Here’s some news for anyone heading to, from or through Heathrow in 2014: According to the Los Angeles Times, the London airport has begun installing screening devices that will test liquids brought onto planes starting in January – liquids in much bigger quantities than the 3.4 ounce limit currently allowed.
Duty Free Liquids Only, for Now
It’s a baby step for now, since the device will only screen “duty-free liquids bought in the airport and medicine” but allowing bottles of liquor and perfume through is a start. And assuming all goes well in this initial testing period, Heathrow and other European Union member airports may allow other liquids through “in a year or so.”
Changes in U.S. Airport Security
In the U.S., the TSA has long said liquid explosives remain a potentially serious threat and while some security rules are easing up especially through the expansion of the PreCheck program – which allows passengers to keep their shoes on – so far, liquids remain limited to 3.4 ounce containers that can fit into a single quart-sized zip bag.
Will Security Lines be Faster or Slower?
According to the Times article, Battelle – the Ohio-based company that makes the liquid screening devices – says they use a “radio frequency wave and an ultrasonic pulse” to analyze a container’s contents. Testing time per container is said to be a breezy two to five seconds. However, this does not take into account the time it takes to pull a shampoo bottle out of a bag or the time it takes for a security officer to explain to passengers what they’re supposed to do. On the other hand, once the initial confusion disappears, it could ultimately mean a quicker trip through security. And no more tossing away of perfectly good bottles of water. At least in Europe.