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The first UK airport with 100% ‘don’t unpack’ security scanners is …. Teesside

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Despite London City Airport publicising its move to an entire suite of ‘next generation’ security scanners by April 2023, it has been pipped for first place.

Teesside International Airport has become the first in the UK to be fully ready for the upcoming changes to security rules.

Teesside International AIrport new security scanners

The Government has set a June 2024 deadline for airports to install ‘next generation’ security scanners. These produce 3D images of your belongings and allow you to leave liquids and large electrical items in your cabin baggage. Amsterdam Schiphol has been using these scanners for some time and trial machines have been in place at other UK airports – London City currently has one, I think, alongside an old-style machine.

The 100ml limit on liquids will remain for now, albeit that liquids no longer need to be placed in a clear plastic bag.

The limit will be raised to 2 litres at some point in the future but, of course, this won’t help you if you are returning from an airport which doesn’t have the new style scanners. You shouldn’t throw away those clear plastic bags just yet …..

Phil Forster, Teesside Airport Managing Director, said:

“It’s a source of great pride and satisfaction that our international airport is the first in the UK to be fully prepared for the rule changes. Our facilities have come on leaps and bounds in the past three years – and I can’t wait for what 2023 has in store.”

You can read more on the Teesside International website here.

Comments (80)

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  • PaulC says:

    For the first time yesterday we were “that family” holding up the queue at Manchester. As it was our first flight with our 6 month old and him requiring prescribed milk and oxygen whilst sleeping we had to unpack roughly 25 bottles of milk, various medication bottles and 2 POC machines for them to scan them individually along with all the other baby accessories that come with them. Thankfully we didn’t need to go through it again at LHR for our connection but these machines will be a god send although I’m hoping we won’t need the medication, prescribed milk and POC’s the next time we decide to go on holiday. We got to use them at Heathrow last year when they were trialing them, so much time saved and no lengthy queues.

  • riku says:

    >> take a look at this article from Passenger Terminal Today. Whilst passengers have less work to do, the scanners themselves are up to four times slower than current models
    The article is not referring to the baggage scanners being slower but says that new style BODY scanners are up to 4x slower and warns that the cabin baggage will go through scanning quickly but people be stuck in a queue waiting for BODY scanning due to 4x longer body scanning with c3 xray vs WTMD

    • BJ says:

      Sounds not so good despite being less hassle. I think the problem we encounter owe more to management than technology. Here at EDI, LHR and indeed many airports around the world the flow of passengers through security is very poorly managed. The problem IMO stems from having far too many passengers unpacking bags at the same time upstream of the scanners and then waiting to collect them downstream. When security is very busy this creates a very stressful atmosphere as many feel intimidate and a need to rush to avoid holding everybody up, and they worry about being separated from their belongings for extended periods. The problem is compounded by the extra challenges some face such as a family with toddlers or some less able passengers. Even when this management process is flowing smoothly it is bad enough but when bags spend longer in scanner, scanner malfunctions or staff changes then the whole thing backs up and becomes even worse. It is all very unfortunate because the solution is simple and I have seen it work well at a number of airports. Security lines are held back so that no more than 2 or 3 solo passengers or couples, a family or group are preparing bags upstream of scanners at the same time. This approach is certainly more relaxing and less stressful and as a result of that I believe it’s probably faster overall too as security staff have fewer passengers to supervise and assist at a time and the passengers are less likely to make mistakes as a result of that and being less stressed.

      • Derek Scott says:

        Not sure I agree with some of this. I’ve worked EDI security and there are pax behaviours that cause most of the problems…
        1) too much hand luggage per pax meaning they need multiple trays each (partly due to each item not overlapping), & shoving them over in front of other trays.
        2) passengers not ready at the prep/ tray loading, taking too long to retrieve items from bags
        3) bags larger than the airline rules do slow down the x-ray reviewer to review and decide if the bag is cleared or not. There’s a set number of secs to clear the bag and if this timeline it breached, the bag fails the check and it’s passed for manual search*
        4) passengers STILL leave liquids in bags, causing unnecessary bag searches
        5) *manual searches where it’s timed out are searches where the full bag is emptied/ checked and takes a few mins longer than targeted searches where screening has identified an item for a manual check
        6) the most common cause of back-up is the number of bags waiting to be manually searched ( in EDI the limit is about 8 trays per lane), or trays not collected/removed from the cleared side. When either is backed up, no more bags can progress past the decision plate (this moves the bag to the manual search side), so no more bags can move through the x-ray, causing a knock on effect of pax waiting to push their loaded trays onto the belt.

        Key frustration all Security officers have is the numbskull hen/stag parties that think it’s funny to embarrass the Bride/Groom, by strapping a sex toy to a bottle of water in their hand luggage so that it’s manually searched & found… causing unnecessary & wasting time and inconvenience.

        Re the Family point: EDI run a separate Family lane (lane 1) at peak times due to the added baby food/water bottle factors and it helps not clog up multiple lanes (never take baby food that has banana in it)!

        Staff changes are normally 1-for-1 swaps and planned well to account for 15min pax headcount forecasts. Each lane can have 3 manual searches at once (more than LHR).

        EDI is one of few airports where the x-ray screeners are unseen, in a large screening room, so every lane will visibly have one less staffer, but DoT rules mean staff have to rotate every 20-25 mins).

        So personally, anything that reduces the time it takes to load and unload at security lanes will be a massive benefit… and lots of communications needed for the transition period where liquid sizes are still restricted

        • Colin MacKinnon says:

          What’s the issue with bananas?

