HEATHROW airport has announced a trial change at its security gates to try and make travel smoother for families.

The airport is hoping to make things easier for those travelling during the half-term break.

The trial will see eGates open to children as young as 10 for the first time at the airport, in terminal 5.

Currently the gates were only open to people aged 12 and above at UK airports.

However, those involved in the scheme have said they hope the move will contribute to "smooth and seamless" travel during the holiday.

The airport saw the busiest January since before the pandemic as traveller numbers return, with passengers no longer facing restrictions.

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But the increased demand comes alongside the threat of strikes, coming from security guards, engineers and firefighters at the airport.

It is hoped that having more passengers using the eGates could be a way to limit disruption.

Border Force chief Phil Douglas told the annual conference of the Airport Operators Association in January that one of the reasons under 12s can't use the gates is to reduce the risk of child smuggling.

However, he feels children would still be able to be protected with the change.

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He said: "Part of the reason why we don't allow children to use the e-gates is technological – because children's faces change. 

"But there's a balance to be struck between helping families not to queue and making sure our safeguarding processes work."

Should the trial be successful, other airports in the country could adopt the change soon after.

Mr Douglas hopes it will available at all airports in time for the summer holidays.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper, said at the same event in January: "We have to be comfortable that the technology works for that age cohort. 

"But if those trials are successful I'm sure ministers will want to make sure that we have as smooth and seamless a progress into the country as possible."

The change will speed up Brits who return to the UK who currently have to queue to see a Border Force agent if travelling with their young kids.

The use of eGates was initially only for anyone aged 18 or over – this was reduced to 12 and over back in 2017.

It's not just the UK that uses the system, with Brits able to use the eGates in Spain and Portugal as well.

It is not the only security change that will be brought in at airports soon either.

Passengers will soon be allowed to take two litres worth of liquids in their hand luggage under a major relaxation of airport rules. 

It means holidaymakers can take a big bottle of water, tube of toothpaste or can of deodorant through security for their flight.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “The tiny toiletry has become a staple of airport security checkpoints, but that’s all set to change.”

Cutting-edge tech will be phased in over the next two years to allow the new rules to come in by June 2024.

X-Ray scanners will give officers a clearer 3D image of what’s in passengers bags.

Ministers hope the tech will cut queuing times while also catching possible threats.

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Meanwhile, strikes in Spanish airports are threatening to cause chaos and disruption over half-term.

And Brits have been issued a warning over visiting another popular holiday destination this year.

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