Security at London Stansted Airport

Advice on packing hand luggage and going through Security

Last updated: June 2024

Security at London Stansted Airport

The safety and security of customers and staff is our absolute priority at London Stansted Airport. There are a few steps to going through Security, but we’re here to make it simple.

This page tells you everything you need to know for a quick and easy journey through London Stansted Airport Security, including what to pack in your hand luggage (the bag you carry onto the plane) and your hold luggage (the suitcase or bag that you check in), so you can focus on enjoying your trip.

What can I take through Security?

You can pack liquids in your hand luggage, but there is a liquid allowance on flights - this is why we recommend packing liquids in your hold luggage if possible. Any liquids in your hand luggage must follow these rules:

  • All liquids, gels and aerosols must be under 100ml each 

  • These must be packed in a clear, resealable plastic bag, no larger than 20cm x 20cm 

  • Passengers can only pack one of these clear bags of products in their hand luggage - the limit is one per person

  • This clear plastic bag should be removed from your hand luggage and placed clearly in the tray provided

Water 24px _ Water
Other drinks 24px _ Other drinks
Toothpaste 24px _ Toothpaste
Hand sanistiser 24px _ Hand sanitiser
Sun cream 24px _ Sun cream _
Shower gel moisturiser 24px _ Moisturiser _
Perfume 24px _ Perfume/aftershave
make-up 24px _ Make-up
Inhaler 24px _ Inhaler
Contact lens solution 24px _ Contact lens solution _ _
Shower gel moisturiser 24px _ Shower gel
shaving foam 24px _ Shaving foam
aerosols 24px _ Aerosols
cheese 24px _ Food items
jam 24px _ Jam
_

Top tip You can use any type of clear, resealable plastic bag, such as a make-up bag, or a freezer bag. If you forget this, you pick up a clear plastic bag at the airport (limited to one per customer), but preparing your liquid bag before you arrive at the airport will help speed up the queue going through London Stansted Airport Security.

You can bring some electrical items in your hand luggage, but any electrical item over the size of A5 (20cm x 20cm) should be removed from your bag and placed in your tray to be screened separately at Security.

Tablets iPad 24px _ Tablets and iPads
Laptop 24px _ Laptops
Hairdryer 24px _ Hair appliances
Electric cigarette vape 24px _ E-cigarettes/vapes
Camera 24px _ Cameras_
Docking station 24px _ Docking station _
Charger 24px _ Chargers
Speakers 24px _ Speakers
Electric shaver 24px _ Electric shaver
Iron 24px _ Iron_ _
_

Prohibited items

It's an offence to carry certain items into an aircraft cabin as they could be dangerous, and these items will be taken away at Security. Please note that this includes toy or replica guns (plastic or metal). See a full list of prohibited items below.

Body scanners

You might be required to have a body scan at Security, to make sure no one takes anything dangerous onto the plane. All the body scanning equipment has been designed to put passengers at ease - you remain fully clothed, and they only take a few seconds. Please be assured that the scanners are completely safe, and do not use x-rays.

Security scanner upgrades

London Stansted Airport Security is in the process of upgrading its equipment. This next-generation security will transform the passenger experience by making it smoother, seamless, and stress-free. However, until we've upgraded all of our security screening equipment, passengers should prepare for Security as normal.

Hand luggage sizes

Remember - each airline has its own policy on the amount of hand luggage allowed on their aircraft, so we strongly recommend you check this information directly through your airline before you travel. Your airline might have restrictions on the size and dimensions of your hand luggage too, so always check with them before you fly.

Accessibility

To find out more about accessibility at London Stansted Airport, please visit AccessAble for more information.

Detailed information

The CAA (UK Civil Aviation Authority) sets most of the rules and regulations about what you can take through Security in your hand luggage. However, some rules and regulations are set by the airline individual airline.

Useful links

Civil Aviation Authority

Gov.uk

Airlines

See a full list of flight operators that serve London Stansted Airport.

