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Spanish Airports to Drop Carry-On Liquid Restrictions from 2024

Following a similar move by U.K. authorities, travelers in Spain will soon be able to take more than 100ml of liquid in their carry-on luggage

by Lauren Smith

February 27, 2023

Photo: Madrid Barajas Airport. Courtesy of Pedro Novales / Unsplash

Starting next year, travelers passing through Madrid-Barajas (MAD) and Barcelona-El Prat (BCN) airports in Spain will be able to carry more than 100ml (3oz) of liquid in their carry-on bags. They won’t need to separate their electronics at security checkpoints.

Aena, the state-owned company in charge of all public-interest airports in Spain, announced that it would invest in new 3D X-ray scanners at the country’s major airports. Comparable to the CT scanners used at hospitals to visualize the inside of the human body, these next-generation scanners will allow airport security staff to zoom in on items in passengers’ luggage and rotate them for a clearer view. The system can also automatically recognize objects to augment the operator’s visual inspection.

Photo: Courtesy of CHUTTERSNAP / Unsplash

The scanners have already been successfully trialed at London’s Heathrow (LHR), Gatwick (LGW), and Stansted (STN) airports and 15 airports in the United States.

The technology eliminates the need for passengers to remove laptops and tablets from their hand luggage for separate screening and makes the previous 100ml limit on liquids obsolete.

Along with many other countries, Spain introduced the 100ml cap on liquids, gels, and pastes in 2006, following the foiling of a terrorist plot to detonate liquid explosives on flights from the U.K. to the U.S. The new security measures have been in place ever since, requiring travelers to ditch toiletries and drink bottles at deposit checkpoints or rely on travel sizes.

But at the end of last year, the U.K. government announced that it will relax cabin bag rules at airports from June 2024 as new 3D scanners are introduced at its airports.

Spain will join it, installing the scanners first at Madrid and Barcelona airports at the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024. The new technology and streamlined carry-on rules will debut at airports at Palma de Mallorca (PMI) and Malaga-Costa del Sol (AGP) in 2025.

Checking in at the airport / Photo: Unsplash+In collaboration with Getty Images

In 2026, the rules will also be eased at Gran Canaria (LPA), Tenerife Sur (TFS), Lanzarote (ACE), Fuerteventura (FUE), Alicante (ALC), Ibiza (IBZ), Menorca (MAH), Valencia (VLC), and Bilbao (BIO) airports.

At these airports, passengers can pack up to 2 liters of liquid in their carry-on luggage, meaning they can bring bottles of wine and olive oil back from Spain. They also won’t be required to unpack electronics from their bags, easing their journey through security and decreasing waiting times and crowds.

Other carry-on restrictions will remain in place, including the ban on corkscrews, knives, scissors longer than 6cm, non-safety matches, more than one lighter, fireworks, flares, and explosives.

The new scanners are part of a larger project by Aenas to modernize security systems at Spanish airports, which will also include the installation of automated lines and biometric controls at security checkpoints. Between 2018 and 2028, Aena will invest €1.17 ($1.23) billion in physical security measures at the airports it manages.