Duty free problems ahead – and overhead

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.


“Please Sir, do you mind if you put that bottle under your feet?”

While the Lufthansa stewardess’s words were framed as a question, her tone indicated they were a directive. And a surprise. For ‘that bottle’ was a fine bottle of German Riesling I had just purchased at the excellent new-look Heinemann Travel Value store at Hamburg Airport.

It had been packed properly in that familiar mesh airport retailers use for bottles and then placed in a shopping bag.

As ever, I had placed my travel retail purchase in the overhead compartment. It was crammed in (deliberately) next to my briefcase, and in no danger of rolling around, to ensure safe carriage during the journey

logo_lufthansaNot on this journey (flight LH 4794 Hamburg-London on 27 August) it transpired.

The stewardess, friendly but brisk, noticed my raised eyebrow and precipitated my question. “It’s just in case it leaks,” she explained. “The wiring will be exposed.”

As we were nearing take-off time I did I as I was told and placed the bottle under the seat in front of me. But then like the good duty free Publisher I am, I decided to query this seemingly new policy (I have flown Lufthansa several times in the past year and never encountered it).

“Excuse me,” I asked politely, the next time the stewardess passed by my seat. “Why did you ask me to put the bottle under my seat? I didn’t really understand your explanation.”

“Because the wiring is underneath,” she explained in that tone unique to cabin crew, vaguely akin to the windchill factor at 35,000 feet, while pointing to the lighting and air blowers under the overhead compartment.

“Really? Does that apply to all duty free liquids?”

“Yes – that is what we do. Because it is breakable and it may leak.”

“But I’m very surprised. Other airlines insist you put nothing under your feet during take-off and that all items must be stowed away in the overhead compartment!”

“Maybe they have a different construction.” And with that she turned on her heels and left to take up her position at the back of the plane.

Now I don’t know what prompted this new ‘policy’ but perhaps someone should check it out (we have advised the ETRC). For if one of the world’s biggest airlines is now saying duty free liquids are not safe to be carried in the hand luggage compartments, there may be problems up ahead – and overhead.

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  • This is just happening to me in a United flight 363 February 18 2017 from Panama to Buenos Aires. It’s a 6:45 minute flight and it’s a crazy idea to think that bottles on your feet are safer than in the overhead compartment.