Hand luggage

You can pack liquids in your hand luggage, but there is a limit to how much liquid you can take on a plane - so pack liquids in your hold luggage where possible. If you do take liquids in your hand luggage:

  • Containers must hold no more than 100ml

  • Containers must be in a single, clear, resealable plastic bag (e.g. a cosmetics/make-up bag or freezer bag), which holds a maximum of one litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm

  • The contents must fit comfortably inside the clear plastic bag so it can be sealed (i.e. it must not be so full that you can’t close it)

  • The bag must not be knotted or tied at the top

  • You’re limited to one plastic bag per person

  • You must put the clear bag of liquids in your plastic tray to go through the security X-ray machine


Please note: Liquids in containers larger than 100ml cannot go through security even if the container is only part full. There are some exemptions.

If you wish to bring your own containers to hold 100ml or less, the container must have printed on it the measurement that the container can hold. Travel sets of containers that do not have measurements on them will not be allowed through security. Handwritten measurements or stickers are also not acceptable.

Hold luggage

Any liquids over 100ml must be checked in with your hold luggage. If you're unsure about whether any liquid will be allowed through Security in your hand luggage, it’s best to check it in with your hold luggage, to avoid disappointment if Security confiscates it.


What is a liquid?

  • All drinks, including water

  • Liquid or semi-liquid foods, such as soup, jam, honey, and syrups

  • Pastes, including toothpaste

  • Creams, lotions, oils, moisturiser

  • Perfumes and aftershaves

  • Make-up, including mascara and lipgloss

  • Sprays, including sun lotion

  • Inhalers

  • Gels, including hair gels and shower gels

  • Contents of pressurised containers, including shaving foam, other foams, and deodorants

  • Liquid-solid mixtures (such as food)

  • Any other item of a similar consistency

Please note: Lipsticks, lip balms, and stick deodorants are not classed as liquids, so you don’t need to put these in your clear plastic bag.

Exemptions

You can take liquid containers larger than 100ml through security at all UK airports if they:

  • are for essential medical purposes (these must be accompanied with a medical note or prescription)

  • are for special dietary requirements

  • contain baby food or baby milk


Duty Free

You can also take liquids bought at the airport or on your plane (such as Duty Free perfume) through Security, provided that:

  • the items are sealed inside a security bag when you buy them

  • the receipt for the items is sealed in the security bag and visible

Hand luggage
You can bring some electrical items in your hand luggage. Smaller items, such as mobile phones and iPods can be left in your bag, but items over A5 size will need to be removed from your hand luggage and placed in a tray to be screened separately from your bag at Security. Common electrical items include:

  • Tablets and iPads

  • Laptops

  • Hairdryers

  • Hair straighteners

  • Travel Iron

  • Speakers

  • Cameras

  • Docking stations

  • Electric shaver

  • E-cigarettes

  • Plug-in curling tong

  • Chargers


Cameras
You can usually take camera equipment in your hand and hold luggage. However, there may be restrictions on specialist equipment (e.g. professional video cameras).

Batteries
There are some restrictions on certain types of batteries - the CAA (UK Civil Aviation Authority) has more information, or you can contact your airline if you’re not sure what you can carry.

Gas-powered curling tong
If your hair curlers contain a gas cartridge, you can still pack these in your hand luggage or hold luggage, so long as the safety cover is fitted at all times. Gas cartridges are liquid under pressure and can be dangerous, so you must check the size with your airline before taking on board the aircraft (this applies to both your hand luggage and hold luggage).

Liquid medication

While the normal rule is that liquids must be under 100ml in your hand luggage, this is different for essential medicine, and you can take prescription medication in containers over 100ml through Security (including liquid dietary foodstuffs and inhalers). However, you may only carry through security the quantity of liquid medication that is required for your journey.

Proof of prescription

If your medication is in liquid form and in a container larger than 100ml, you’ll need to carry proof that the medication is prescribed to you (for example a letter from your doctor, or a copy of your prescription or the medicine prescription label).

