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What Is Actually Happening With The 100ml Liquids Rule?

Confused about whether the 100ml liquids rule is still going to be in place at UK airports this summer? This is everything you need to know.

What is the 100ml rule?

As a Citizen Femme reader, you’re probably a pretty experienced traveller already. But just in case you are still a little confused about what the 100ml liquids rule actually is, here’s a reminder.

The 100ml rule is an airplane regulation that came into force in 2006, designed to limit the threat posed from liquid explosives during air travel. The key feature is that all passengers are only allowed to carry liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes in their carry-on luggage if they are in containers of 100ml or less. These liquids also all have to fit into a single, clear, resealable plastic bag – with a capacity of no more than one litre – which must be placed for separate inspection at security.

There are some exceptions to the rule with the necessary documentation (namely medications, baby formula and suitably sealed duty-free), and also some grey areas (does anyone really know if creamy lipstick counts?). But, ultimately, frequent flyers have probably become accustomed to the process of packing a lighter edit of makeup and toiletries, or checking larger items in.


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What is happening to the 100ml rule?

In fairly exciting news for anyone slightly jaded by the restrictions, in December 2022 the UK government announced that it was planning to phase out the requirement, due to the installation of new advanced scanners at UK airport security. These machines can better scan your liquids (and larger electrical items, such as your laptop) without them needing to be removed from your bag. This also meant the 100ml limit could be lifted and that you’d be able to carry your sunscreen, fragrance, makeup and skincare in larger containers within your hand luggage.

Why has it been in the news again recently?

Unfortunately, while you may have been dreaming about (or even enjoying) a more generous toiletries allowance and faster security times at UK airports – the transition has not been totally smooth-sailing. The scanners have taken much longer to be installed than planned, due to logistical challenges, financial constraints and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. That means the deadline set by the government, of June 2024, has been missed at many airports.

The roll-out has been delayed enough that even the airports such as London City, who had piloted the changes, have had to reintroduce the old restrictions. That is now being blamed for contributing to flight-missingly long queues at security in places such as Birmingham Airport, which has made national news for having security lines (literally) out of the airport doors and around the car park.


Will the 100ml limit ever be lifted?

In better news, yes, there are still plans for the new scanners to be implemented so that the 100ml restrictions can be lifted. Timelines, however, are a bit TBC, with a vague date of ‘2025’ being given. The new roll out, when it comes, is also likely to focus first on the major airports in the UK, such as Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester. It remains to be seen when it might happen at smaller airports.

What’s the best advice for this summer?

For now, the best thing you can do is check the specific requirements of your departure airport before travelling. These will be clearly indicated on the airport website. Don’t forget you also need to check the requirements for the airport you are flying home from too, as different countries have different rules.

For summer 2024, it’s potentially better to be safe rather than sorry. Pack any large toiletries in your checked luggage, and make sure all liquids in your carry-on bag are below 100ml, for now.

Hopefully by summer 2025, you’ll be travelling without the 100ml rule once and for all. But until then, here’s our beauty editor’s 100ml packing list to help take the stress out of your travels.

What to pack: 100ml and under

  1. A slimline moisturiser tube rather than a pot will take up less space in your clear bag
  2. Don’t risk unpredictable hotel shampoo when packing light – pack a luxe mini sample
  3. A tinted SPF provides multi-tasking sun protection and some coverage
  4. A swoosh of mascara instantly awakens tired-looking eyes straight off the plane
  5. Toothpaste can make you feel instantly fresher on long-haul flights
  6. A moisturising lip tint keeps your pout hydrated and defined

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