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EU agrees to liquid carry-on limits for airplane travelers

The European Union agreed to restrict the amount of liquid that airline passengers can take on board flights in Europe, striking a balance between the total ban imposed last month in Britain and more lenient rules elsewhere. Under the new rules, the maximum size of bottles allowed in carry-on bags will be 100 milliliters, or one-tenth of a liter, and each passenger's liquid containers must fit in one transparent sealable bag no larger than 1 liter, about a quart. Passengers will be able to buy larger bottles of drinks once they have passed security. The limits were spurred by arrests last month in Britain where police said they uncovered an Islamic-terrorist plot to bomb US-bound flights from Britain using liquids that were to be mixed on board after takeoff. Airlines had initially protested the blanket ban on all liquids imposed by British airport security, while most airports on the continent made no changes to their rules. The new uniform limits „strike the necessary balance between a tough approach in security, the comfort of passengers and the needs of the industry,” Jacques Barrot, the EU's commissioner for transport, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. The new rules should take effect in late November, once they pass the formality of being agreed to by the full European Commission and have been published in the Official Journal. The commission is the EU's executive branch.

The EU also decided to limit the size of carry-on luggage to a maximum of 56 centimeters by 45 centimeters by 25 centimeters (22 X 18 X 10 inches) with exceptions for musical instruments. That change will take effect later to allow airlines to adapt their cabins. The EU also decided to make obligatory certain procedures that are already common at European airports, such as putting all jackets and coats through x-ray machines and requiring that laptop computers be put through separately. The EU made no changes to its rules on liquids in checked bags. UK police arrested 25 people, most of them British-born Muslims, and charged 11 of them with conspiracy to murder and terror offenses after overnight raids at dozens of properties on August 10. Prosecutors claim the suspects were plotting to carry liquid explosives onto trans-Atlantic flights for detonation on board. The UK probe sparked chaos at airports, with more than 2,380 flights from London canceled in the week following the arrests. (Bloomberg)