          • Derek Scott says:

            High potassium levels set off the food scanners for baby food. It then means a manual test opening the pack… it’ll likely still be cleared but it just slows things down

        • BJ says:

          Hi Derek, thanks very much for this very interesting feedback. The bottom line is I dread going through security at EDI (and elsewhere) for the reasons I described. This is despite the efforts of your colleagues whom I have always found to be friendly, polite, calm, patient and supportive. I think some of the contributory passenger behaviours you describe are brought on in part by the stress induced by the security flow design and can be alleviated by having smaller numbers at the prep areas and scanners at one time. Unfortunately this is not true of many of the other reasons you cite so I now understand better the issues from your perspective. Personally I dislike the security screening process so much that I have made my own efforts to keep it as simple for me as possible. I alwats carry both a 55cm bag and small backpack in compliance with tickets. I pack only clothes in the 55cm bag with items that need to be removed or might trigger manual screening only in the backpack. So far it works for me but still it often feels like chaos all around as a result of the factors you describe.

          • Dave Johnson says:

            EDI is just a cramped, poorly designed airport and they keep trying to shoehorn in more into it.

            Have an ex-colleague who worked there who said that their main aim is for it to be a feeder to LON airports rather than good point to point airport. It certainly shows.

    • Rob says:

      You are right. Have removed that line. Thank you.

  • Gtellez says:

    LHR T5 was trialling two of these scanners last week for connecting passengers, but although more comfortable I don’t think it was faster at all, I would say it was the opposite.

  • rev_lou says:

    I assume these scanners use the same technology as those in the US (which look like mini MRI scanners). If so, they work well and did not seem any slower than Terminal 5 current scanners.

  • NFH says:

    Why do security staff at UK airports insist that laptops are not only taken out of luggage, but even removed from any protective fabric sleeve? In other countries, they require laptops only to be removed from one’s luggage. In contrast, UK airports don’t require protective covers to be removed from tablets or phones.

    • CamFlyer says:

      The US also requires laptops to be removed from protective sleeves.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      I’ve never been asked to remove my laptop from a protective sleeve

    • lumma says:

      Latvia require all electrical items to be taken out of the bag. I had to take my laptop, camera, three lenses and battery pack out of my bag there.

      They were also the most extreme EU immigration check since Brexit too. Looked at every stamp I had, which is a lot, wanted proof of accommodation, how long I’m there for. Judging by how slow the line was moving, everyone got the same treatment. Italy on the other hand puts everyone in the same egate queue and the only difference is you have to see the officer to get stamped but that’s all, passport handed over, stamp, handed back

  • TerryTierPoints says:

    I’ve used one of these so called next generation scanners at LCY… it was a disaster. The vast majority of people were having their bags manually searched after the scanner, presumably due to scanner false positives. This lead to a large queue after the scanner.
    Those in the parallel queue using the traditional scanner were through much quicker despite having to unpack a couple of items in the queue up to the scanner.
    My partner was selected for the traditional scanner and had to wait ages for me while I queued for a manual check.

    • Rhys says:

      Given the widespread use of these scanners at other airports that would be an outlier I think…!

      • rickm says:

        Not an outlier. AMS for example has been using these for a long time, but an inordinate percentage of bags get pulled for secondaries, compared to the traditional scanners and liquids/laptops out of bags.
        From what I’ve seen, this is generally not due to false positives but, other than random selection, that the scanner operator assesses the 3D picture and tends to decide to move to secondary if more risk adverse, usually due to lack of training/experience.

        • lumma says:

          +1 as long as I can remember I’ve not had a bag search at any UK airport, due to following the rules correctly, except with the new scanner at LCY.

  • Tomasz Skrzypczak says:

    Went to Israel the other week, the only thing they were interested in were laptops to take them out of the bag. The same was in Qatar. UK shops after security check will go ballistic if you don’t have to buy £3 water bottle because you brought your own from home 🙂

    • NFH says:

      At LCY for example, there’s a café that will happily fill up water bottles for free. Other airports have water fountains.

    • yorkieflyer says:

      Every country seem to obsess on different stuff, which is half of the problem, Thailand worries about power banks big time

      • Fraser says:

        The Phillipines seems to fear sellotape could be used for some nefarious purposes onboard!

        • Bill Carson says:

          And don’t leave an umbrella in your hand luggage in China unless you want to get in trouble. I have no idea what it is about umbrellas that’s so serious, power banks I can kind of understand.

      • James Harper says:

        So does Helsinki – if you have a power bank take it out and have it scanned separately because if you don’t your bag will be pulled even though they now have very advanced scanners.

    • jjoohhnn says:

      There are loads of water bottle filling stations.. there are no restrictions on taking empty reusable bottles to fill up after security!

  • Barks says:

    The scanners at LCY are a nightmare and we fly from there all the time for work. It saves so much hassle up until the point your bag then gets sidelined so they can test the liquids. Maybe I need to try a different cologne!

    • NFH says:

      LCY security does like to sideline a lot of trays, which all end up in a long queue for 5 to 10 minutes, while passengers have to wait. Often the staff who carry out the secondary screening of the contents of the tray do not know what caused it.

      • yorkieflyer says:

        Apparently some of it is auto random selection

        • Pete M says:

          I came here just to moan about the LCY scanners, glad I’m not the only one! My bag ends up in secondary screening every time with those machines because of a laptop or iPad. If I take it out they shout at me to leave it in…

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