No more mandatory tiny bottles of shampoo. No further need for miniature toothpaste containers. No more worries about gels, aerosols and liquids in your carry-on luggage.
That's the reality travellers might see in 2016 thanks to new screening machines which could do away with the current restrictions on carry-on luggage.
The machines are expected to roll out at the end of January 2014 in Canada, the U.S. and Australia. They're part of a multi-phase plan to eventually end the restriction first imposed in 2006, according to documents from the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN agency focused on aviation safety and one which Canada is a part of.
The machines will first be tested on items currently permitted on planes -- things like baby food and prescription medicine -- in order to see if they can detect the difference between baby formula and materials for a homemade bomb. Provided everything goes to the ICAO's plan, this could spell the end of a seven-year inconvenience for travellers, reports the Toronto Star.
Details on how the machine will detect dangerous substances are still scarce, but physicists already have designed a scanner to ID and catalogue liquids, aerosols or gels (LAGs). Dubbed the LS10, the high-tech scanner is approved in the E.U and could be used by the Transportation Security Administration in the States.
The idea is to use radio pulses to determine the material of a container. and then use ultrasound waves to scan the substance inside. In a matter of seconds, the container's chemical properties appear and are checked against a database of harmful items, reports Inside Science.
Currently, travellers in Canadian airports can only pack liquids, aerosols or gels in carry-on bags if they're in containers 100 ml/100 grams (3.4 oz) or less and fit in one clear, closed, resealable plastic bag no more than one litre in capacity, notes the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
Travelling with LAGs greater than the restricted amount often meant a second piece of luggage was necessary to carry things like toiletries. For the first few years, it was an easy workaround, until airlines started charging for checked baggage.
But the restrictions were never meant to be permanent, just “a temporary restriction to be lifted when suitable technology to screen liquids for explosives became readily available,” notes Canada.com.
Originally, the restrictions were put into place shortly after a failed terrorist plot to blow up several Transatlantic flights using liquid explosives disguised as drinks. The plot, originally hatched in Britain, targeted flights from London's Heathrow airport to cities including Toronto, Montreal, New York Chicago, Washington and San Francisco, according to the BBC.
Also on HuffPost:
Guns (821 Of Them!)
Let's start with guns, because there're just so damn many of them. The TSA reports that it's confiscated 821 firearms in 2012 to date (691 of which were loaded). Some were stowed away in creative places, like in <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-portland-passenger.html" target="_hplink">a potted plant</a> or <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/gun-parts-found-hidden-in-stuffed-animals_n_1502545.html?utm_hp_ref=tsa" target="_hplink">inside stuffed animals</a>. Poor Mickey Mouse!
Batman Throwing Stars
Everyone knows that the Batman has his own plane and doesn't need to fly commercial. This faker, <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-bazooka-round.html" target="_hplink">caught in San Diego in June</a>, is not Bruce Wayne.
The crazy thing about this story wasn't what was stopped from going on a plane, but why. A mother of a 9-month-old was told she <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/amy-strand-breast-milk_n_1317058.html?utm_hp_ref=tsa" target="_hplink">couldn't board her plane</a> in Hawaii in February with her breast pump. The reason? Because the milk bottles were empty, <a href="http://www.kitv.com/KITV4-Exclusive-TSA-Admits-Breast-Pump-Mistake/-/8906042/9658158/-/qpck62/-/index.html#ixzz1nz9Acm95" target="_hplink">KITV reported</a>. The woman embarrassingly had to go to the bathroom to fill the bottles with milk, and the TSA later had to issue an apology.
Knife Mounted On Walker
Don't mess with this grandpa, <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/05/tsa-week-in-review-plastic-dagger-found.html" target="_hplink">who tried flying out of JFK</a>.
Fortunately this weapon had no grenades in it <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/02/tsa-week-in-review-fantasy-knives-and.html" target="_hplink">when confiscated in February in Seattle</a>.
In Texas, they don't mess around with fake grenades. Officials at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport found <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/03/tsa-week-in-review-thousands-of-ecstasy.html" target="_hplink">a live 40mm explosive grenade in one man's luggage</a>. The guy actually had a good excuse. "It was a soldier who made a mistake and in the end, no charges were filed," the TSA explained.
The curious part of this story is that you <em>can</em> fly with a chainsaw, if it's in your checked luggage. But this guy traveling out of Elmira, NY, still had gas in his wood-cutter <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/tsa-week-in-review-gassed-up-chainsaw.html" target="_hplink">when he attempted to get it onto a plane</a> in January.
This was confiscated at North Carolina's Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
Cellphone Stun Gun
The TSA finds plenty of stun guns, but this one, masked as a cellphone and uncovered by officials in Indianapolis in June, takes the cake. Insert your "there's an app for that" joke here.
An X-ray screening in Philadelphia International Airport reveals one passenger trying to carry on <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/03/good-catch-explosives-discovered-in.html" target="_hplink">three M-80 fireworks</a>, along with "a water bottle wrapped in black electrical tape and filled with flash powder." Unsurprisingly, the man was arrested.
Regret that useless souvenir you got on your last vacation? <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/02/tsa-week-in-review-coral-covered.html" target="_hplink">Meet this diver</a> who found an 18th-century, coral-covered cannonball while exploring a ship near Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The TSA determined that the projectile was still potentially explosive even after centuries underwater, and had to evacuate the checked baggage area and call in a bomb squad.
These stuckers were taken <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-inert-detonator.html" target="_hplink">by officiers in Salt Lake City, Utah</a>.
What's in the water in Dallas? An old bazooka round was found in a passenger's bag at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. "Not knowing if this was live or inert, Law Enforcement Officers established a 100-foot perimeter around the item and evacuated the baggage area and terminals near the item," <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-bazooka-round.html" target="_hplink">the TSA wrote</a>. Five delayed flights later, it was determined to be not live.
Obviously, this is scary. <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-inert-detonator.html" target="_hplink">In Harrisburg, PA, in June</a>, a passenger "had been at a conference where the items were given out as souvenirs."
<a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/tsa-week-in-review-gassed-up-chainsaw.html" target="_hplink">Found in San Diego in January</a>.