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The U.K. announced it will begin phasing out the liquid ban on carry-on items larger than 100 ml in April. According to the Guardian, transport secretary Philip Hammond "confirmed that the first phase in relaxing the ban, which applies to liquids, aerosols and gels in containers greater than 100ml, will begin in April next year."
However, a full repeal of the ban won't be complete until 2013. "The majority of passengers will have to wait until 2013 before the measures are scrapped," the Guardian reports. For now, it's not entirely clear what changes travelers will see in April.
Airports have until 2013 (April 29, to be exact) to acquire and implement scanners that can analyze liquids to identify any dangers. The rest of the European Union (E.U.) will end the ban simultaneously in 2013.
Lifting the restrictions will allow connecting passengers with duty-free purchases from non-E.U. countries—whiskey, perfume, and so forth— to bring those liquids through security in the U.K. Currently, connecting passengers are often forced to discard those purchases if they have to exit and reenter the secure areas in U.K. airports, though that rule does not apply to travelers coming from the U.S., Canada, or E.U.
So if the technology exists to end the ban, and the entire E.U. can decide to do so, why hasn't the U.S. issued a definitive plan to phase out the 3-1-1 rule? It's really difficult to make an argument. The U.S. has been testing this type of technology, but has offered no plans for implementing the devices and phasing out the policy.
Further, it makes sense for the TSA to end the ban when the E.U. does. Just imagine the chaos and confusion at U.S. airports as planeloads of travelers arrive only to find their bottles of shampoo and duty-free liquor are persona non grata here.
So: Get it done, TSA. Enough harmless water bottles have been sacrificed in the name of security. If the U.K. and E.U. can make this sort of promise to travelers, the TSA should as well.
Readers, what do you think about the U.K. rule change? Is it long past time for the TSA to get rid of the 3-1-1 rule?