Buying Bottles Overseas & Their Safe Return
Q: I’m hoping to purchase a fine bottle of Scotch whisky at the Duty Free shop in Glasgow on my way home from Scotland. My flight has me transferring airplanes in both Heathrow and Toronto before returning home to London, Ontario. I’ve been told I need to have a “security tamper evident bag” when travelling by air. What is that?Buying
A: It is a clear plastic bag designed to stow liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGS) purchased by airline passengers at duty free shops in selected airports. Time was, before 9/11, when one could travel without having to pass through security let alone having to have all your bags screened. After 9/11, one needed to pass through some form of security screening but could purchase duty free liquids (alcohol, perfumes etc) outside of the screening areas and bring them on board. That is until a failed attempt by terrorists to blow up aircraft using a combination of liquid chemicals. As a result liquids, including bottled water, were no longer allowed on board. Duty free shoppes around the world lost enormous business. Responding to complaints by airport tenants who operated these shops, the duty free stores were relocated to being inside the security area. That left one problem. If you were transferring between aircraft at different airports and needed to go through security screening areas again, your duty free purchase would be confiscated. That problem too was solved with the advent of these clear plastic bags that could be sealed by the retailer with a telltale sign of having been tampered with or opened. Security screening agents then could check for these telltale signs and allow them through if seen to be untampered with.
Since you will have need to go through security screening once again at Heathrow and again after clearing customs in Toronto, and if as you suggest intend on purchasing your fine Scotch whisky in Glasgow, you will have need for these bags. Since June 1 2011, duty-free purchases from any EU nation packaged in a security tamper evident bag have been accepted for screening at all major Canadian airports. These tamper evident bags relate only to duty-free purchases. You are still able to pack regulation size (100 millilitres/3ounces) LAGs in any unsealed clear plastic bag and put it in your carry-on for easy check point navigation.
It’s a good thing your flight routing back to London, Ontario doesn’t have you flying through the United States. If your return flight from an EU nation involves a stop in the U.S., the tamper evident bag will not be accepted at screening check points in the U.S. You would be well advised to put your duty free purchases in your checked bag after clearing customs in the U.S. Otherwise, you will likely have them confiscated.
If that were the case, and you had to pack them into your checked baggage, that would then bring to mind your next problem. How to securely pack your fine Scotch whisky or bottle of fine wine in your luggage so that the bottle won’t break. Check out a product called the Vinnibag. VinniBag is a reusable travel bag with inflatable air chambers that protect and insulate wine bottles, other liquids, and fragile items. It’s designed to provide remarkable protection against impact and leakage, it’s easy to use, and it stores flat, rolled or folded when not in use. Travelling with wine, olive oil or just regular toiletries can be worrisome at any time, awkward at best and disastrous at worst. But whether it’s in your checked suitcase or carry on luggage, a checked backpack or even a duffel bag, your Scotch whisky will arrive in good order, without worry inside the protective walls of the Vinnibag.