duty free gin Duty free liquids allowed on board, except when theyre notLast week, returning to the United States, I connected via Munich. It’s a great airport in many respects, much nicer than its rival Frankfurt. Heck, it has its own brewery, AirBräu.

But Munich is a maddening place for one reason: Local airport authorities appear to be making up their own double-secret security policies regarding flights to the United States.

In particular: They’ve created a stricter liquids ban than European or American airport security rules demand.

As in many European airports, flights to the United States get especially zealous security, with extra bonus checkpoints, gates set apart from other flights, and a game of 20 questions before boarding. (New question for me this time was “Are you carrying any electronic items, and when did you last use them?”)

But Munich goes a step further, making things illegal that aren’t illegal elsewhere. Travelers on my flight grumbled that their stick deodorant had been taken away, despite being an opaque solid. But even worse, the perennial bugbear of liquids:

The ban on liquids purchased in the secure area of the airport has already been reversed, making it possible to buy duty free liquor or a bottle of water after security. But not in Munich, if you’re flying to the United States.

When the duty free shop denied my effort to buy a liter of hooch, they told me it’s because of American rules. But that’s not true. It’s not the European rule, either. No details at all on the Munich Airport website. Either the revised rules aren’t trickling down to Bavaria, or, much like in Britain, airport operators are making up the rules as they go along.

I suspect the latter. Consider yourself warned if traveling through Munich.

- Cavalcade of security news: Fingerprints, liquids, and suspicious looking devices
- Making sense of the new TSA liquids policy
- Liquid ban relaxed in the United States


pixel Duty free liquids allowed on board, except when theyre not

17 Responses to “Duty free liquids allowed on board, except when they’re not”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Yes, I went through similarly strict checks in Vienna upon return whereas the checks in US when we departed were much laxer.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    same thing happened to me when flying from Brussels to JFK, but during the liquids ban. Buying beer at the duty-free shop, the check-out guy looks at our boarding passes and says, “You’re flying Delta, yeah, you can’t buy this.” Apparently rules vary from airline to airine.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    …if it was during the liquids ban, then it was correct. and the guy probably said delta as a shorthand for flying to the u.s.

    but what munich (and vienna, i guess) are doing is crap. the rules are relaxed. why aren’t the duty free stores protesting?

  4. The Global Traveller Says:

    I’ve heard from a Munich-based friend that the current set up is even worse than in the US.

    As for making up rules, they are not alone. At BOS I had my small 1oz liquid bottle enclosed in a ziplock bag and screened seperately confiscated.

  5. BoonDoggie Says:

    “Are you carrying any electronic items, and when did you last use them?”

    I’ve been asked a variation on that question at LHR/LGW on every exit since well before 911.

    It seems variable at other international airports.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    the boston screener was arbitrarily making decisions, but it seems the munich and vienna airports are systematically imposing stricter rules.

    maybe, can we start a list of “offensive” airports that are particularly guilty of making up rules like this? not the ones with individual screeners on a power trip, but the systematic ones? thoughts?

  7. The Global Traveller Says:

    I like the idea of an offensive airports list.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    re: Brussels and Delta:

    Even though it was during the liquids ban, Delta was the only US airline preventing passengers from buying liquids from Duty Free.

  9. Upgrade: Travel Better » Blog Archive » Update: Munich Airport responds to questions about its duty free policy Says:

    [...] 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.) [...]

  10. Upgrade: Travel Better » Blog Archive » Duty free liquids soon to be liberated? Says:

    [...] Related: – Duty free liquids allowed on board, except when they’re not – Update: Munich Airport responds to questions about its duty free policy (image) « Short hops — December 21, 2006 [...]

  11. Euro traveler Says:

    You are correct in that airports have differing rules than the U.S./EU rules governing duty free liquids. I recently purchased a bottle of alcohol in Oslo and flew through Copenhagen then onto the U.S. without a problem (flew SAS). I was able to carry the bottle in its sealed bag onto the flight departing Copenhagen for the U.S. without a problem. There wasn’t even any screening or questions. Once I got to the U.S. I just had to check it into my bags for flights continuing on. Then, just 2 weeks ago I flew from Brussels to Amsterdam to D.C., but this time when I purchased alcohol in Brussels and tried to take it on board the U.S. bound flight in Amsterdam they confiscated it all. I filed a complaint with the airport citing the inconsistency of rules within the EU in that there was no problem going through Copenhagen on New Years Day (of all days when you would think crazies would want to strike the U.S. on that day if ever!) but in Amsterdam they choose to confiscate anything not purchased at Amsterdam duty free. These are either country specific rules or airport specific. In either case, the EU obviously has no control over what it’s member states decide to do with certain airport regulations.

  12. Chris Says:

    This happened to me while flying from Barbados. Not only was I forced to checkin the 2 bottles of liquor I bought in the secured area of the airport, FREAKING American Airlines lost my liquor then delivered shattered rum soaked bottles to my house. I am sooooooooooo pissed. Checking glass bottles onto an airplane that were bought in a secured area is as dumb and unnecessary as it gets.

  13. Maria Says:

    I just had this very problem in Amsterdam! I bought three bottles in Copenhagen, showing them my boarding passes to Amsterdam and on to Minneapolis. They sealed the 3 bottles in the special clear plastic bag, receipt clearly visible. All was well until we went to board in Amsterdam, and a guy came up to tell me (ruefully) that I couldn’t take it, and had to deposit it in security. He said there were 3 or 4 airports which still were sending along duty-free stuff, even after a year of Amsterdam informing them that they wouldn’t be allowed any further! I believe they were Copenhagen and Milan, and can’t recall the others. Anyhow, I asked whether I could give them away (no) and whether they at least sold the bottles and gave the money to charity or something (no). He said all were destroyed, and mentioned that they already had a full bin that day, including Dom Perignon! I then asked if I could at least try my three bottles, and he said that was fine, so I stood to the side and opened first the Lapponia blueberry liqueur (very sweet, and not as interesting as I’d hoped), some Cherry Heering-style cherry cordial from Denmark (predictably cough syrupy, but not bad) and a very tasty (and cheap) orange aperitif by Cinzano. It seemed to be fairly entertaining for the other travelers to watch a passenger open and swig from three bottles, make pronouncements on their quality, and hand them over to the trash can.

    But I’m still ticked off at the Copenhagen duty-free shop!

  14. Dr Vino’s wine blog » Blog Archive » Traveling with wine puzzle revealed! Mark Ashley of Upgrade: Travel Better Says:

    [...] comment on the original posting is a case in point. My own experience in Munich last year (detailed here) was very much the same. Flights to the US had an additional checkpoint — after the initial [...]

  15. G Luderer Says:

    I flew out of Munich to LA on 17 November 2007, bought duty free liquor there and had no problem getting it through onto the plane.
    In contrast, a year ago when I left Munich with duty free liquor bought there, at Philadelphia airport I could not board my connection to Phoenix with the liquor.
    But they were friendly enough to help me to return to the luggage check-in to put the bottle into checked luggage.

  16. Anna Says:

    I just flew back to the US from Johannesburg, South Africa on Delta and was told the same thing – nothing over 100 ml’s allowed on the plane, even if it’s a bottle of wine you bought at the duty free after going through security.

    ironically, delta then sells duty free items on board the plane once you’ve taken of.

  17. marthafines Says:

    Merry Christmas to all… and to all a good night.

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