Battle to get duty-free bottles on board

While waiting to board our plane in Shanghai, my wife and I decided to get rid of our remaining yuan and buy some duty-free liquor. Luckily for us, we had enough money for only two bottles. We presented our boarding passes for Brisbane with a transit stop at Singapore. When buying the two litres nothing was said. But when boarding our plane in Singapore, our two litres were confiscated. Can you please tell me what the story is with duty-free?

- P. Bradbury , Brisbane.

Buying liquor from airport duty-free shops is a minefield for inbound travellers to Australia. The Australian government stipulates that passengers on incoming flights are not allowed to board an aircraft with any liquid, aerosol or gel (LAG items) in excess of 100 millilitres in carry-on luggage. This is a security precaution because explosives in liquid form have the potential to bring down an aircraft. The Singapore authorities were only doing what was required of them.

To complicate matters, the stipulation is not universally applied. For example, if you board an aircraft in Hong Kong or Ho Chi Minh City heading for Australia, you will not be allowed on with duty-free liquor in your carry-ons. However, Tripologist correspondents have reported that in a number of other airports, such as Kuala Lumpur, passengers can board with liquor bought from airport duty-free shops.

Staff in airport duty-free shops are usually aware of Australian government regulations and will frequently advise against buying liquor. In your case, it seems that as far as the staff at the Shanghai duty-free were concerned, you were on a flight heading for Singapore and Singapore is more relaxed than the Australian government about duty-free liquor bought at the airport. Had you bought your duty-free liquor in Singapore's Changi Airport instead, you would have been able to collect it at the boarding gate.

The other alternative is to buy from the duty-free shop for incoming passengers when you arrive at an Australian international airport but neither of these solutions help you one bit when you want to dispose of your excess yuan.

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