The government is partially lifting its ban against carrying liquids and gels onto airliners, instituted after a plot to bomb jets flying into the United States was foiled, an administration official said Monday.
A Homeland Security Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made, said that most liquids and gels that air travelers purchase in secure areas of airports will now be allowed on planes.
That means that after passengers go through airport security checkpoints, they can purchase liquids at airport stores and take them onto their planes, said the official. Announcement of the new rules was being made at an 11 a.m. EDT news conference at Reagan National Airport. The Transportation Security Administration said only that it planned to announce "refinements to security measures."
The tougher airport screening procedures were put in place in August after British police broke up a terrorist plot to assemble and detonate bombs using liquid explosives on airliners crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Britain to the U.S.
At the time, the Homeland Security Department briefly raised the threat level to "red," the highest level, for flights bound to the United States from Britain. All other flights were at "orange" and will remain at orange, the second-highest level, for now.
New procedures also were being announced for products like lip gloss and hand lotion that passengers bring to the airport. Previously, those liquids have been confiscated at security checkpoints. Now, the official said, passengers will have to put those products in clear plastic bags before going through the checkpoint, where they will be screened and returned if they are cleared.
"Obviously, there's been a lot of unhappiness," said Richard Marchi, senior adviser to the Airports Council International, an airport trade group. "They're right to find a way to ease the burden and maintain a reasonable level of security."
Associated Press Writer Leslie Miller contributed to this story.