How to avoid drowning your duty-free sorrows

I recently travelled to Vietnam on Singapore Airlines. I bought a one-litre bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label at Sydney Airport after going through customs. While in transit in Singapore, as I was about to board the plane, the security guard said I couldn't take the Blue Label onto the plane because it was not in a sealed bag.

I explained that I bought it at Sydney Airport and showed him the receipt. He took the bottle from me and I grabbed it back off him — and then I actually dumped the whole bottle in the toilet. Do I have any right to complain? Whatever I buy at Sydney duty-free at the airport is never sealed in a bag.

- K. Van, Homebush.

I feel your pain. Getting your duty-free liquor safely to your destination is a minefield and many travellers have lost out, me included.

The Changi Airport website ( has this to say on its FAQ page: "Passengers ... will be allowed to bring liquid, aerosol and gel items in containers larger than 100 millilitres on board their flight if these items are placed in sealed tamper-evident bags with the receipt clearly displayed in the sealed bag." The staff at the security screening point at the boarding gate were only complying with airport policy when they barred you from boarding since your liquor was not in a sealed, tamper-evident bag and, unfortunately, there's nothing you can do about it.

According to Sydney Airport's customer-service department, the airport's duty-free liquor outlets can provide your liquor in a sealed, tamper-evident bag but they will not do this as a matter of course. You need to advise them at the time of purchase that you will be transiting.

The problem is the lack of uniformity in regulations for carry-on duty-free liquor in airports around the world. If you can do the research, you can find out exactly what regulations apply at the airports you'll be transiting through - but you probably have a life to live.

One way around this is to buy your duty-free liquor on board the aircraft on the final leg of your journey or at the end of your journey at the airport duty-free shops that are usually open for incoming passengers.

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