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Don't buy liquids at Duty Free Shop

Returning from Rome to US we purchased a bottle of Limoncello at the airport Duty Free Shop as a gift. After navigating customs in the US we had to go through TSA checkpoint. No liquids over 3oz allowed! You can't access your checked luggage so we were stuck. I hope the TSA agents enjoyed the treat.

Posted by
2876 posts

If your flight from Europe is a direct flight to your home airport, this is not a problem. But if you have to land at a hub airport in the US, and then transfer to a domestic flight to your home, you're back under TSA restrictions for the domestic flight. Anything over 3 oz. would have to be in your checked bags. I've seen many a traveler lose their carefully packed bottles of wine this way.

Posted by
21667 posts

But -- we have always had to pick up our checked luggage, then go through customs, and recheck luggage for connecting flight. At that point you could put your bottle in your checked luggage if you want to chance it. On all of our returns to the US that has always been the process when connecting in the US.

Posted by
31 posts

If we had been notified about the problem, yes. But once you clear customs you drop your baggage on the conveyor, THEN you go through TSA. Too late to solve the problem. Next time I will know duty free doesn't mean anything to TSA.

Posted by
21667 posts

Duty free means nothing to customs either. Duty Free means duty free where you bought and NOT duty free to the US. Sounds like was a good learning experience for you given all of the other problems you have had. Might have been well to have done some advance reading.

Posted by
9363 posts

I wanted to bring back some Spanish sidra when I was there, but I knew I would have to change planes in London and couldn't carry it beyond there in my bag. It stinks, but that's how it is.

Posted by
284 posts

J Scott, The set up after clearing customs is airport specific. In some airports they dump you outside of security and you have to go to the ticket counter to drop off your checked luggage and then go to security. While at others they keep you inside security and you put your luggage on a conveyer. All depends on the airport you are passing through. Reminds me of the KC airport where each and every gate had their own security. If you had to make a call, get a bite to eat, go to the bathroom, etc. you exited security and had to go through it again to get to the gate. Every connecting flight through KC resulted in you exiting security and having to get back through security to make the connecting flight. I heard it might have changed. But one time was enough to avoid KC airport forever. Edwin Edwin

Posted by
21667 posts

The above is not accurate. The issue is accessed to your checked luggage. Once you have had access to your checked luggage you have go through personal security again. Because your checked luggage could contain knifes, liquids greater than 3 oz, etc.. Who knows what you took out of your checked luggage? There is no staying behind security. Once you have cleared customs with your checked luggage you will go through security again unless it is your home airport. How or where you dump your checked luggage can be airport specific and will vary. But you never avoid security.

Posted by
2876 posts

Bottom line: transport all liquid containers of more than 3 ounces in your checked luggage. If your bags are already checked, and you buy something over 3 ounces in the duty-free, AND your itinerary is going to involve another security check along the way, you'd better find a way to move those purchases to your checked bags or they're going to be confiscated.

Posted by
1357 posts

The security thing can be a bit airport-specific. In Atlanta, even though it's our final stop, we have to go through security after going through customs.

Posted by
31 posts

Yes...lesson learned. I was lucky it wasn't more than just a fairly inexpensive gift. I'll know better next time.

Posted by
2876 posts

Atlanta must be the only airport that security-screens you after you land.

Posted by
963 posts

Houston and Dulles both screen again after leaving Immigration/customs/rechecking bags even though one hasn't left the secured area.Think I recall MSP did also 3 years ago.

Posted by
3580 posts

I flew from Rome to Dulles to catch a connecting flight to SFO. I had to go thru security at Dulles, so it's a good thing I didn't buy any liquids at the Rome airport.

Posted by
932 posts

We've flown through Newark the last two times we went to Europe and both times, we had to go through security again before our connecting flight. I thought it was annoying, but I never thought about how pissed I'd be if I'd bought something that got confiscated! I will note your experience and make sure to be careful in future trips since the security checkpoints vary from airport to airport...

Posted by
2876 posts

Of course you'll be re-screened if you're transferring to a second flight, but apparently Atlanta re-screens you even if it's your last stop and you're headed home.

Posted by
1357 posts

Yep. I think it's due to the set-up. The international terminal is all the way at the end of the airport, the farthest terminal away from baggage claim. You have to go through the whole airport to get out.

Posted by
9110 posts

Okay. The all-time liquids tale: Herself had a partial bottle of olives in her carry-on. The German security-screener (place unspecified) got suspicious on the x-ray machine and snagged it out. Being fair, he strainned the juice thorugh his fingers, stuffed the olives back in the jar, and put it back in the bag. We did not eat the rest of the olives.

Posted by
284 posts

J Scott - each airport is different and may change over time. But things you may run into: 1) go through security to exit an airport 2) go through security after passing through the first time and not leaving the secured area where there are duty free shops
3) go through security when switching gates at an airport Edwin

Posted by
5777 posts

I have to add that even though you think you know an Airports layout and whether it requires going through security to go out...things can change. In Chicago I have arrived at both the International terminal...no Security to get out, and at the main terminal, where we did have to go through Security. Something as simple as a gate change can ruin your plan.

Posted by
1897 posts

Atlanta won't change for at least another year. You will always have to rescreen even if Atlanta is your final destination. The new terminal will fix this someday