One of the most asinine things about airport travel is traveling through airport security. Thanks to a foiled terrorist plot in 2006 that involved explosives in soft drinks, countries around the world banned liquids in carry-ons before settling on the “3-1-1 rule.”
For more than a decade, passengers have only been permitted to carry liquids that are 3.4 fluid oz or less that are carried in a one-quart size bag. The 3-1-1 rule can be one of the most tedious for people who pack strictly carry-ons (those who always check a bag, however, have escaped the annoyance). It’s led to lots of water bottle chugging in the security line and plenty of liquidy food thrown away. It’s also meant that if you pack your favorite full-size bottle of lotion in your carry-on, intentionally or by accident, then you can kiss it goodbye at airport security as it goes straight in the trash, forcing you to buy new travel-sized products, get reusable travel carriers, and spend time squeezing everything out into the strictly sized bottles.
New technology, however, means the reign of the 3-1-1 rule may come to an end. Many airports are updating scanner technology to CT scanners. In September 2021, the TSA announced a $198 million investment for more CT X-Ray scanners at airport checkpoints. CT scanners are more sophisticated because they can check bags in 3-D at 360 degrees and assess if any substance presents a threat. Thanks to these scanners, the Shannon airport in the Republic of Ireland has become the first airport to say goodbye to stringent liquid rules.
The airport specifies that passengers can now take liquids, gels, pastes, lotions, and cosmetics in containers of any size through the passenger security point, including “water, baby food, medicines and other beverages, aerosol cans and toiletries like toothpaste, shaving cream, hair gel, lip gloss, and creams.” All items must be in resealable containers and your bag should have liquids at the top.
Keep in mind that this is the first of its kind. So if you’re flying round-trip, you might want to stick by the old rules anyway or simplify things by checking a bag. Hopefully these changes will make their way to the US soon.