You do not need to show proof if the medication is either:

  • in tablet form

  • liquid in a container that’s 100ml or smaller

Please note: There are different rules if you’re travelling with medicine that contains a controlled drug. Find out further information before you travel.


Medical equipment

Medical equipment is permitted through Security, but it will need to be screened separately from your hand luggage. Find out more information and see full list.


Hand luggage and hold luggage

The following medicine and medical items are allowed in both your hand luggage and your hold luggage:

  • Tablets and capsules

  • Essential liquid medicines

  • Hypodermic syringes

  • Inhalers

  • Cooling gel packs (for baby food, or if for essential medication you must also have a doctor’s letter confirming that it needs to be kept cold)

  • Medical equipment (for example CPAP and TENS machines)

  • Special food and liquids needed for medical reasons or for babies


Oxygen cylinders

If you need to travel with oxygen cylinders, please contact your airline for more information.

We often get asked whether you can take food through airport security. Food items and powders in your hand luggage can obstruct images on X-ray machines. Your bags may need to be checked again manually by security. You can put these items in your hold luggage to make your journey easier.

Hand luggage

In the context of packing food and milk for a baby, a baby must be under 3 years old. When travelling with a baby, you’re allowed to take enough baby food, baby milk, and sterilised water for the journey, even if it’s more than 100ml. – for the whole trip

Breast milk

You can carry breast milk in your hand luggage, even if you’re not travelling with a baby - however, frozen breast milk is not allowed.

Individual containers of breast milk must hold no more than 2,000ml. Each container will need to be screened at Security, and staff might need to open the containers to screen the liquids.

Hand luggageHold luggage
Breast milkYes, in containers up to 2,000mlYes
Frozen breast milkNoYes
Formula milk, cow's milkYes (baby must be present)Yes
Steralised water for babiesYes (baby must be present)Yes
Soya milk for babiesYes (baby must be present)Yes
Baby foodYes (baby must be present)Yes
Cooling gel packsYesYes

If you’re travelling with a pram / buggy / pushchair, there are different rules and processes, depending on your airline.

You might be asked to check it in with your hold luggage or at the departure gate, or you might be allowed to take it through Security and keep it right up until the time when you board the plane.

Because of the different rules, we strongly recommend you contact your airline in advance, so you know exactly what to do on the day.

Please note: If you’re allowed to keep it until you board the plane, speak to a member of staff at Security and they’ll direct you to which queue to join – you might be able to go through an ‘assisted’ lane if it’s not too busy.

Musical instruments

You can travel with musical instruments, but if it’s large then it’s best to contact your airline to see if it requires you to make any special arrangements (e.g. buying an extra seat). Musical instruments will be screened separately at Security.

Mobility aids

Walking aids, wheelchairs, and battery-powered wheelchairs/mobility aids are usually allowed in the cabin (i.e. you can bring these items onto the plane with you), but recommend contacting your airline in advance to see if they require you to make any special arrangements. This includes hiking poles if they’re used as a walking aid )if not, they must be placed in your hold luggage). All mobility aids will be screened separately at Security.

Hand luggageHold luggage
CorkscrewNoYes
SpoonYesYes
Knife (with a sharp or pointed blade and/or blade longer than 6cm)NoYes (check with your airline)
Small scissors (with blades no longer than 6cm)YesYes
Large scissors (with blades longer than 6cm)NoYes
Round-ended/blunt scissorsYesYes
Fixed-cartridge razor blades (disposable razor)YesYes
Nail clippers/nail fileYesYes
TweezersYesYes
Knitting needlesYesYes
Sewing needleYesYes
UmbrellaYesYes
Walking stick/cane, walking aidYesYes
PushchairYesYes
WheelchairYesYes
Safety matchesYesNo
Non-safety matchesNoNo
Fireworks, flares and other pyrotechnics, including party poppers and toy capsNoNo
Cigarette lighterNo, but you can put a lighter in a plastic liquids bag and keep it on your personNo
Contact lens solutionYes (up to 100ml)Yes
Christmas crackersNoNo

