BRITISH airports are to scrap the ban on liquids in hand luggage from April and implement a series of security reforms after protests from passengers and airline operators over excessive checks.
Current restrictions on liquids are so strict that passengers must surrender tiny bottles of water, cosmetics, perfumes and baby food before entering departure lounges.
Philip Hammond, the British transport secretary, wants to make the system “more flexible” and said he particularly sympathised with parents of small children who had to open and taste jars of “mush” and bottles of baby milk to demonstrate they were genuine.
“I have seen mothers tasting it, and doesn’t it taste foul?” he said.
“The good news is that by 2013 the ban on mush will have ended.” The ban was introduced by the European Union in 2006 after a failed plot to blow up transatlantic airliners with liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks.
Britain sets its own procedures on liquids, within wider EU rules.
In April this year the EU indicated that the ban could be lifted in 2013 after the development of technology to identify explosives in liquids.
Despite technology to detect explosives in boots and shoes, many passengers continue to be forced to remove their footwear because of government rules.
Airport operators will soon be able to decide what checks to undertake, provided they meet certain standards.
The government will scrutinise and approve plans by individual operators.
The changes are likely to lead to different procedures in different UK airports, though Hammond said they would all have the same