UK airports may start restricting powders in hand luggage

Decanting our liquids into travel bottles and squeezing all our toiletries into those little plastic bags has become second nature to us. But now the UK government is reportedly considering restricting powder products too.

Items such as cosmetics, protein powders, coffee and talcum powders would all be subject to new rules if the government goes forward with the new security measures, which are already in place in the US and Australia. Bad news if you get round the liquid restrictions by packing powder formulations instead.

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Just as with liquids, gels and aerosols currently, holidaymakers would have to present their powders separately for screening. There would also be a limit on the amount of powder you can take in hand luggage.

In Australia, powders taken into the cabin must not exceed 350ml in volume, or 350g in weight, so it would be more generous than the liquid allowance. But the quantity is still based on the total container volume. Australian rules differ for ‘organic’ powders like baby formula, most cosmetics, and protein powders; they don’t have volume restrictions, but still have to be presented at security.

Confused? Us too. And it’s likely to cause delays through airport security if new, complicated rules are introduced.

Why are powders problematic?

The new measures are being considered following a bomb plot – which thankfully was not successful – on an Etihad flight from Sydney to Dubai in July 2017. The explosive, which presumably contained a powdered substance, was hidden inside a Barbie doll and a meat grinder in the suspect’s hand-luggage. Because the bag exceeded carry-on limits, he was stopped and caught at security.

Speaking to The Independent, a Department of Transport spokesperson said: ‘The safety and security of the public is our top priority, and the UK has some of the most robust aviation security measures in the world. It is for each country to determine its own security measures based on its own assessments. We work closely with all our international partners to keep aviation security under constant review, but for obvious reasons we do not comment on specifics.’