February 2024

A final farewell: the 100ml rule

Richard Mellor
Richard Mellor


The arrival of clever CT scanners at some airport security areas means the days of mini-toiletries are numbered – but will we miss them?

Fast forward a decade or so and you might no longer get to smugly enjoy the pre-security spectacle of your fellow flyers desperately rummaging through holdalls, hurriedly downing bottles of water or fruitlessly seeking out transparent resealable bags.

That’s thanks to the impending introduction of new, whizzy CT (computed tomography) security scanners – 3D versions of the pre-existing 2D examples. Here in the UK, a deadline has been set, with the Government instructing all airports to install said replacements by June this year. Once they’re in place, passengers need no longer place electronic devices in separate trays, nor adhere to the current 100ml limits for liquids or gels – with a whopping two litres per person becoming the new regulation instead. Passing through security should become a speedy breeze.

Still, this being the UK – a place where any slight weather aberration routinely disrupts train networks – there will, of course, be complications. While Teesside and London City are the class swots, with their new scanners already in place, and the likes of London Luton, Liverpool, Bristol and Glasgow set to meet that June deadline, other airports have already announced delays in completing the installations. Early 2025 looks likeliest for Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted.


Beware, though, that even when every last CT scanner is operational at British terminals, unless you’re bound for Miami, Munich, Amsterdam or Leonardo da Vinci International in Rome, which also boast this new tech, you’ll still have to respect that 100ml rule when returning from trips abroad. Which, for anyone only taking hand baggage, would make taking larger containers rather pointless, unless you plan to repeatedly drench yourself in perfume and apply suncream every 30 seconds, or simply leave your smellies behind.

Long-term, though, CT scanners should become the aviation norm, meaning that – having been standard global procedure ever since a foiled terror plot in 2006 – the end is nigh for those cute little bottles, jars and tubes.

And despite the great environmental downside of single-use plastic, there remains something seductive about travel miniatures. Perhaps it’s the fact that your bath bag fits a dozen of them. Or perhaps the answer lies in psychologist Kit Yarrow’s book Decoding the New Consumer Mind. The antidote to feeling anxious, Yarrow posits, is feeling in control – and easily finished things (such as, say, a mini-deodorant stick) deliver that.

Anyone already feeling bereft, however, can at least be cheered by some likely savings to follow. In 2019, research by MoneySavingExpert.com found mini-toiletries can cost as much as seven times more per millilitre than their full-sized equivalents. Given that evidence, bigger is most definitely better. So what do some regular travellers think?

Jane Knight, former travel editor of The Times

Favourite 100ml product? I transform an economy flight into something special with Ila’s travel pack of Little Face Treats. I particularly love the face oil for a glowing radiance that counters the dehydrating effects of flying.
Happy about the rule change? I can’t wait to be able to take water in my reusable bottle on all flights – after so often having to pay through the nose for plastic bottles that ruin the environment because of airports without water fountains.

Steve Robertshaw, PR manager for Visit Sweden

Favourite 100ml product? It’s got to be aftershave. A dash of Montblanc Individuel’s sandalwood masks any stale aromas when you’re waiting for a take-off slot or on the boarding bridge without air-con. I’m instantly elevated from “sweaty traveller” to “gentleman of the clouds”.
Happy about the rule change?
Whilst most of us have now got used to the 100ml rule, its demise will certainly make packing easier and speed up security.

Lizzie Pook, travel writer and author of Maude Horton’s Glorious Revenge 

Favourite 100ml product? Due to always feeling like a zombie without clean hair, I’ve been known to wash mine in airport sinks before drying it under the hand-drier – but dry shampoo is a much more elegant solution. My fave is Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Day miniature, which soaks up oil well and also smells delicious.
Happy about the rule change? As someone who often has to travel with bulky liquid medication*, the scrapping of the 100ml rule delights me – no more begging security staff to let me take through the thing that keeps me functioning!

*Passengers flying with British Airways can carry as much liquid medication as needed, provided a supporting prescription or doctor’s note is supplied. It should be ready for inspection by airport security but does not need to fit in the transparent bag. 

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James Treacy, director of global comms, Abercrombie & Kent

Favourite 100ml product? Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap has been a revelation on my global adventures. This all-in-one wonder washes everything from my hair to my hiking boots, with eco-friendly ingredients and a peppermint zing that’s as refreshing as a plunge into an Icelandic fjord. Frankly, it’s the Swiss Army knife of toiletries.

Happy about the rule change? It’s high time our beloved shampoos and creams got the VIP treatment they deserve, free from the confines of tiny plastic bags.

Susan D’Arcy, luxury travel specialist

Favourite 100ml product? I pack Oskia’s Super-C Beauty Capsules: they’re all you need under suncream (indeed, Vitamin C actually increases the sunscreen’s efficacy), while their Super-R Retinoid Capsules de-wrinkle my skin nicely at night. As capsules are single dose, you pack just what you need. They take up no space and weigh nothing, yet deliver maximum impact.
Happy about the rule change? In theory – but it'll be fairly meaningless unless your destination airport has the same security rules.

Abigail King, editor of Inside The Travel Lab

Favourite 100ml product? It’s Hycosan Dual eye drops for me: no matter how long or short the flight, my eyes feel better with these. After a long-haul journey, they’re almost enough to make me feel awake again. Unconvinced? Ask your optician if you’d benefit from ones with lubricating hyaluronic acid added.
Happy about the rule change? Oh yes – here’s to shorter security queues and the end of last-minute water guzzling!

This article has been tagged Technology, Travel Tips