Airport security: bye, bye 100ml rule

The infamous 100ml liquid rule

June 22, 2023

Airport security has always been a top priority, especially since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Since then, the aviation industry has implemented a variety of measures to increase security and prevent potential threats, including the infamous 100ml liquid rule. However, as technology advances and the aviation industry adapts, it's time to re-evaluate the usefulness of this regulation.

The rule was introduced in 2006, after a terrorist plot was foiled in an attempt to smuggle liquid explosives aboard an aircraft[1]. The intention was to limit the amount of liquid passengers are allowed to carry on board to prevent such attacks from occurring again. Ever since, passengers have been required to carry liquids in small, clear plastic bags, with each individual container not exceeding 100ml.

Clear plastic bag to carry liquids less than 100ml on board an aircraft.
Liquids brought into the aircraft cabin must be carried in a clear plastic bag with a maximum capacity of 1 liter, and no container may hold more than 100ml. @ Munich Airport international GmbH
Modern security lane at Munich Airport
Munich Airport is currently implementing a total of 15 new security screening lanes for an improved passenger experience. © Flughafen München GmbH

Advanced screening technology provides remedy

Despite the regulation being in place for over a decade, it still causes inconvenience and frustration among passengers. Travelers have to purchase smaller versions of their favorite toiletries and pack them in clear plastic bags, causing additional stress and time. Fortunately, an advanced scanning technology for liquids is currently being implemented at airports worldwide, making the 100ml liquid rule soon to be obsolete.

Advanced screening technology for liquids has been in development for many years, and now is finally available for operation. Travelers will be able to leave liquids in their bags (up to 2 liters), in addition to all their electrical items. Their hand luggage will be scanned by new 3D scanners similar to CT scanners used in hospitals, allowing security personnel to easily detect any dangerous substances. 

The new technology has already been implemented in some airports, such as London City (United Kingdom)[2] and Schiphol (Netherlands)[3]. It is expected to become more widespread in the coming years, as global airport operators such as Aena have already announced changes by 2024[4]. Munich Airport is currently working on the CT scanner project scheduled for completion in autumn 2024, where passengers will benefit from a total of 15 new security screening lanes. This is a major step forward in airport security, and it's important that travelers are aware of the upcoming changes and how this will affect their airport experience.

Enhancing the passenger experience

The new scanning technology has a number of advantages for passengers. Firstly, it reduces the time required for security checks, which is a huge benefit for passengers who are already under a lot of stress. The screening process can take as little as 10-15 seconds, which is much faster than the previous method of having to remove liquids from bags and place them in separate containers. To reach the maximum throughput, it is important that airports implement these new technologies jointly with an Automatic Tray Return System (ATRS).

Secondly, passengers no longer have to pack their miniature liquids in a clear plastic bag. With the new technology being able to screen multiple liquids at the same time, they also do not have to separate their liquids into individual containers anymore. They can simply leave their liquids in their bags, and they will be screened along with the rest of their belongings.

Lastly, the new technology reduces the amount of waste generated by airport security checks – not only by eliminating the clear, plastic bags. Under the 100ml liquid rule, passengers are required to dispose of any liquids that exceed 100ml, which can lead to a significant amount of waste if they forget this restriction and carry larger liquid items with them (e.g. shampoo, drinks etc.).

Woman at modern airport security lane at Munich Airport
Passengers will benefit greatly from the new scanners, as they will no longer have to pack their liquids in separate clear bags and unpack them at the security checkpoint. © Flughafen München GmbH
Security screening at Munich Airport
By using innovative CCTV technology like automatic 3D real-time tracking, airport security can increase its overall efficiency. © Flughafen München GmbH

Increasing the efficiency of airport security

While the new scanning technology is a huge benefit for passengers, it's also a significant development for airport security. The technology is more accurate than previous methods, making it easier for security personnel to detect dangerous substances and reduce the number of false positives. It's also more efficient, allowing security personnel to screen liquids faster and with less inconvenience for passengers.

In conclusion, this development is a great improvement for both passengers and security personnel, and we at Munich Airport are looking forward to offering this state-of-the-art technology to our customers very soon. The 100ml liquid rule has caused inconvenience and frustration for passengers for over a decade, and we are very happy to say 'bye, bye' to the clear, plastic bags in the near future.