Liquid restrictions to be lifted at Australian airports in 2013

By John Walton, November 21 2011
Liquid restrictions to be lifted at Australian airports in 2013

Liquid, aerosol and gel restrictions for hand luggage of overseas travellers will be lifted from all Australian airports in 2013, but laptops and tablets will still need to be hauled out of your bag.

Sophisticated new security equipment being installed at international airports around Australia and capable of detecting liquid explosives means the current 100ml restrictions -- introduced in 2006 after a plot to detonate liquid explosives on flights from the UK -- will no longer be necessary.

According to a Commonwealth Government statement issued by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, passengers will once again be able to carry bottles of water, more sizeable cosmetics as well as wine, spirits, perfume and other toiletries without fear of them being pulled from your luggage and tossed into a bin behind the security scanning stations.

But it's not all roses for the business travel brigade: laptops and tablets will still need to be removed from your carry-on bag and placed in a tray for individual scanning, a department spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller.

"The existing Australian arrangements for the screening of laptops and similar devices remain in place" the spokesperson said.

"We are aware of efforts by the United States Transportation Security Administration to enable certain laptops and similar devices to remain in passengers’ carry-on bags during screening. It is possible that at some point in the future, with appropriate equipment in place, laptops may not need to be removed for screening purposes."

The new airport scanning equipment -- comprising multi-view explosive detection x-ray machines and bottled liquid scanners -- has already been trialled at Sydney and Melbourne airport, with staff wearing distinctive purple uniforms to highlight their presence and explain the process to passengers.

Multi-view x-ray machines can examine baggage at more than one angle, and have the ability to detect different liquids' densities. Explosives are measurably more dense than, say, water or juice.

Bottled liquid scanners have been in use on a limited basis in international airports, mainly for checking medically necessary liquids, which have been exempt from restrictions.

However, the new system will apply only for travellers flying out of Australia -- inbound passengers will still need to observe the 100ml limit.

The Government is hopeful of that changing, saying that trials of the new technology were conducted "in cooperation with authorities from both the US and Great Britain" and that "the Government continues to work within the international community to achieve further relaxations".

(Here's hoping those "relaxations" don't include the complimentary deep-tissue massage offered by the United States' TSA screeners...)


John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

Great news, a shame we have to wait until 2013, maybe this will be introduced at some airports as soon as they get the new scanners instead of waiting for all the airports to go online at the same time?

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