TSA loosens international booze carry-on rules

Hartsfield Jackson Airport International Terminal
 (CNN) — Want to buy that bottle of Johnnie Walker Explorers Club at an airport duty-free shop abroad before your return to the United States?

Maybe you’ve never splurged, since you don’t want to place it into your checked baggage, as required for your connecting flight home.

Now there’s a way.

The Transportation Safety Administration’s 3-1-1 rule has been relaxed just a little bit starting Friday, for people coming to the United States from abroad. Travelers who buy alcohol or other liquids at those duty-free airport shops abroad can bring them into the United States on an international flight and carry them onto a connecting flight.

This slight relaxing of the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule affects only some people returning home to the United States from other countries.

Before January 31, a traveler who purchased wine at the Paris airport duty-free shop before flying to New York and on to Omaha, Nebraska, faced a dilemma. Once he cleared U.S. Customs in New York, the TSA required him to pack any liquids into his checked luggage before clearing TSA security to fly to Nebraska.

Now, the TSA will permit international travelers to carry liquids in excess of 100 mL in their carry-on baggage, “provided they were purchased in duty-free shops and placed in secure, tamper-evident bags (STEBs),” according to the TSA website.

The liquids must be screened and cleared by TSA checkpoint security officers, utilizing the same bottled liquid scanner technology that is used to screen medically necessary liquids in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces, according to a TSA official.

Just don’t drink your duty-free booze on that flight to celebrate. That’s still not allowed.

The safest bet is still to check your liquids. That’s because the agency still reserves the right to not clear your favorite drink or lotion. Liquids in metallic, opaque or ceramic bottles or other containers that cannot be scanned properly will not be allowed in carry-on luggage.

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