The safety and security of our passengers and staff is our absolute priority. The following items are strictly prohibited from being carried onto the plane in your hand luggage, and will be confiscated at Security:

  • Acid

  • Bows/crossbows and arrows

  • Workmen’s tools with a blade or shat of more than 6cm

  • Catapults and slingshots

  • Darts

  • Explosives

  • Gas cartridges, or gas cartridge re-fills

  • Hammers, nails, and screwdrivers

  • Hypodermic syringes (unless supported by medical evidence)

  • Knives with blades more than 6cm

  • Lighter fuel

  • Lighter top-up fuel (passengers are allowed to carry one disposable lighter in a clear re-sealable plastic bag)

  • Mercury

  • Paint*

  • Razor blades

  • Scissors - specifically, blades measuring greater than 6cm in length

  • Sporting bats

  • Guns, including toy or replica guns (plastic or metal)

  • Umbrellas - unless foldable

*Artists' acrylic, oil or watercolour paint is permitted, if the individual container contains no more than 100ml. Normal liquid bag rules then apply.

Ammunition

You cannot take any guns or firearms (including air rifles and starting pistols) as hand luggage. You may be able to take them as hold luggage - check with your airline before you travel. You cannot take any of these items as hand luggage or hold luggage:

  • Fuels

  • Party poppers

  • Camping gases

  • Soda crystals

  • Blasting caps

  • Detonators and fuses

  • Imitation explosive devices (including replica or model guns)

  • Mines, grenades, and other explosive military stores

  • Fireworks and pyrotechnics

  • Smoke canisters

  • Smoke cartridges

  • Dynamite

  • Gunpowder

  • Plastic explosives (including black powder and percussion caps)

  • Flares

  • Hand grenades

  • Gun cigarette lighters


Chemicals and toxic substances

You cannot take any of these items as hand luggage or hold luggage:

  • Oxidisers and organic peroxides, including bleach and car body repair kits

  • Acids and alkalis (for example spillable ‘wet’ batteries)

  • Corrosives or bleaching agents (including mercury and chlorine)

  • Vehicle batteries and fuel systems

  • Self-defence or disabling sprays (for example mace, pepper spray)

  • Radioactive materials (including medicinal or commercial isotopes)

  • Poisons or toxic substances (for example rat poison)

  • Biological hazards (for example infected blood, bacteria, viruses)

  • Materials that could spontaneously combust (burst into flames)

  • Fire extinguishers

There are different rules for what you can pack in your hold luggage (the suitcase or bag that you check in) and what to pack in your hand luggage (the bag you carry onto the plane). Visit the hold luggage page for more information.

As well as having the contents of your hand luggage scanned, you might be required to have a body scan at Security, to make sure no one takes anything prohibited onto the plane. All the body scanning equipment has been designed to put passengers at ease (you remain fully dressed and they take just a moment). You’ll be asked to either walk through a ‘door frame’ or stand still between two ‘walls’, which will scan you in seconds. Please be assured that these scanners do not use X-rays.

You may opt out of a body scan, but you'll have to be screened by an alternative method, such as by hand, i.e. a Security staff member will have to physically check you’re not hiding anything in your clothes. All hand searches are conducted in a private room / area away from the main Security area, and while you remain dressed, you might be asked to remove or loosen items of clothing.

Useful links

Pre-book FastTrack

Book FastTrack

Save time and use the express lane at Security and Passport Control

Pre-book FastTrack

Travelling with children

Travel tips and handy airport services for a stress-free journey with your little ones

Airport parking

Accessible parking, close to every terminal

Pre-book FastTrack

Fear of Flying

If you’re anxious about flying, you’re not alone - 10 top tips for a calmer flight

Lounges

Travel in style and enjoy one of our exclusive airport lounges

Pre-book FastTrack

Food and drink

Your guide to restaurants and bars, and grabbing food on-the go