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Europe to Eliminate Liquid Ban by 2013

The European Union (E.U.) announced it will begin phasing out its liquid ban as it adds security screening equipment that can detect explosive liquids in passengers’ bags. The ban is expected to be fully eliminated by mid-2013, sooner than previous estimates.

The New York Times reports that the first step toward ending the ban will involve duty-free liquids, and is expected to take effect next year. Duty-free liquids “purchased at duty-free shops outside the E.U. or aboard non-E.U. airlines would be allowed in hand luggage beginning next year, provided they are sealed within tamper-proof bags and screened before boarding.”

So, if the technology exists, what’s the likelihood of the U.S. following the E.U.’s lead and getting rid of the liquid ban? Well, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has floated the idea in the past, but hasn’t offered any concrete plans to get rid of it.

But pilot and columnist Patrick Smith thinks it’s probably in the TSA’s best interest to get in line with Europe. “Considering the potential complications involving transit passengers arriving from Europe, they’re going to have little choice,” Smith writes, “unless they wish to turn the average American security checkpoint into an even crazier place than it already is.” Imagine a passenger flying from London to Los Angeles via New York, and you get the picture: Liquids in the carry-on are fine for the London-New York leg, but a no-no between New York and L.A.

Of course, considering the silliness of the ban itself, it’s probably wise to not expect much. 

Readers, do you think the liquid ban should be lifted, or do you think it’s an important part of keeping our airlines safe?

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