Correction to This Article
A graphic with a Sept. 26 article about liquids that can be carried aboard U.S. commercial airliners contained incorrect information from the Transportation Security Administration. Air travelers are allowed to bring through security up to three ounces, not four, of eyedrops, saline solution, personal lubricants, and nonprescription liquid or gel medications. Medically necessary items that exceed three ounces must be declared and submitted for inspection by a security officer.

U.S. Eases Carry-On Liquid Ban

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By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Passengers on commercial airplanes will be allowed to travel with small amounts of liquids and gels in their carry-on luggage starting this morning -- the first major revision of a ban enacted last month in reaction to an alleged transatlantic bomb plot.

Drinks purchased inside secure areas also will be permitted on board.

Top U.S. aviation security officials, under pressure from airline and passenger groups, announced the easing of restrictions yesterday after, they said, they carefully studied the threat posed by liquid bombs. The restrictions, which went into effect on Aug. 10, disrupted travel for many passengers. Travelers complained about long lines to check in luggage, lengthy waits at the baggage carousels and the lack of bottled water on planes. Many took calculated risks and sneaked small amounts of hair gel and toothpaste through security.

Starting at 4 a.m. today, passengers will be allowed to bring on board containers holding three ounces or less of toiletries, such as lip gloss, hair spray, toothpaste and shaving cream. The products must fit "comfortably" inside a single, one-quart clear plastic bag that zips closed, officials said. The bag will be examined by X-ray machines and screeners.

Larger bottles of liquids and gels must be placed in checked bags or left at home, officials said.

After passing through security, passengers will be permitted to buy bottled water and other drinks in "sterile" gate areas and carry them onto planes. Authorities said they made that change because products inside the sterile areas have been screened by security officers and do not pose a threat.

"What you see here today is the prudent balancing of the work that we need to do to protect security and common sense," said Michael P. Jackson, deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, at a news conference yesterday at Reagan National Airport.

Airline and passenger groups had been privately pushing authorities to alter the bans, which were implemented after British authorities said they discovered a plot to bring down transatlantic flights with liquid explosives.

Trade groups reacted enthusiastically to the revisions, saying business travelers welcomed the chance to resume carrying on their luggage rather than checking most everything. The volume of checked bags rose 20 percent after the ban was enacted. "It's a really positive change for business travelers . . . because they normally wouldn't have to check their bags to get their toiletries on board," said Caleb Tiller, spokesman for the National Business Travel Association. "This is a very good change. People are pretty pleased."

James C. May, president of the Air Transport Association, a trade group that represents major U.S. airlines, said the changes "put into place a security regimen that is consistent with the threat."

Top aviation security officials said researchers have studied how liquid explosives can damage aircraft. The tests and the analysis of bomb threats led officials to change the ban, they said.

"We now know enough to say that a total ban is no longer needed from a security point of view," said Kip Hawley, the head of the Transportation Security Administration, which provides security at more than 400 U.S. airports.

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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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