Your security questions answered
To help you with any other queries about security, we've compiled a list of frequently asked questions which may help you.
I’m travelling with children – are the rules the same for me?
You are allowed an additional item of hand baggage even when travelling with a child who has no seat assigned to them.
But do check restrictions with your airline. Passengers can take buggies to the gate. These items will need to be x-rayed.
You may carry milk powder. There are no limits for powder formula. Bottled water is available in shops after security or your airline can provide water during the flight.
Passengers can carry ready-to-drink cartons of formula and self-prepared milk, providing it is in a baby bottle. These items do not have to be under 100ml nor carried in the transparent bag. However, the amount must be just sufficient for your trip and will be subject to separate security screening. The same rules apply for containers of baby food.
You can ready-to-drink infant formula after security from Boots and this can be ordered in advance by calling: 01293 569606 (North Terminal) and 01293 569353 (South Terminal).
You can take baby car seats through security for use on the plane, but should check with their airline.
I need to travel with medicines and medical equipment – are the rules the same for me?
Passengers are allowed to take essential medicines sufficient for their trip. Amounts under 100ml should be placed in a transparent, resealable plastic bag, with any other liquids. If the container is larger than 100ml it should be presented at security for x-ray inspection. There is no limit on the amount but all medicines will be subject to additional security screening and you will be asked to provide proof such as a doctor's letter.
Passengers may carry non-prescription tablets (e.g. paracetamol), but as with all other medicines they should be properly marked with a professionally printed label identifying the medication and manufacturer's name or pharmaceutical label.
Any other medical item that you may need during your flight – including insulin and needles, asthma inhalers, EpiPen, angina sprays etc. – can be carried, but only the amount necessary for your trip. The rest should be put in your hold baggage.
If you are concerned about the effect of the temperature in the aircraft hold on your medicine, you should speak to your airline directly.
Items such as blood pressure monitors can be carried in hand baggage – as long as they fit within the size limits.
Spare contact lenses can be carried in hand baggage – but only what you need during the journey and the packets must be sealed. The rest should be in your hold baggage. And any contact lens solution must be in a 100ml container.
Homeopathic medicines will be subject to x-ray screening. Although we appreciate your concerns, the Homeopathic Society of Great Britain cannot substantiate any impact on the medicines. However, should you be concerned please raise this with our officers at security.
I’m still unclear about what I can/can’t carry in hand luggage
Solid cosmetics including lipsticks and powders are OK. You can take atomisers/cream/roll-on deodorants etc. in containers up to 100ml, but these must be in a transparent, resealable, airtight bag. Please note only one bag per person is permitted.
Electrical items such as MP3 and DVD players and laptops are permitted – as long as they comply with the size restrictions. Spare batteries are also allowed. However, we may ask for these items to be screened separately.
You can carry gas hair tongs with one gas cartridge in your hand baggage – but check with your airline as some carriers may restrict these items.
If carrying jewellery, remember that some items could be classed as ‘sharp objects’ so will not be allowed in hand baggage.
House keys and car keys can be included in hand baggage – but must go through the x-ray machine.
A musical instrument carried in its case can be taken into the cabin in addition to the hand baggage allowance – but you cannot put any other items in the instrument case. But check with your airline. Some musical accessories such as percussion mallets or wire brushes for drums will not be allowed in your hand baggage.
If you are worried about special items which normally wouldn’t comply with the size restrictions– a wedding dress for example – contact your airline to discuss special arrangements.
Small non-toxic gas cylinders, such as those used for artificial limbs or in lifejackets, may be carried in hand baggage, provided they comply with the size restrictions, but you should check with your airline.
Sports equipment can be carried in hand baggage provided it fits within the bag size restrictions and complies with the rules on sharp objects. Fishing rods are not allowed in the cabin – and scuba diving tanks cannot be carried anywhere on the aircraft.
I’m a photographer and I’m worried about putting my film and camera through the x-ray machines. Can you help?
Don’t worry – our x-ray machines won’t harm your film or equipment. The British Photographers' Liaison Committee (BPLC), have given the all-clear to our hand-luggage x-ray inspection systems saying that it is safe for all normal film types (up to and including ISO 400) as well as for digital storage media.
Specialist film (ISO 800 and above) can sometimes be affected – but the effects are barely noticeable to the naked eye and do no become clearly visible until film is exposed around 32 times. But we can make special arrangements for photographers carrying professional film (ISO 800 and above) – just contact us or your airline before travel.
