Flying To America

Flying To America Flying to the US.

Following the 10 August 2006 terrorist plot in the UK, the majority of airports have brought in strict new security rules regarding the carrying of liquids/gels/pastes in hand-luggage.

If you were planning on taking Auntie Marge in New Hampshire her favourite bottle of your home-made elderberry wine, make sure you wrap it up well and check it in. You won’t be able to stick it in your hand-luggage. If you think on a long haul flight that you can’t be without the 200ml bottle of Chanel you got at Christmas well, you’ll have to be (even if it’s half empty). The norm now is that passengers will not be allowed to get onto a plane with more than 100ml of any single liquid or gel, which must be presented at security in a sealable transparent bag. That final security check may be after check-in, or may not be until you reach the gate…but it will happen. Anything above that 100ml will be confiscated.

This does not mean that you can’t buy duty-free, but be VERY careful. If you are travelling into the US and have purchased duty free at your departure point, but your first airport stop is not your final destination (eg you have flown into Newark and are then travelling down into Florida), your duty free will be confiscated (as will any fragrances over 100ml). It doesn’t matter if it’s the most expensive and exclusive Cognac, it will be taken away. It won’t matter how much you scream and shout.

The EU is working hard to reach an agreement for transiting travellers within the US and within the EU, but at the time of writing nothing had been agreed. The rules are not just applicable to the US. If you were travelling to the US from, say, India – transiting through London and then flying onto the US, you would also have any duty free purchased at your departure airport confiscated in London.

Currently, transferring within the EU is ok (eg if you were flying from London to Paris and then on to Hamburg) It’s all based on the security bags that the duty free goods are placed in – called STEBS and how secure they are deemed to be. The EU is working hard to approve applying third countries, but not all are interested in complying with EU wishes.

Now, if you have come from Singapore and are transferring within the EU you will also be able to hang on to your duty free. But fly from Singapore and then transfer within the US – no go. Other third countries are also set to be accepted by the EU (but not necessarily the US) this year. And there are other rules between other countries; Australia is being particularly strict. It’s extremely complicated and confusing. So the advice is: pack as many essential liquids as you are going to need on your travels and check them in – or buy them once you get there. Check before you buy any duty free, especially if you are transiting within the EU or within the US. Currently there are still thousands of litres of booze being confiscated daily, which is no fun for anyone.

There may be exemptions if you have to carry essential medical supplies. Again, the best advice is to check with your airline before you go again, especially if you will be transiting.

There are associations working very hard to try and alleviate these problems for travellers (and the suppliers of the goods being confiscated), so the best thing is to check and double check before you lose goods and money. The 100ml rule, however, is not likely to change in the foreseeable future….liquid explosives just pose too big a threat.