The following, quite literally verbatim, from Channel 4 News.
A plot to blow up passenger flights in mid-air has been foiled by police and security services. The official security threat level in Britain has been moved up from severe to critical which means an imminent attack is expected. Around 20 people were arrested overnight in London in connection with the plans which are believed to involve detonating explosives smuggled onto planes in hand luggageFlights between Britain and the US are thought to have been targeted. Security at all UK airports has been increased and additional security measures been put in place for all flights. All passengers will be hand-searched and have their shoes X-rayed before boarding their flight and all bags must now be checked in. Travellers are only allowed to carry a few items such as wallets, travel documents, medicines and spectacles into the cabin and are being asked to put them in a clear carrier bag. Parents with young children can take baby food, milk, nappies and wipes aboard. But the cabin ban includes handbags, mobiles phones, laptops, iPods and electrical key fobs. For a full list click here http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_about/documents/page/dft_about_612280.hcsp Pushchairs and walking aids must be X-ray screened, and only airport-provided wheelchairs may pass through the screening point. All passengers boarding flights to the USA will have to undergo a second search at the boarding gate. A spokesman for the Department of Transport said: "Regrettably, significant delays at airports are inevitable. "Passengers are being asked to allow themselves plenty of extra time and to ensure that other than the few permitted items, all their belongings are placed in their hold baggage and checked in. "These additional security measures will make travel more difficult for passengers, particularly at such a busy time of the year. But they are necessary and will continue to keep flights from UK airports properly secure. "We hope that these measures, which are being kept under review by the Government, will need to be in place for a limited period only. "In light of the threat to aviation and the need to respond to it, we are asking the travelling public to be patient and understanding and to co-operate fully with airport security staff and the police. "If passengers have any questions on their travel arrangements or security in place at airports they should contact their airline or carrier." A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "We would like to reassure the public that this operation was carried out with public safety uppermost in our minds. This is a major operation which inevitably will be lengthy and complex." Home Secretary John Reid said the alleged plot was "very significant" and was designed to "bring down a number of aircraft through mid-flight explosions, causing a considerable loss of life".