Professional photographers requiring more detailed information can contact the BPLC on +44 (0)20 7739 6669.
What is a liquid?
Within airport security, we classify any liquid, gel, cream or paste as restricted items but this includes drinks, water, toiletries, perfumes, cosmetics as well as food items that contain high volumes of liquids (soups, yoghurts etc.) it also applies to spreads, jams and preserves.
If you are unsure, please contact us or speak to the security staff prior to entering the departure lounge.
How many liquids under 100ml can I carry?
You can carry as many items that fit in to the clear plastic bag, but this bag must seal and 1 bag per person.
Is it the amount of liquid or the container size that is measured?
It is the container size that we measure regardless of how much liquid it contains, and it must also state the capacity of the container.
Travelling with duty free alcohol or perfumes?
We accept some oversized liquids purchased as duty free or tax free with certain restrictions. It must be in a clear sealed, tamper proof bag with the receipt inside of the bag. If you are unsure, please contact your airline. If in doubt, ensure that your duty free purchases are checked in to the hold of the aircraft.
Do I have to remove shoes/jewellery etc.?
By removing shoes and metallic jewellery, you greatly reduce the chance of activating our walk through metal detectors, therefore speeding up your journey through security. We advise that any high value items you remove are placed into your hand baggage to keep them safe and secure.
Can I request to be searched privately?
Yes, anyone can request a private search for either themselves or for their hand baggage if you have any condition that you may wish to be dealt with privately or carrying items that you do not wish to be searched in a public area.
If you require a private search, please ask the officer prior to any search commencing and we will arrange this for you.
Any searches carried out in private are witnessed by an additional security officer and you are welcome to have a travelling companion be there with you.
Can I refuse to go through the security scanner?
You have the right to refuse to go through our security scanners. The alternative is a body search carried out in a private search area.
Once I go through security can I exit?
Once through security, there is no way to exit. So please ensure you are ready to wait for your flights departure without the need to exit again.
There is no facility to smoke once through security.
What do I do if I need assistance through security?
If you need special assistance at the airport, please make sure you've booked it in advance through your airline. Once booked you will be met on your arrival by our dedicated team and assisted through the airport.
Advice for transgender travellers
Gatwick welcomes passengers and staff regardless of age, ethnicity, colour, religion or gender. All our staff and passengers have the right to be treated with dignity and professionalism regardless of the gender they identify with.
Everyone travelling from the airport needs to follow the same security procedures and processes. For more information about what you can and can't carry through security see our security advice page.
Check-in: All passengers must also provide proof of identity when they check in for their flight (usually your passport). The date of birth, gender and name of the passenger on the reservation must match that on your passport or government issued photographic ID. If you have different names and genders on different documents, you may choose which one to use, provided that it satisfies the airline’s ID requirements and matches the name you used on the airline reservation. It does not matter if your current gender presentation matches that given on your documentation or that of your photograph.
Security: If you are required to be hand searched at security, you may select the gender of the officer which you feel most comfortable with to perform the search. You should also be aware that at any point in the process, you may ask to have a private search. If you do so, you will be taken to a private area, out of view of the travelling public and other members of staff. You will then undergo a full body search both by hand and by use of a hand-held metal detector. The officer conducting the search will be accompanied by a second officer of the same sex who will act as a witness, and you may also take a witness with you (of any sex).
Some items underneath clothing such as prosthetics, binding etc may show as an anomaly on the scan and highlighted to the security officer as previously described. Although we understand that it may be personally uncomfortable to do so, the best way of dealing with the situation is to clearly and calmly explain to the officer what the item is. You should never be asked to remove or raise any items of clothing to reveal the item to them, nor should you be asked to remove it.
Wigs and hairpieces are usually not subject to additional checks, unless particularly out-of-the-ordinary. In the event that it is significantly large, the officer may wish to satisfy him or herself that there is nothing concealed within, by use of a visual or hand search and possible use of a hand-held metal detector.
Are there any facilities to eat, sit, and smoke once through security?
Once through security, our departure lounge has lots of places to eat and drink, as well as free wi-fi, shopping, lounges, children’s play area and money change/ATM facilities.
However smoking is not permitted anywhere within the terminal building and there is no facility to smoke once through security. Smoking of e-cigarettes is also not permitted anywhere in the terminal building.
I have a pace maker
If you have a pace maker or any other medical device that may be affected by walking through an archway metal detector, please advise our security officers prior to going through security.
Please ensure that you have your medical card to state that you are wearing a sensitive medical device.