Birmingham Airport bosses have blamed the chaotic long queues that incensed passengers last week on a government U-turn on the hand luggage liquid limit.

The Department for Transport quietly reintroduced the rule across the whole country on Sunday morning which prevents people from carrying liquids greater than 100ml. 

Airport bosses say it is ‘imperative’ holidaymakers follow the limit as it comes under intense pressure over security delays that caused queues to snake out of the entrance for as long as two hours yesterday. 

Insiders have claimed queues could last for months and the airport is ‘understaffed’, leaving employees ‘overworked’ and ‘struggling’. 

Nick Barton, CEO of Birmingham Airport, warned just ‘one non-compliant bag can add up to 20 minutes to each passenger’s journey through security’.  

Birmingham Airport passengers were stuck in queues which snaked outside of the entrance

Birmingham Airport passengers were stuck in queues which snaked outside of the entrance 

Long queues outside Birmingham Airport can be seen on Sunday in a video posted to X

Long queues outside Birmingham Airport can be seen on Sunday in a video posted to X

The airport thought officials were going to lift the limit from June 1 after Covid delayed the original deadline. 

It had ‘designed and resourced’ a new privately funded £60 million security screening hall fitted with scanners that are able to check larger bottles. 

But the DfT said on Friday the 100ml limit would ‘temporarily be reintroduced’ from Sunday amid concerns over whether the new technology was secure enough, reported the Telegraph

Mr Barton said the airport is continually seeing non-compliant bags, despite the legal limits. 

‘Since opening our new security area, and despite being one of the first UK airports to comply, we have been limited on the use of our multi-million-pound equipment due to an outstanding regulatory restriction meaning we had to limit liquids to 100ml,’ he told the BBC

‘Despite the 100ml rule still being in place, we continually have non-compliant bags with liquids over the allowance which have led to inefficiencies of our equipment and resulted in extended queuing time for customers.

‘It is now imperative that all customers comply with the nationwide rule to ensure a smoother and simpler transition through the airport.’

The disruptions at Birmingham Airporty began on Thursday when long lines formed amid confusion over new 100ml liquid rules and 3D baggage scanners.

Furious passengers waited hours to get through security after the airport installed a new technology that allows people to travel with liquids up to two litres in their bags. 

An unnamed employee told BirminghamLive that passengers complain to him about missed or delayed flights regularly and said the situation is ‘really bad’.

The video was taken of the queue for security at 5.18am on Sunday

The video was taken of the queue for security at 5.18am on Sunday

By the time the passengers who posted the video had made it through security their flight was making final boarding calls

By the time the passengers who posted the video had made it through security their flight was making final boarding calls

The disruptions began on Thursday when long lines formed amid confusion over new 100ml liquid rules and 3D baggage scanners

The disruptions began on Thursday when long lines formed amid confusion over new 100ml liquid rules and 3D baggage scanners

Furious passengers have waited hours to get through security after the airport installed a new technology which allows people to travel with liquids up to two litres in their bags

Furious passengers have waited hours to get through security after the airport installed a new technology which allows people to travel with liquids up to two litres in their bags

Frustrated passengers have been facing hours-long queues as they make their way through airport security

Frustrated passengers have been facing hours-long queues as they make their way through airport security

Huge lines have been seen outside the terminal, snaking around the side of the building

Huge lines have been seen outside the terminal, snaking around the side of the building 

The issue apparently stems from a shortage of staff and the time it has taken to complete the new security hall upgrade, with the source adding that the airport should have employed extra security staff to combat these problems.

How 3D scanners are to spell the end for 100ml liquid limits

The current rules on liquids states that flyers are only allowed to carry containers of 100ml in hand luggage. 

This year, however, passengers at select airports will be able to carry 330ml containers (2L) through security.

Similar to those used in hospitals, new CT scanners take high-resolution 3D images allowing luggage to be checked precisely without the need to remove items, thus speeding up the security process. 

It means travellers will be able to leave liquids, laptops and electronics inside their baggage when they walk through security.

Baggage rules will still vary between different airlines, so passengers are urged to check before travelling. 

In response, airport bosses said a ‘continual recruitment campaign for security officers’ is in place and added that missed or delayed flights are ‘not necessarily’ their fault.

The issues started on Thursday, with long queues forming as the new rules for carrying liquids sparked confusion amongst passengers.

The chaos hadn’t eased up on Friday and over the weekend people turned up three hours early for their flight but still found themselves stuck in long lines at security.

Birmingham Airport met the deadline at the start of this month to install new 3D baggage scanners, but officials at the West Midlands hub decided to combine both the old and the new rules for carrying liquids ‘until further notice’.

The airport said the former 100ml limits still apply, but passengers will be allowed to carry them inside their hand luggage instead of getting them out to be screened separately in clear bags.

Alongside the security delays with the new technology, ‘on-going building works on-site’ have added to the ‘usual busy morning’ as customers have waited in ‘long and skinny queues’, the airport added. 

Birmingham Airport has since installed ‘liquid stations’ at all of its entrances in which staff are helping passengers remove liquids over 100ml from their hand luggage before they enter security. 

‘The outdoor queues seen today are from “liquid check stations”, a spokesperson for the airport said. 

‘With these additional checks we have seen a large proportion of customers still arriving with liquids over 100ml in their bags and these have to be regrettably removed and disposed of. Containers that can carry more than a 100ml are permitted but, need to be completely empty. Our security flow rate has been continuous today, helped by these extra checks and we welcome and appreciate the co-operation of our passengers in eliminating oversize liquids from their cabin baggage.

‘It is now, more than ever, imperative that customers abide by the 100ml rule. This additional layer of control risks slowing down the security process without the support of passengers.

‘We have continually planned for this transition from our old security area, to our new, and had considered the impact of the building works, new equipment, and the unfamiliar queuing areas. We have around a million passengers use our airport each month, the majority of whom have a good experience despite the ongoing construction works.’

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