Duty-Free Alcohol Confiscated at the GateMany of us like to pick up a bottle or two of duty-free alcohol when flying back to Australia from overseas. But many flyers have been caught out by the restrictions placed on liquids carried onto Australia-bound flights. Countless unsuspecting travellers have had their liquor confiscated before they’ve even made it onto the aircraft!

So, what are the rules on carrying duty-free alcohol to Australia? And what can you do to ensure your duty-free purchases are not confiscated?

The Australian government does not allow liquids, gels or aerosols (LAGs) over 100mL to be carried onto international flights to or from Australia. This includes airport duty-free alcohol purchases, unless delivered to you at the boarding gate in a sealed bag.

Even if you’ve already cleared security, most international flights to Australia are subject to secondary security screening for liquids, aerosols and gels at the boarding gate. (The only exceptions are flights departing from New Zealand or the United States.) And at airports such as Singapore, all security screening is done at the boarding gate. This is where people often get caught out and have their duty-free alcohol confiscated.

Many frequent flyers prefer to buy duty-free alcohol overseas because it is cheaper than in Australia. You can still do this, but make sure you ask if the shop provides a gate-delivery service for flights to Australia. If so, your purchase will be handed to you at the boarding gate in a sealed bag. You’ll be allowed to take it on board as long as you don’t open the bag.

If you’re transiting through another airport before arriving in Australia, beware that your duty-free alcohol will likely be confiscated before boarding the final flight to Australia. That’s exactly what happened recently to an AFF member bringing duty-free alcohol to Australia while transiting through Bangkok.

I travelled from Delhi to Sydney yesterday, during transit at Bangkok Airport they confiscated my two very expensive bottles of scotch just before boarding gate. These bottles were purchased at Delhi Airport and still sealed in a security bag. Their explanation was that Australian law doesn’t allow any liquids more than 100 ml to be carried as carry on. They just took the bottles, no paperwork was done or provided – unreal.

You can buy duty-free alcohol on board the flight to Australia (unless you’re flying Qantas), or after landing in Australia. Your purchase won’t be subject to the LAGs rules unless you’re connecting to another international flight from Australia. There are currently no restrictions on liquids taken onto domestic flights within Australia.

If you’re carrying liquids that you purchased overseas before arriving at the airport, simply place them in your checked baggage. Items in checked-in luggage are not subject to the same restrictions on liquids, gels, aerosols and (as of June 2018) powders.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Alcohol confiscated at Bangkok Airport in transit – isn’t it a scam?

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]