Leave laptops, toiletries in your bag as airports adopt ‘3D’ scanners

Life’s actually getting a little easier for travellers as the advanced scanners come online.

By David Flynn, August 29 2023
Leave laptops, toiletries in your bag as airports adopt ‘3D’ scanners

Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will complete their rollout of new ‘computed tomography’ (CT) scanners by the end of 2025, in line with the Federal Government’s mandated airport security requirements.

The advanced carry-on bag screening equipment, which generate a 3D image that can be viewed and rotated on three axes, is already in place at Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Darwin, allowing laptops, liquids and gels to remain tucked away in your carry-on bag.

Melbourne Airport currently has the time- and hassle-saving scanners installed in all terminals excluding the T1 Qantas domestic facility, with an airport spokesperson telling Executive Traveller it’s now working on that timeline with Qantas.

Sydney Airport has 3D scanners in its own T3 Qantas domestic terminal, and they’ve recently been added to many but not all lanes at the T1 international terminal.

The rest of Sydney  T1 will steadily follow, along with the domestic T2 terminal used by Virgin Australia, Rex, Jetstar and other domestic airlines.

Brisbane is also on track to upgrade all baggage scanners “by 2025” to meet the Government’s 31 December 2025 deadline.

However, the Australian Government says it has no plans to scrap or increase the current limit of 100ml/100mg limit on liquids, alcohols and gels on international flights.

Liquids limit raised to 2 litres

It’s a different scene in the UK, where airports are racing to meet a Government deadline requiring outdated security scanners be replaced with modern 3D versions by June 2024.

London City Airport – the first major hub in the UK to complete the upgrade, in April – now permits passengers to bring up to two litres of drinks, perfumes, beauty products and the like in their cabin bags.

CT scanners have also been installed or trialled in select passenger security lanes at London’s Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, although the standard LAG limits remain in place.

But that’s set to change by the middle of next year, when British Transport Secretary Mark Harper says travellers can wave goodbye to “the tiny toiletry (which) has become a staple of airport security checkpoints.”

Passengers will be able to carry containers with up to 2 litres of fluid, doing away with the 100ml mini-bottle and the ritual of discarding larger volumes of liquid, however valuable.

The UK isn’t the first country to introduce the new technology: hubs including Amsterdam Schiphol and Helsinki, as well as several in the US, already have CT baggage scanners.

Additional reporting by Chris Ashton

30 Mar 2014

Total posts 18

Adelaide currently has the technology installed in one of the three or four security lanes, in conjunction with a microwave body-scanner rather than the usual metal detector arch. Sadly, it seems to take two or three times as long to get through security if you use this lane rather than one of the "normal" lanes. I hope all of the airports plan to address this problem or the queues will be massive......

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 469

There is no doubt that the body scanners take much longer per passenger - around 10 seconds per passenger, compared with the 2 or 3 secs that it takes to walk through the metal detectors.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2017

Total posts 42

I agree with Caversham04. I don’t think they save time. Either get delayed with the body scanner or waiting for the luggage scan, both are much slower than the older machines.

01 Nov 2017

Total posts 17

Worked well in Canberra,  was through quite quick!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 26

Agreed, I’ve also experienced long delays inAdelaide to the point where it’s best to avoid that lane. But as a counter point, in Perth I’ve also had my bag come out before I’ve got through the body scanner myself! Could just be the way they’re operating / reviewing the bag scans. 

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 418

I went through one of the 'new' scanners at SYD T1 a few weeks ago, ironically it seemed slower because everyone was getting out their laptops and toiletries as per usual but then being told they don't need to do that, which caused a bit of confusion. But I think once these 3D scanners are the norm at all lanes people will quickly get used to it.

For what it's worth, the SYD T1 3D scanners are up near the crew and APEC lanes, if you go through the 'Priority Lane' for first and business class you come out where the 'old' scanners are.


22 Jan 2013

Total posts 99

Bags might go through without removing anything, but still have to take your shoes and belt off, so slows me right down by the time I get redressed. 

13 Apr 2017

Total posts 7

Unless it's changed recently I didn't think removing shoes and belts was a requirement at airport security in Australia?

(It is in the US, I am aware, however; unless you have a trusted traveller membership) 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jan 2019

Total posts 10

OMG!  This was me on Monday coming through Adelaide security.  It was the “priority” lane too.  

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 462

I have off topic seen the old shoes and belt thing travelling through the middle east to Europe both ways once not impressed it's like prisoner the TV show to draw comparisons with.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2017

Total posts 4

The bags may be quicker, however the new body scanners are MUCH slower and make things worse. The number of false positives and need for re-scans or metal detector wands slows everybody down and make the whole system much slower. The only offset is if you are directed to the first bay to place your bag in a tray and then the next 20 bags that go to the bays closest to the scanner move through. IF you haven’t had a false positive and actually get through the body scanner in a normal time you then realise your bag hasn’t actually moved along the conveyor and is still stuck behind all the bags going straight through the scanner from the two bays closest to the scanner. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Apr 2016

Total posts 11

I purposely avoid the furthest "station" from the scanner as all pax using the ones closer to the scanner stop bags to push theirs through earlier. I do so myself!
Its a flaw in the design not taking into account human nature.

30 Aug 2023

Total posts 1

We have had this in Darwin for a few months.  It's not much faster, and as others have mentioned they now ask you to remove your belt (although not shoes).   Then more than 50% of the time I get flagged for attention with a wand/pat down.   I would rate it a marginal improvement at best.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jan 2019

Total posts 10

I had a horrendous experience going through Adelaide airport this week.  I joined the “priority” lane (far right side) and the scanners were not up to par.  My luggage was scanned five times and unpacked in between each scan.  Nothing was confiscated.  It was extremely stressful to watch my personal items scattered across the conveyor belt while they decided whether I was ok to pass through security.  Half an hour later I was grateful I had arrived early to do some work in the lounge before take off.  

Etihad - Etihad Guest

09 Jun 2019

Total posts 11

There's a problem with the body scanner at Sydney domestic. Certain fabrics (e.g. my denim jeans) indicate a problem area when there is nothing there. Worse still, instead of the usual pat down on the spot, they insisted on taking me to a private room nearby for the pat down and I had to fill in and sign a form they provided. All unnecessary and a waste of my time when hurrying to catch a flight. I have heard from others who have had a similar experience at Sydney.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

26 Apr 2019

Total posts 7

My experience  - around Australia but particulalry in Canberra, and different parts of the world,  - is that it is no quicker and is typically slower by some margin.  You have to take your belt off more often than not in Canberra too (some inconsistencies, depending on the day here).  And the scrum at the loading onto the conveyer belt part where 4 people can do it at the same time simply means that everyone gets out of sequence when waiting for bags.  Doing the "arm dance", false positives, secondary screening, having to get re-dressed, all make for a slower experience and bigger crowds on both sides of the process.  

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1025

The new baggage scanners are fine, just get rid of the pointless unneeded body scanners.

Body scanners do not belong in airports. Period.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Apr 2019

Total posts 4

Good thing they're bringing in these body scanners, even if they slow us down, to put an end to all those innumerable incidents where someone has got through the old metal detector with a weapon and caused massive loss of life. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2018

Total posts 25

I don't know what it is but EVERY time I go through the body scanner I show up a shadow on my left chest as though I have something in my shirt pocket ... No surgeries or implants so ???   Still glad to comply as it makes my flying safer Thank You Very Much.

12 Dec 2018

Total posts 21

I regularly get asked to remove a casual belt and RM Williams boots to pass through, however other times can leave my dress belt and black work shoes on when travelling in a suit. I have never understood that.

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