A few weeks ago, I expressed dissatisfaction at the seemingly arbitrary restriction placed on duty free liquor purchases at Munich Airport. (On October 13, the duty free shop refused to sell me a liter of anything, saying that it wasn’t permitted for flights to the United States.)
I wrote an e-mail to the Munich Airport, asking why this was the case, considering that there was no German or European law that I could find requiring such strict limitations, and since the TSA’s published rule only required duty free purchases to be made “after security,” which this was. (Although, as is common for U.S.-bound flights, there was another redundant — and mind-bogglingly slow — security check at the entrance to the gate area.)
This past Friday, a representative of the Bavarian State Ministry of Commerce, Infrastructure, Transportation, and Technology responded. In German. (I had written to them in English, with the notation that I intended to publish their reply on this blog.)
Luckily I can read German… so here is my translation of the relevant bits:
At the time of your inquiry, only the TSA placed any restrictions on duty-free goods, including the “delivery at gate” procedure. Implementation of such a process was not possible for the shop’s managers. A separate duty free shop solely for the United Airlines and US Airways gates does not exist at the airport.
Since then, the EU-wide regulations governing the transportation of liquids and the purchase of duty-free goods have taken effect. With the implementation of these rules, duty-free goods may once again be purchased.
Click here for the complete reply in the original German (pdf).
I’m sorry, but this still doesn’t explain the intra-European variation between airports. If the TSA’s rules were so clear, then the procedures should have been standard. Other airports were not requiring delivery of liquids to the gate. This sounds like buck-passing by local airport officials or state bureaucrats.
Thankfully, at the end of the day, the standardization of rules across the EU means that such incidents may be less frequent. And you’ve got it in writing, Munich allows duty free purchases for flights to the U.S. That’s good.
But the EU guidelines remain a minimum requirement. Any airport, and any airline, can impose stricter rules regarding carry-on bags. Here’s hoping they don’t.