Liquids soon to be allowed back on planes

It looks like beer runs to Istanbul may be back on the table again, as the feds are reconsidering the ban on liquids greater than 3oz. According to the folks with the Associated Free Press, bigwigs at the International Civil Aviation Organization meeting in Montreal have been hinting that new technology in the baggage scanning world will soon be able to detect malicious liquids at security checkpoints. The technology could be widespread and integrated into airports by 2012.

This means that cases of wine from Argentina, packs of beer from Minneapolis and, well, large bottles of toothpaste and contact lens solution may soon once more be allowed to fly with their owners in the cabins of passengers jets. Of course this also means that that battle for overhead bins may begin once more, with desperate passengers trying to cram a weeks worth of luggage into an microscopic rollaboard. Still, the benefits will still outweigh the costs.

What will truly be interesting to see is how the airlines react to reduced to income from checked baggage fees. It wouldn’t surprise us at Gadling Labs if they either secretly try to block the ease on liquids restrictions or incorporate some hardcore checked baggage policies in the future.

Is the liquids ban no more?

It’s hard to remember a time when liquids were openly allowed on a plane, when wine runs to Paris were plausible and when bringing a full water bottle past security wasn’t considered a shame-worthy sin. For several years now the TSA has ardently enforced a 3-1-1 rule, effectively restricting anyone from carrying liquids in containers over 100mL onto an airplane.

As time and tempers have faded, however, so has enforcement. Now when marching through the security line it seems that a few containers over 100mL can slip through the X-ray and that few are asked to remove and display their liquids. Our old friend Chris Elliott writes up a few first hand accounts over at MSNBC, where from his perspective it almost appears that the ban is no longer.

Needless to say, take Mr. Elliott’s experiences with a grain of salt. Officially, the 3-1-1 policy is still in place, and anyone bringing an egregious amount of liquid or citing his article is surely going to get rebuffed. For now, count your blessings that the TSA might be looking the other way and cross your fingers that the policy soon becomes permanent.

EU rules on liquid carry-ons may become “fluid”

Grab a drink, if you feel inclined … in Europe, at least. The European Union is getting ready to lift the ban on liquids in carry-ons. The target date is still pretty far in the future, because the technology the EU plans to use isn’t widely available yet. Originally, the prohibition was supposed to expire in April, but now it’s looking like no later than 2014.

Okay, so don’t rush to celebrate the change.

That being said, the EU’s transportation officials are pressuring the technology companies involved to move quickly.

The rules against liquids in containers larger than 100 ml and not in clear bags have been in effect for three years, after a terrorist plot was uncovered in Britain. The perps were planning to use liquid explosives in soda cans.

Now that everyone’s safe, we’re also free to gripe about what we can’t take on board – not to mention longer waits at security checkpoints. Progress may be slow, but at least it’s happening. Let’s give a nod to innovative thinking, with a technological solution being devised to give us back some of our time without compromising our security.

If you need action sooner, there’s a chance that the rules may be eased a bit for duty-free liquids bought outside the EU.

British Airports May Lift Liquid Ban Soon

Passengers on both sides of the Atlantic are barred from bringing liquids through airport security checkpoints. That might be changing soon. British airports hope to have scanning devices that can sense explosive liquids in place soon. Security services are already in the final stages of testing the machines. Once the testers give the go ahead, airports can put the scanners to work.

Four airports, including London Heathrow, have already purchased scanners. However, it is likely that the ban on liquids will not be lifted until all the country’s international airports are similarly equipped and their security personnel trained to operate the scanners. In other words, don’t get overexcited and try to carry that $200 bottle of cognac onto your flight out of the U.K. tomorrow.

Airlines have been complaining about the restrictions for some time now. They say that the rules make England’s airports less attractive. However, the ban was first put in place after a terrorist plot to blow up airplanes using liquid explosives was uncovered. Being sure you’re not going to get blown up is pretty damn attractive…or maybe that’s just me. If the liquid scanners work in England, US airports will probably follow their lead in short order.