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Security at Stansted airport

Security restrictions at airports have never been tighter than they are now - and rightly so.

However, if you know the rules before you start packing, you can get through the checks with minimum hassle.

Top tips for smooth security

Know how much hand luggage and hold luggage you are allowed. Different airlines have different restrictions, but if there is no information on your booking confirmation you should be able to find it on your airline's website.

Arrive in plenty of time for your flight. Leave more time than you think you need. It is a good idea to go straight to security after you have checked in - there are plenty of places to eat, drink, shop and relax in the departures area at Stansted.

Have your passport, boarding pass and bag of liquids ready for inspection at security. Large electrical items, like laptops, will need to go through the X-ray machine separately, so take them out of your hand luggage ready. Your coat will need to go through separately too, and you may be asked to take your shoes off.

Your bags may be searched or you may be body searched. This may be because electrical equipment in your bag has shown up on the X-ray, or it may be a random search. It is nothing to worry about.

Remember: anything bought in the departures lounge can be taken onto the plane, including food, drinks, toiletries and non-prescription medicines. 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.

Hand luggage

Most airlines allow passengers one item of hand luggage no bigger than 56cm x 45cm x 25cm. If you carry a handbag, it must fit inside your hand luggage.

You may take liquids, creams, gels, aerosols and pastes in your hand luggage, but they must be in containers of 100ml or less (even if the container is not full, its size must not exceed 100ml). They must be carried through security in a transparent, resealable bag no bigger than 20cm x 20cm. Each passenger is allowed only one bag of liquids.

Drinks: Drinks that you have opened cannot be taken through security. Remember, you can buy as much drink as you like after you have gone through security.

Food: You can take solid food in your hand luggage. Sauces, soups, jam, honey and other liquid foods count as liquids.

Baby products: Babies' drinks, liquid food, jars or pots of baby food and children's liquid ibuprofen or paracetamol are not subject to the 100ml limit. However, you are only allowed to carry as much as you need for the trip, and you may be asked to taste them. Wet wipes and powdered food are also allowed, and infants' car seats can be taken onto the plane in addition to your hand luggage. You can take a baby bag as well as your own item of hand luggage - your baby has its own bag allowance, even if it is sitting on your lap.

Electrical items: There is no limit on electrical items, but they may need to be screened separately. You can carry batteries in your hand luggage. If you wish to bring gas hair tongs, you should check with your airline whether they are allowed.

Toiletries: Creams, roll-on deodorants, lip gloss, toothpaste, mascara and contact lens solution all count as liquids. Solid deodorants and lipsticks do not. Razors that have the blade set into plastic moulding are allowed, but razors where the blade can be removed are not.

Medicines: If you need to carry more than 100ml of liquid medicine, you should contact your airline, but there should be no problem with this. You should carry your prescription or a statement from your doctor. There is no limit for powders and pills. Diabetics may carry insulin and hypodermic needles, and epipens may also be carried. Inhalers are allowed in your hand baggage, but spare canisters must be packed in your hold baggage.

You should pack medical equipment carefully and let security staff know it is in your hand luggage before you go through security. If the equipment does not fit in your hand luggage, again you will need to contact your airline. You should also check whether any medicine you are packing in the hold will be affected by the low temperature.

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

Large items: Hat boxes, sports equipment and wedding dresses all constitute an item of hand luggage, and are subject to the same restrictions as ordinary bags. However, you may carry one musical instrument in its case in addition to your hand luggage.

Banned items: You are not allowed any item in your hand luggage which is sharp or pointed or could be used as a weapon. This includes toy or replica guns, razor blades, sports bats, clubs or cues, scissors - unless the blades have round ends or are less than 3cm long - corkscrews, tools, metal cutlery, metal nail files and knitting needles. Skateboards, golf umbrellas, fishing rods, Christmas crackers and party poppers are also not allowed.

Items not allowed in any luggage include flammable liquids, matches, lighters and bleach.

Locking your luggage

You can lock your hold luggage, but security staff may open it if they feel they need to check the contents. If you are travelling to or through the USA, you should lock your case with a padlock approved by the Transportation Security Administration, the organisation which works to keep transport systems in the US safe. This will allow staff to open your case, should they need to, and lock it again without damaging the lock. For details visit the TSA website.

For more information about banned items, luggage restrictions and security at Stansted airport, visit the Stansted airport website.