. Sterilization will only work on most, not all. For example, it won't hide magnesium on the outside. You'd have to file that off.. or machine off a little metal and then sand it and then sterilize it.

    Now, carefully remove the outside coating (containing the advertisement) from a duracell or energizer battery and apply it to the new "battery". If it doesn't look right, do it again. What's 2 bucks when you're going to be dead in a few days anyway.

    What you have now, is a battery that you can put in a flash light or in a radio or whatever that will go through X-Rays and bomb detectors undetected since all the chemicals in batteries look like bombs anyway. They are after all toxic chemicals.

    So... what I'm saying is... they shouldn't let ANYTHING with a battery through security since there's no possible way a new X-ray machine or detector could possibly be designed that could tell the difference between a bomb and a battery.

    Laptops are even better for this... they often contain 6-12 batteries and it's easy to say "oh... I'll charge it when I'm waiting for my flight". iPods, iPhones, etc.. are good too since their construction is good enough that no one would even think to look for a bomb inside of one of those and you could get to the bomb by "breaking the glass" and tearing it apart.

    Curling irons are also great since the heating core of a curling iron is a great place to hide things from detectors.

    I can think of tons of different places you can hide things.

    Of course... the "detector companies" aren't about to raise red flags on things they can't build fancy new machines to detect through. So... the only thing that can be done... for safety sake is to ban all battery powered electronic devices from flights. That means, no phones, no computers, no radios, no music players, no dvd players etc...

  84. Tom 13

    Might be a victory for ease of use but I think Common Sense

    is still mostly dead.

  85. heyrick Silver badge

    Well, at least it will be useful for...

    ...people who have hard (not soft/gas-permeable) contact lens solution, and those who have milk-allergic babies that need a special non-lactose stuff in their bottles. I know one of each, and they've avoided flying because of the extreme unlikihood of finding the required evil liquids at the other end of the flight.

    1. zw

      The rules on liquids are becoming "stronger", not weaker

      I have just flown from Heathrow with my baby, who has a lactose intolerance, so we brought his prescription milk powder and 5 x 200ml bottles of distilled water with us. On previous flights to Johannesburg and Faro, this was fine (I checked with BAA and BA before the first flight) but apparently they changed the rules 2 weeks ago and water of an "unspecified" source is no longer allowed and must be thrown out even for babies. If however we mixed the milk powder into the water, it becomes baby food and is allowed - but of course as it's milk, it then goes sour and has to be thrown away.

      So, if it's an explosive that looks like water, adding milk powder obviously neutralises it?

      It's not possible to make a liquid explosive that looks like milk and doesn't kill you when tasting 3 drops?

      They did point out that next time we could bring 10 x 100ml bottles of water then pour two together after security. Because if it was a liquid explosive it can' be recombined and 10x100ml is safer than 5x200ml?

      Finally, if the distilled water was in a commercially manufactured bottle and labelled as baby food, it can be in a 500ml or even 1000ml bottle and it's OK, as long as you're prepared to taste it at security. Because you can't buy empty bottles, fill them with whatever you like and glue a "baby food" label on to them?

      To be fair, the security supervisor understood that the rules she was required to enforce were non-sensical (but refused to call them "stupid") and was very apologetic.

  86. Anonymous Coward


    According to Basu: "The threat from Liquid, Aerosol and Gel (LAG) based explosives became apparent in August 2006 following discovery of a plot to use such devices aboard multiple transatlantic flights."

    Basu, and everyone else who has spent the last 4 years playing this "threat" up, is full of shit. This douchebag has one motive: to sell expensive stuff designed to counter a damn near non-existent threat.

    People who actually think, you know, with their brains, and who know what they're talking about when it comes to the potential for such threats, have debunked this. Sure, you can make such devices, given a suitable array of chemicals, lab equipment and space to work in. Here in the real world, where being in an airliner bathroom is rather like being trapped in a small, badly-lit closet during a mild earthquake and someone spending an unusual amount of time in there is going to attract attention, forget it. It's difficult enough to use those restrooms for their intended purpose, never mind as an impromptu bomb factory involving highly volatile, nasty chemicals.

    Though we should perhaps be grateful, since the chances of some dumb as a rock attempted jihadist occupying one of the two bathrooms allotted to the 300 cattle class passengers for two hours before he burns his own arm off or accidentally sets fire to his beard will be a little smaller now.

    1. Big Al

      @AC ""Threat"?!?!"


      According to Basu: "The threat from Liquid, Aerosol and Gel (LAG) based explosives became apparent in August 2006 following discovery of a plot to use such devices aboard multiple transatlantic flights."


      Proof that LAG can slow you down at airports too!

      Mine's the one with the bottles in each pocket... in sealed bags of course!

  87. HP Cynic

    Pruning Shears required

    70+ comments and 50+ of them must be the same "You can already buy Duty Free because those shops are positioned after the Security Checks" etc.

    Please prune and stop accepting the same comment over and over again!

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      @ HP Cynic

      Well, we're talking about the (lack of) potential for blowing up airplanes... maybe the Mod's on autopilot?

  88. Mad Jack

    Can someone please explain?

    ... how putting liquids into a resealable plastic bag renders them safe?

    Also I have had the following items confiscated from hand luggage:

    * A miniature jewellers screwdriver in a watch repair kit

    * Nail clippers (not pliers)

    I suppose the logic is that I could take cabin crew hostage and threaten to dismantle their wristwatches or ruin their manicures unless they comply with my evil demands?

    What's more, I got marched off into an interview room and strip searched because a tiny metal manufacturer name tag on a belt loop of my trousers (1/4 the size of a zip tag) made a handheld scanner beep.

    If we have to implement rules like these, the bad guys have already won.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Security panto

    I could not take on nail clippers for a Thiefrow to SFO flight, but that was more than made up for by being given a REAL FRACKING STEAK KNIFE by a steward, to eat my steak with. The wonderful surreal world of BA business class.

    Ben Gurion airport was wonderful though, a PA announcement came on saying it was OK to smoke in the terminal building. It made my day.

  90. ShaggyDoggy


    It took a few days to get the liquids ban put on.

    How come it takes 3 YEARS to take it off ?

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