Strict New Rules Cause Few Problems at EU Airports

European Union airports reported minor delays Monday on the first day of strict new hand luggage regulations that limit the amount of liquids allowed on flights.

New EU rules limit passengers to carrying liquids in containers no larger than 100 milliliters (3.4 oz), packed in transparent bags, on board planes.

The rules are a response to claims by British police that they uncovered a plot in August to bring down U.S.-bound flights out of London's Heathrow airport using liquid explosives.

The list of liquids includes soup, syrups, creams, lotions, oils, perfumes, sprays, hair and shower gels, shaving and other foams, pressurized deodorants, toothpaste and mascara, and water and soft drinks.

The restrictions apply to all airports in the 25 EU nations as well as in Norway, Iceland, Croatia and Switzerland.

In Denmark, Copenhagen Airport set up extra tables near security check-in to help passengers repack their items.

In France, 500 extra security staff were on hand with plastic bags to help passengers through the new regulation procedures, which officials said caused delays of up to half an hour.

Some travelers grumbled at being forced to empty out bottles of wine.

"I don't see what kind of a problem milk transported in a plane could cause. I was obliged to throw out my milk here," said passenger Ben Sangare, who quickly drank up the milk before discarding his bottle.

The biggest reported delays were in Italy, where passengers waited up to 45 minutes during the morning. As in Denmark and France, Italian airport employees provided plastic bags for those unprepared for the new rules.

At Naples' Capodichio airport, one man was prohibited from bringing buffalo mozzarella - which is immersed in whey - on board a flight.

But the Association of European Airlines said most flights were running on schedule with few delays, crediting wide-scale public awareness campaigns for the smooth transition.

"Some airports have planned for the new rules by providing wrapping areas where people who were not correctly informed or prepared were able to repack their hand luggage," AEA spokeswoman Francoise Humbert said. "It seems to be going smoothly so far."

Advance notice by airports had many travelers prepared for the new changes.

"The start went even better than we had expected," said Kari Salonen, deputy manager of Finavia, which runs Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport. "Many passengers had heard of the new regulations and had made the necessary preparations already at home."

Still, airport officials in Helsinki confiscated deodorant, soft drink bottles, jam jars, shampoo and two unopened cans of pea soup.

A new restriction on the size of carryon luggage is scheduled to go into effect April 17, allowing bags no larger than 56 by 45 by 25 centimeters (22 by 17 by 10 inches).

Copyright: Associated Press WorldStream -- 11/7/06


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