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Heathrow Duty-free and liquor?

I've had no luck getting an answer from British Air's customer service although I've asked twice. I remember that the duty-free stores, including what I think may be called "World of Whiskies" are located after one goes through all the security checkpoints for the outbound journey from Heathrow to US destinations. I've also, I think, heard anecdotally that if one is flying non-stop to a US destination, that one may purchase alcoholic beverages that can be sealed in special bags and carried aboard US-bound flights, and if the US destination is one's final objective (with no further flights). Although it is not critical to my UK trip later this year, it would be nice to be able to take home a couple of bottles of Scotch that are not obtainable in the US, Let alone in one's own state. Has anyone on this forum some current information,on this issue?

Posted by
180 posts

You need to check with US customs on how much is allowed back into the States. But yes, Terminal 5 (BA's main terminal at Heathrow) does have those duty free shops with lots of alcohol. And yes, they do put them in sealed bags.

Posted by
9110 posts

Go back to the first line of my initial response. Most of what followed was obfuscation. You can do it.

Posted by
149 posts

Thanks, Ed. Got it. Obfuscation may not be entirely a bad thing. Our elected politicos have refined the practice. Jim

Posted by
9110 posts

It's actually quite simple. You can do exactly what you asked as long as you don't exceed what Washington allows you to bring into the state. There is no limit to what you may bring into the US for personal use, but you must declare it all and are subject to duty for anything in excess of the duty-free limit. If subsequent flights are involved it must travel as hold baggage.

Posted by
4529 posts

Liquids (including alcohol) purchased within the secure zone may be brought on board aircraft. If at anytime (say a connecting flight), you leave and have to re-enter the secure zones in an airport, you will not be able to bring the liquid (whether sealed or not) onto the plane. It must be in your checked baggage. US law allows alcohol to be imported for personal use. If it exceeds the duty-free limit, you MAY have to pay a small duty. But often it is waived for relatively small amounts and the duty amount is pretty minor. Just be sure to it. State laws vary and you will need to research any restrictions for your state of arrival (landing in US - not necessarily your home state). Now just my opinion, but duty free is not the bargain many people think it is. You can most likely find the same bottles of whatever you want to buy at a duty-free shop at a US liquor store at the same or cheaper price. You can also purchase travel containers for bottles that will protect bottles from damage in your checked luggage (the likelihood of it being stolen is remote). That way you can buy unique bottles from distilleries or wineries that you cannot find in the US.

Posted by
922 posts

One of the things that's not exactly simple and could easily be overlooked or not factored in, but which the article referenced above describes, is that if your flight itinerary involves a stop en route after you have the Duty-Free alcohol in hand, and you are required to pass through Security again, the one litre of liquid will be over the allowable 3.4-oz. limit now allowed for carry-on and it will be confiscated, unless you were able to deposit it in a bag that was being rechecked for placement in the hold. That, however, defeats the OP's stated intent to avoid placing the alcohol in checked baggage to begin with (which I think he stated in a separate post from this one).

Posted by
149 posts

This is from the OP. One correspondent suggested that, in the course of posting my or modification of my original post, I should delete my and repost (I think that's what she wrote) my clarification on the forum. Unlike in many forum structures, it's not obvious how one deletes or edits an existing post. That certainly would have been my preference. I think that the functional design of this forum is not nearly as user-friendly as are the posters themselves. In clarification of my trip plan, I'll be traveling nonstop from Heathrow by British Air to Seattle where my home is located so there'll be no interim stops where I'd go through a new security screening; therefore, the departure and traveling context is 1) arrive at Heathrow from London, 2) check in, deposit check-in baggage, 3) go through airport security, 4) purchase items at the "Heathrow Mall", 5) board aircraft, items in hand and fly nonstop to Seattle, and pass, unscathed, through customs at SeaTac airport. And, finally, my wife and I would be bringing in only our allowed one liter each of an alcoholic beverage, in our case two bottles of Scotch not available in the US. Thanks again for all the useful advice.

Posted by
875 posts

Easy to do just be sure you are on a direct (non-stop/non-connecting) flight home. We had a $300 bottle of Cognac stolen out of our luggage when we had to connect from Paris Chicago DFW (our 1st trip to Europe). We got to Chicago and had to put the Cognac in the checked luggage. We fly non-stop home now after buying anything at duty-free that we don't want to let out of our sight.