From today, there will be a first step towards easing the current liquids restrictions at EU airports. Most passengers who fly will notice no change at all, but in fact airports will be obliged to screen certain liquids at passenger security checkpoints. This first step is deliberately targeted at a very limited number of liquids so as to minimise any possible disruption.
For passengers, the change concerns duty-free liquids bought at airports outside the EU, or onboard non-EU air carriers. Provided these duty-free liquids are packed in the security bag issued at the time of purchase, passengers may transfer with it at an EU airport on to a connecting flight. Until now, such duty-free liquids, as a general rule, have been confiscated.
For example, at the moment, if a passenger buys a bottle of duty-free whiskey in Hong Kong and flies to Helsinki, before transferring to Brussels, the duty-free whiskey would normally be confiscated at Helsinki, as the EU cannot determine whether it comes from a secure source. From 31st January 2014, provided the duty-free is sealed in a security bag, that will not happen. The bottle of duty-free whiskey bought in Hong Kong will be screened at the passenger security checkpoint at Helsinki, as the passenger transfers to board a flight for Brussels.
The change enhances security and makes it more convenient and simpler. This is an important step towards the removal of all liquid restrictions in the future. Moreover, it enhances the level of security as it is the start of mandatory screening of liquids in the EU. If this first phase is successful then, based on the experience gained, further liquids may qualify for screening, with a view to ending all liquid restrictions by 2016.