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Security at Southampton airport

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Most of us are only too well aware of why security at airports has to be watertight these days.

That doesn't make waiting in a long queue any more enjoyable - but if you know the rules before you start packing, you shouldn't have any trouble getting through the checks.

Top tips for smooth security

Make sure you know how much hand and hold baggage you are allowed. Restrictions differ between airlines, but you should be able to find the information on your booking confirmation or on your airline's website.

Get to the airport in plenty of time for your flight. Leave more time than you think you need in case there are delays. If you end up with time to spare you can always have a look at the shops or get something to eat or drink. It is a good idea to go straight to security after you have checked in.

Have your passport, boarding pass and bag of liquids ready for inspection. The bag of liquids should be closed.

If you are carrying medicines, baby food or large electrical items such as laptops, take them out ready for inspection.

You will be asked to take your coat off, but you can leave keys, coins, wallets and mobile phones in the pockets. You may also be asked to take off your shoes.

You may have your bags searched or be body searched. This could be because you are carrying a lot of electrical equipment, or it may be a completely random search. It is nothing to worry about.

Hand luggage

airport hand luggage limits

The good news is that some airlines are now letting passengers take a handbag or a laptop bag into the cabin as well as their main item of hand luggage.

The bad news is that not all of them are, so check with your airline what their rules are.

The maximum size for each item of hand luggage is 56cm x 45cm x 25cm. However, some airlines have stricter rules, for example Flybe, which restricts items of hand luggage to 50cm x 35cm x 23cm.

Liquids: You are allowed to take liquids in your hand luggage, but they must be in containers of less than 100ml. Containers larger than 100ml are not allowed in hand luggage, even if they are not full, but you can pack them in your hold luggage. Liquids must be carried through security in a transparent resealable bag no larger than 20cm x 20cm. Only one bag of liquids is allowed per person.

Food: You can take most solid food, but dishes that have a high liquid content, such as sauces, soups, yogurts, jam and honey, count as liquids.

Contact lenses: You may carry a couple of spare pairs of disposable lenses, as long as the packages are sealed. Contact lens solution is subject to the same restrictions as other liquids.

Toiletries: Solid cosmetics, such as lipsticks and solid deodorants, can be taken on board. Liquid deodorants, hairsprays, creams, lip gloss, toothpaste and mascara count as liquids.

Electrical items: There are no limitations on electrical items, but they may have to be screened separately. If you wish to carry gas hair tongs, please check with your airline whether they are allowed. Spare gas refills are not allowed in your hand or hold luggage.

Medicines: You are allowed to take as much medicine as you need for the trip. Amounts of less than 100ml should go in the resealable bag with the other liquids. If the container is larger than 100ml you should present it to security staff. You should carry your prescription or a letter from your doctor.

There are no restrictions on tablets and pills, whether or not they are prescribed medication. You are also allowed to carry as much liquid ibuprofen and paracetamol for children as you need for the trip.

Insulin, hypodermic needles, EpiPens and inhalers are allowed, though spare canisters for your inhaler should go in your hold luggage. You should pack your equipment carefully and let security staff know it is there so they do not accidentally injure themselves.

If you are carrying medicine in the hold and are worried it may be affected by the temperature, you should speak to your airline.

Baby products: Baby food and milk are not subject to the same restrictions as other liquids - you may take as much as you need for the trip. You will be asked to taste the items at security to verify their authenticity.

You can take a baby bag as well as your cabin bag - even though the baby does not have its own seat, it has its own bag allowance. Wet wipes are allowed on the plane.

You can take pushchairs, prams, buggies and babies' car seats through security in addition to your hand luggage.

Musical instruments: You may take one musical instrument in its case onto the plane in addition to your hand luggage. Some accessories, such as percussion mallets, may not be allowed in hand luggage.

Cigarettes: Cigarettes are allowed in hand luggage, but matches and lighters are not allowed in any luggage. You may take a butane lighter, a Zippo lighter or a box of safety matches onto the plane if you carry them on your person.

Don't forget: Anything you buy after security can be taken onto the plane. However, if you are not on a direct flight, you will have to go through security again when you change flights, and the restrictions will be the same.

Banned items: You are not allowed anything in your hand luggage which is sharp or could be used as a weapon. This includes scissors, razor blades and razors where the blade can be removed, cutlery (apart from small teaspoons), corkscrews, knitting needles, sports bats or cues, metal nail files and tools. Skateboards, Christmas crackers and party poppers are also not allowed.

Scissors with rounded blades, or pointed blades less than 3cm long, are allowed, as are razors where the blade is set into plastic moulding and cannot be removed.

Items which are banned in both hand and hold luggage include fireworks and non-safety matches. For a comprehensive list, visit the Southampton airport website.

If you try to take banned items onto the plane, they will almost certainly be confiscated by security staff and not returned.

Locking your luggage

You are allowed to lock your suitcase, but if you are travelling to or through the USA, you must use a lock approved by the Transportation Security Administration, the organisation which works to keep transport systems in the US safe. This allows staff to open and relock your case, should they feel they need to, without breaking the lock. For details contact your airline or visit the TSA website.

For more information about any aspect of security at Southampton airport, visit the Southampton airport website.