HomeAirlinesBritish AirwaysHeathrow T5 First Wing security has reopened (liquid restrictions lifted)

Heathrow T5 First Wing security has reopened (liquid restrictions lifted)

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The First Wing at London Heathrow T5 is a dedicated check-in area for British Airways First Class passengers and oneworld Emerald elites and attached to this area are two priority security lanes that lead directly to the Galleries First Lounge.

In the first week of January, the First Wing security lanes at Heathrow T5 were closed to allow the airport to upgrade the scanners in line with the UK government’s requirements and, at the time, it was believed that the upgrades would take 3 to 4 months.

Amazingly, however, a little over 10 weeks after the security lanes were closed they’re now up and running again complete with all the shiny new equipment that should make life a lot easier for passengers fortunate enough to have access to the First Wing.

The first full day of opening was yesterday, 21 March, and apart from a few teething problems with the scanners which required an engineer to attend, all seems to be going well (according to one of the managers who oversees the lanes).

So what’s new?

Well, the old single people scanner has been replaced with two people scanners that look like this:

a metal detector with a person's body painted on it
Image via Wikicommons media and Raimond Spekking.

And the two old baggage scanners have been replaced with equipment that allows passengers to keep all their electronics and liquids in their bags and, crucially, that also allows Heathrow to lift the liquid restrictions that have been imposed for almost two decades.

The new baggage scanners have the ability to scan for hazardous substances while all items remain within a passenger’s luggage and this includes vessels containing liquids.

I’m told that “most small- to medium-sized bottles containing liquids should pass through the scanners without any problems”, but the scanners will highlight liquid containers that it thinks may need closer inspection and these will have to be removed from a passenger’s luggage and tested in a separate (also new) machine that sits next to the scanners.

What this means is that if you’re passing through First Wing security with a few toiletries in regular size bottles, you will probably pass though without having to remove anything from your bags.

If you’re passing through with a few bottles of wine or multiple litres of water, you can probably expect to be stopped so that your liquids can be examined a little more closely. Your your liquids will still be allowed to pass through (assuming they’re not declared to be a hazardous substance), but your progress through security will be slowed.

These liquid testing machines can accept vessels no larger than 2 litres, so the only liquid restriction now in place for people passing through First Wing security is that no vessel containing a liquid can be larger than 2 litres.

I have seen reports which say that a maximum of 2 litres can be brought through the security lanes with these new scanners, but the Heathrow security manager and the other members of the security team that I spoke to were very clear on this point. That is not correct.

The 2 litre limit relates to the maximum permitted size of an individual liquid container and not the total volume of liquid that can be brought through the scanners.

Note: Be aware that as the regular security lanes at T5 still operate with the older equipment, any issue with the First Wing security lanes that requires them to be closed would see First Wing passengers with more liquids/large bottles that have been permitted up until now having to forfeit those liquids. This risk will remain until all of the T5 scanners have been updated.

Bottom line

The First Wing security lanes at London Heathrow Terminal 5 have reopened with new scanners for baggage and people. The new scanners are considerably more advanced than the relics they have replaced, and this means that passengers can now leave all their liquids and electronics in their baggage and that the rules limiting the volume of liquid that can be brought through these security lanes can be lifted.

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