There are very many toiletries and other items which come in the form of aerosols. Many people still fall foul of the regulations and have to leave behind some items they would have liked to travel with as the rules of the airlines would not allow them. Many do not know what to expect at the airport before they travel. Airports are looking forward to getting rid of the “liquid ban” as it were in 2023.
African airports should pay attention to these changes and begin to plan and budget for the same. Some early versions of the scanners are reported to allow you to leave your liquid bag and electronics in your hand luggage. The United Kingdom is taking bold steps towards introducing this policy in 2023.
The rule of the TSA and which also has global relevance is: “ Any item you can spread, smear, spray or spill must be 3.4 oz /100 ml or less in carry-on, it is considered a liquid, all the liquids must fit inside a clear quart sized bag and each passenger is allowed to have only one clear quart sized bag.” Should you be travelling with a large aerosol container, like a 4 oz /118 ml antiperspirant you will be required to place it inside your checked bag or find a small one that is 3.4 oz /100 ml or less.
Some items may be confiscated if brought to the airport though less than 3.4 oz /100 ml. Dangerous aerosols like bug sprays and any other product with toxic chemicals are items that will not be allowed in carry-on baggage with exceptions when they are medications. It is advisable to draw the attention of the security to them as well as place them out for special x-ray screening. Flammable aerosols and sprays will not be accepted in both carry-on and checked bags.
The travel experience can be dampened when one discovers that creams and gels have spilled onto clothes and other items in the travelling bag. Taking time to pack these items properly is vital for a good travel experience. It is also negative for the travel experience for one to throw away a favourite bottle of perfume or lotion for being over the 100ml limit. The pain is best imagined for someone to have waited in line for airport security and then discover some items must be abandoned.
To reduce chaos at the airport and subsequently improve upon the passenger experience, the government of the United Kingdom announced a deadline of June 2024 for most airports in the United Kingdom to install new high- tech 3D scanners which show more detailed images of baggage. An earlier date for installation was postponed as a result of the pandemic.
These scanners are very similar to CT scanners seen in hospitals. The effect of having them will be that the 100ml liquid rule will then be increased to two litres and also passengers will not go through the inconvenience of taking out electrical goods from their luggage at security.
This rule which is about to change has not always been in place. A story is told of a British man who was boarding a flight from the United Kingdom to the United States and Canada. He was believed to have played a significant role in the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot. This was a terrorist plot to detonate liquid explosives aboard airliners travelling from the United Kingdom to the United States and Canada, disguised as soft drinks. Some speculated that the explosives were strong enough to blow up ten planes.
The plot led to some measures being taken which were unprecedented security measures being initially implemented at airports. The measures were gradually relaxed during the following weeks, but passengers are still not allowed to carry liquid containers larger than 100 ml onto commercial aircraft in their hand luggage in the UK and most other countries, as of 2022.
Mark Harper, UK transport secretary, was reported to have told BBC that the new technology would reduce queue times to improve the “passenger experience, and most importantly, detect potential threats.”
Also, Christopher Snelling, policy director at the Airport Operators Association, which represents UK airports is reported to have said: “It will make the journey through the UK’s airports easier and air travel itself more pleasant.”
The technology is reported to already be in place in some US airports like Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson and Chicago’s O’Hare.
So the planning process for airports in Africa should not ignore these changes. New scanners will need to be ordered and procured. Foreign exchange will be required as these equipment may not be in manufacture in Africa.The approvals process may require some time to process as they might involve huge sums of money beyond that of the airport chief executive. It may become relevant in the not too distant future as a certification requirement for airports.
Perhaps a new synergy between aviation medicine and aviation security might be in place to make airports first ports of call for world class medical screening before medical tourism. The possibilities are endless with technology.
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