Threatened duty free seizures lead to uproar

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


First there was road rage, then air rage, now it appears duty free rage has been born. And given the variance in LAGs regulations around the world – and the interpretation of them – should we be surprised?

According to today’s Manchester Evening News, a near riot occurred after ‘around 100’ travellers faced the seizure of their duty free liquor and tobacco when their flight from Las Vegas stopped at Glasgow Airport this week en route to their final destination of Manchester.

According to the report, ‘trouble flared’ when the travellers were told that as their purchases were in stapled rather than sealed bags, they would be confiscated.

“Police were called as angry holidaymakers argued with customs staff who eventually agreed to let the duty free travel in the plane’s hold after airline bosses stepped in,” the report said.

The aircraft reportedly ended up being delayed for almost two hours because of the time taken to resolve the dispute and seal the bags.

Two passengers, Norman and Georgina Lloyd, describe the affair as ‘a total shambles’.

“We were told we had to get off, show our passports and everything and then get back on again,” Norman Lloyd told the newspaper. “Then they confiscated all this duty free – it was a disaster.”

A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook apologised to passengers and blamed Las Vegas Airport [where The Nuance Group is the duty free retailer] for the problems.

She said: “The bags had just been stapled and not properly sealed and under Department for Transport rules this isn’t acceptable. Some of the passengers got a bit angry when they were told that their duty free would have to be taken off them but fortunately we sorted everything out.

“We’ll be following it up with Las Vegas Airport, we don’t want it to happen again. The passengers weren’t at fault.” She added that no passengers were arrested.

The story may appear comical, certainly farcical. But there’s a serious point here too. Every time a travelling consumer is sold goods that they aren’t allowed to carry beyond an airport transfer point, or their goods are seized wrongly as sometimes happens, industry credibility is eroded and a customer is potentially lost for the long-term.

The Moodie Report constantly tracks consumer correspondence to national newspapers all around the world on the subject of airport shopping. Time and again we read about consumer confusion and anger over the LAGs regulations.

Nearly five years on from the original terrorist alert that sparked the LAGs issue, too often the industry is still not getting it right.

[To read the full story click here.]

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  • This is just the start of it! Technically GLA is correct in their confiscation. There have been strict rules now for near of 5 years regarding that Duty Free goods sold in DF shops should be sealed in tamper proof bags. What is about to happen after the 29th April however will be scandalous. EU airports will continue to confiscate goods in tamper proof bags bought from non EU shops despite a new EU rule allowing goods to be taken in transit from non EU shops if sealed in the afore mentioned tamper proof sealed bags. EU airports have known for 2 years that this rule was coming. What new technology is required to differentiate between 1 bottle of perfume as allowed before to what will be 2 or 3 bottles? None in my opinion, just the greed of EU airports to protect their profits. Once again the poor customer will get the short end of the stick, even though the law will be on their side. Claim against the airport security if your goods are confiscated, not the retailer, as the law is on your side now!

  • It was most definitely farcical. I was on board this flight and something which has not been mentioned throughout the reports is that the crew on the Thomas Cook flight were selling the duty free in unsealed bags throughout the flight and made no suggestion that the items would be confiscated.

    It is absolutely abysmal that they have failed to come out and accept any responsibility for this whilst pushing the blame on to LV airport.

    Just as a footnote, I collected my confiscated goods today and was informed that any other items unclaimed by 5pm today would be destroyed.

    Thanks Thomas Cook.