Brisbane Airport security trial keeps laptops, liquids in your bag

Brisbane Airport security trial keeps laptops, liquids in your bag

One of the biggest hassles of international travel has to be the airport security checkpoint, where passengers have to fish laptops, tablets with keyboards, powders, liquids, aerosols and gels out of their bag and present them separately for screening: but a new trial at Brisbane Airport aims to change that.

Thanks to a new computed tomography (CT) cabin baggage scanner, some travellers are now being instructed to leave everything inside their luggage as part of that trial, which keeps things as simple as plonking your bag on the belt and proceeding straight to the body scanner or metal detector.

Because the scanner takes X-ray images of each bag from a variety of angles, security staff can more thoroughly examine the contents of each piece of luggage, even when items like laptops and liquids remain inside.

That’s far more advanced than traditional airport X-rays which provide staff with only one or two views of each bag, and has long been the reason that travellers are asked to separate bulky items at the checkpoint, such as laptops, to prevent them obstructing the operator’s view of everything else.

A spokeswoman for Brisbane Airport Corporation told Australian Business Traveller that the trial would continue into February 2019, and that “if the trial of the equipment is successful, it will stay in place and more units will be installed” at the international terminal on a phased basis.

This includes a new type of body scanner that’s also being trialled in the same security screening lane as the CT machine, where passengers enter an open space and can keep their hands by their sides during the scan, rather than placing them over their head.

The technology was first seen in Australia in late 2016 when the manufacturer ran temporary operational trials at Newcastle Airport for domestic passengers.

It’s understood that removing the need for people to raise their hands makes the scanning process easier for elderly travellers and those with various injuries, for whom the normal scanner may present difficulties.

While many business travellers will hope that Brisbane Airport’s trial is successful – and that ultimately, laptops and liquid bags won’t need to be removed at the screening point – that remains to be seen after the results of the trial have been finalised.

“If BAC determines the equipment is not suitable, the equipment will be removed and the screening will revert back to previous equipment,” the BAC’s spokeswoman shares.

Throughout the trial, passengers may also be instructed to leave their laptops and large tablets inside their bag while still removing liquids, aerosols, gels and powders as normal, to be screened separately.

Airport staff will advise what’s necessary to passengers who are directed towards the trial checkpoint, which is located on the far right of the international screening area.

If you’re clearing security via any other lane at Brisbane’s international terminal, you’ll still need to remove laptops and liquid bags as normal, placing them onto trays to be scanned separately.

Brisbane’s trial comes ahead of broader aviation security enhancements that the Australian Government plans to roll out over the next two years, and builds upon a similar trial of CT cabin baggage scanning at Melbourne Airport last year, for domestic passengers departing from T4.

Also read: New Australian airport security rules restrict travelling with powder

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


  • Malcolm MacDowall


    31 Jan, 2019 07:23 am

    I now travel exclusively with only my iPad and seperate keyboard . Am able to leave them on my bag at most airports around the world . EXCEPT Gold Coast airport last week . I was stopped at the screening, iPad removed and re-screened. When I queried why the security member told me “It’s for your own security, that’s where the terrorists put the bombs mate ...”
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  • Satoshi Takayama

    Michael Kao

    31 Jan, 2019 08:47 am

    In US they would still require you to remove iPad though. I even had to remove my CPAP machine from its carrying bag. (Plus shoes and belts.....)
    No member give thanks

  • David Dale


    31 Jan, 2019 08:14 pm

    New Zealand has required iPads out for a while now.
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  • markpk


    31 Jan, 2019 09:34 pm

    Clearly the issue is still the skills/training of the contract workers on minimum wage who are looking at the screens...
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  • johninoz


    2 Feb, 2019 02:28 pm

    Not onlyi the screens. The people manning the body scanners aren't any better trained, nor are the scanners calibrated properly in my view. Had a problem with one which showed an anomoly on my right shoulder blade. I was only wearing a t-shirt which couldn't hide anything, but the operator make a big deal of it. His seeing eye dog would have made a better operator.
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  • Garth Freeman

    rnickey mouse

    1 Feb, 2019 09:44 am

    I'm amazed that we can determine the atmospheric composition of a planet orbiting a star 34,456,700,000,000 miles away yet can't detect Pantene Pro V conditioner in a carry-on, 35cm away.
    Members who gave thanks

    AJS, Bob.B, rdk, imranmtn

  • Russjking


    2 Feb, 2019 02:14 am

    The new requirement to remove the laptop cover from the same tray is annoying. I used to just get laptop out and place it on the sleeve. Not allowed: norhing else in that tray but the laptop. (BNE donestic terminal)
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  • Michael Humphries

    Whale Watcher

    3 Feb, 2019 10:49 am

    I concur with johninoz. The people working the security are ill informed in many cases.

    Just went through security in OOL 15mins ago. Kept setting off alarm, was wearing a belt and my learned security monitoring friend assured me it was my belt. I have worn the same belt for months????

    I then remembered fountain pen in top pocket (normally in brief case) removed it but my learned friend again insisted the problem was my belt, and explained to me that he was highly trained on the use of the equipment.

    To his disappointment I had one last go, WITH belt but sans fountain pen. Straight through...... I was then given the hand metal detector test to "double check"

    I suppose this is my fault for leaving home on a Sunday
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25 Jun, 2019 12:15 pm


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