Flight regulations on personal care products to be dropped

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

The US Transportation Security Administration says it will liberalize regulations that limit the size of cosmetic liquids to containers of 3oz or smaller on flights.

In its website blog the organization says it expects the current regulations will be relaxed by the end of 2009, allowing passengers to carry normal-sized shampoo bottles, skin care products and other larger personal care items on board, but still in separate bags.

The TSA says that the move is thanks to a new generation of X-ray equipment that can now be used to assess the contents of liquid containers with far greater accuracy, determining ‘threat’ and ‘non-threat’ liquids.

The organization says that by the end of 2010, the widespread use of this X-ray equipment will mean that there will be no restrictions to carrying liquids on board aircraft.

Security designed for 'stupid terrorists'

Recently national security expert Jeffrey Goldberg criticized the $7bn annual budget devoted to the TSA, claiming that the measures it had in place to prevent security breaches were ‘designed to catch stupid terrorists’.

In response to this kind of criticism, the latest move by the TSA should be well received by cosmetic and fragrance players, particularly those marketing up-scale mass market and luxury products.

The current restrictions were sparked by a foiled terrorist bomb attack on a trans-Atlantic flight back in 2006.

Total ban and confusion

Initially airport security organizations on both sides of the Atlantic introduced total bans on taking liquids on board flights, later relaxing the regulation to allow smaller liquid containers.

Cosmetic players claim that the initial ban and the ensuing confusion impacted sales of duty-free products. This has spelt problems for many of the up-market players, which derive a significant amount of their annual turnover from airport duty free sales.

However, many packaging companies have benefited from the restrictions, specifically those that have supplied regulation-size smaller liquid containers and the clear zip-lock plastic bags required for carry on liquids.

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