The EU’s airport security rules regarding hand baggage and liquids have been in force for years but with tens of thousands litres of liquids and gels being confiscated at airports each day, this is not only stressful for passengers but just adds to the delays.

READ ALSO: Important news about carrying laptops through security

Danny Van Goethem, Head of Security at Brussels Airport says:

This is a pity on more than one level. Firstly, no passenger likes to be deprived of their drinks or toilet articles. Secondly, processing the many hundreds of bottles and containers is an immense task for our security services. Finally this leads to longer waiting queues at the security screening points, which again is bad news for the travellers.

So, in order to clarify what you can and can’t take through, we have answered here, some of the many questions travellers are asking:


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Q: How many of items of hand luggage can I take through airport security?

A: From 7 January 2008 the one item restriction was abandoned at certain airports. However, some airlines such as easyJet, regardless of airport rules, still apply the one bag rule diligently and may even refuse boarding even if your other bag is your handbag. Ryanair allow one small personal bag on board which must fit under the seat in front of you. This means it cannot be larger than 40cmx 20cm x 25cm and it can be handbag, laptop bag or a small backpack.

Make sure you find out in advance the rules of the airport you are travelling from and also of the airline that will be carrying you. These can differ greatly.

Our Advice: Make life easy, just plan for one piece of hand luggage per person.

Q: Can I take a drink through Security?

A: No

Q: Liquids are not allowed in, but can I carry through a bottle of water I am drinking at the time?

A: No you cannot. This will be confiscated whether you are still drinking it, or is unopened regardless if this is a bottle or can. This includes coffee or other hot drinks, and any other cold drink you are supping.

Our Advice: Finish your drink before you get to security

Q: I’m still not entirely sure about what liquids I can take through?

A: You can take through various liquids – such as perfume – in different containers, but the container itself should not be able to hold more than 100ml. The limit is 1 litre so the maximum 100ml containers is 10.

These should be carried through the airport in a single transparent re-sealable plastic bag – like a freezer bag. The bag itself should not carry more than 1 litre (20cm x 20cm).

All the containers should fit comfortably and the bag should be sealed. Inside there should be no more than 10 containers of 100ml bringing the combined volume to no more than one litre. Plus, you are allowed only one bag per person and this should be carried separately for easy examination.

Our Advice: Do you really need to carry all those toiletries in hand-luggage? Anything more than 100ml will be confiscated anyway. So, if you have checked-in luggage, pack it. Alternatively, buy them at the airport once you have gone through security.

Q: Okay, but what is a liquid? Is my mascara a liquid?

A: Yes, your mascara and other make-up items like foundation, are considered liquids. So are your creams, lotions, oils and perfumes. Toiletries such as sprays and pressurized containers including shaving foam and spray deodorants, all types of pastes, including toothpaste, gels, including hair and shower gel and any other solution of similar consistency are all to be treated as liquids.

Our Advice: If in doubt, treat it as a liquid. If its more than 100ml, pack it. Or buy it once you have passed through security.

Q: What about my medicines?

A: You can take this, but only as much as you need for the duration of the trip, even if this exceeds the 100ml limit. But you will be required to prove the need. You will need prior agreement from the airline you are travelling with and bring a doctor’s note.

Q: I need to feed my baby, surely I can carry baby food?

A: You can take as much liquid baby food or sterilised water required for the journey itself. You may be asked to taste it. You can top up by buying more from the shops on the other side of security or at your destination.

Individual containers of breast milk must hold no more than 2,000ml and you cannot take frozen breast milk.

Q: Can I take nail scissors and tweezers in my hand luggage?

A: No, these items will be confiscated. But you can pack these items into your checked-in luggage.

Q: Can I take hair straighteners through airport security in my hand luggage.

A: Yes, you can.

Q: Can I take my phone and iPod through security?

A: Yes you can. You will be asked to remove these from your pocket or bag and place it in a separate container along with any change and keys so that it can be scanned.

Q: Can I take my camera in my had luggage?

A: Yes you can.

Q. I have now arrived at my destination but don’t want to spend the day dragging my luggage around with me. What can I do?

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A Word About Prohibited Products

It is a sad fact that today’s travellers do face security threats and it makes sense that security measures are taken at the airport. Apply a generous dollop of common sense to decide what you think can be reasonably taken through security and on board.

There are some items which cannot be carried in hand luggage or onto the plane and some that can be packed into check-in luggage. Here is a round up of those items:

Items NOT allowed in hand luggage but CAN be packed into check-in luggage:

  • Scissors (except where both blades are round-ended)
  • Toy guns
  • Razor blades
  • Liquids

Items NOT allowed in hand or check-in luggage:

  • Explosives: e.g. Fireworks, flares, ammunition, party poppers
  • Gases: e.g. Propane camping gas, compressed gas cylinders
  • Flammable Liquids: e.g. Lighter fluid, thinners, petrol
  • Flammable Solids: e.g. Fire lighters, Magnesium
  • Oxidisers: e.g. Bleaches, car body repair kits
  • Toxic/Infectious Substances: e.g. Weed killer, infected blood samples, insecticides
  • Radioactive Materials: e.g. Medical or industrial sources
  • Corrosives: e.g. Dry ice, magnetised material, Mercury

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