Pack this, not that! (Duty Free Edition)

Before anyone gets antsy or annoyed and says, “How dare you insult my intelligence and offer me tips on packing, I am well-traveled”… know that this post is not directed towards you.  This post is directed to the individuals who are not well-traveled.  To those who have NEVER traveled to a foreign destination.  To those who have always been “team carry-on”.  This post stemmed from observations in the ATL airport after returning from a trip abroad.

Having traveled abroad extensively, I am pretty well versed with the rules for checked luggage.  Because I am a collector of fine artifacts of the liquid variety, I am NEVER team carry on.  Therefore, I know when you return from a trip abroad that you have claim your baggage and re-check it after passing through customs, unless you have reached your final destination and do not have a connecting flight.  Unfortunately, because I am not in one of the major hubs, I ALWAYS have a connecting flight.  So, I make sure that I carry bubble wrap and packing boxes to protect my artifacts.  I try to travel with airlines where I will not have to pay the baggage fee for traveling abroad, or at least minimize the cost by taking the maximum sized luggage as a carry-on when I depart and checking it in when I return.  That way, instead of paying $50 in baggage fees where I do not have status, I only pay $25.

Well, as I mentioned, this post stemmed from my observations passing through customs at the ATL airport.  There was a gentleman who was coming from Cancun and had purchased some tequila at duty-free on his way back to the states.  His final destination was not ATL, so he would have to pass back through airport security before making his connecting flight.  Well, he thought that he should be okay to continue with his flight plans and carry the bottles in his checked bag because he just arrived at the airport from another flight.  He didn’t thing the 3-1-1 rule applied.  Of course, he found out that it did.  He was a little miffed that he now had to pony up $25 to pay to check-in his luggage so that he could get the bottles to his final destination.

Typically when one purchases alcohol at the airport duty-free office, you asked whether or not you have a connecting flight and informed that you need to put the alcohol in your checked bag if so.  However, this isn’t always the case.  I was not informed by the duty-free attended at my departing airport that I would have to place the bottles in my checked luggage before connecting to my other flight, but it isn’t a big deal because I know better.  So, when the gentleman tried (in vain) to state his case about not being informed that this was the protocol, I kinda believe him.

So, what is my advice to individuals who are first time flyers abroad.  Do your homework.  Visit the airline’s website to know what can and cannot be placed in your baggage (checked and carry on).  People will be surprised to know that batteries and household cleaners and aerosol cannot be placed in checked baggage.  And if you take your adult toys, please take the batteries out before packing them or at least put it in your carry on baggage.  Make sure you know how much liquid can be placed in your checked baggage.  Most airlines have the 70oz rule; however, this is flexible when you have to transfer your liquid artifacts to your checked luggage.  Two bottles of a nice rum will certainly push you over that limit.

I am sure that the gentleman was not happy to pony up that $25, but at least he his now aware of the process and will be better prepared in the future.  Hopefully someone who has NEVER been outside of their native country, but it planning to do so, will read this and not face the same travel shock as this gentleman.


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