Let's say I have a direct flight from San Francisco (SFO) to London (LHR), with no checked luggage.

I buy a bottle of expensive alcohol post-security at SFO, but my flight gets cancelled and I get re-routed via New York (JFK). All of a sudden I have to change terminals at JFK and clear security, with the stuff I bought at SFO.

Am I right thinking that my options at that point are either to discard the expensive bottle, or be prepared to check it in at JFK (allow extra time, carry a bag with sufficient padding etc)?

Does the fact that the change of route was effectively imposed upon me by the airline make any difference?

  • 1
    At very minimum, if you are re-routed against your will, you should have all the right to explain the situation to the officers and present evidence of your purchase. Being it an exceptional event, they should be more willing to accommodate. Anyway, see the answer. – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Nov 21 at 14:10
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    @usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ no amount of "explaining your situation" will allow you to bring liquids over 1.5oz.through security. This being the pivot point of OP's problem. – Harper Nov 21 at 21:16
  • I know from the question that we are talking about US, but I start from the assumption that while EU has the strictest consumer protection laws, US provides at least some protection to customer purchases. – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Nov 22 at 8:17
up vote 16 down vote accepted

TSA in the United States, and airport security in some other countries, will generally permit liquids in a secured, tamper evident bag (STEB) with a duty free receipt from within the past 24 hours, even if they are larger than the ordinary liquid size limit.

However, according to the TSA's website this officially only applies to liquids purchased internationally that are being brought into the US. Practically, you very well may have a decent shot of having it accepted in a sealed bag even if it's from a domestic source, but it would be a gamble. And even with a STEB, the TSA can reserve the right to refuse it, so there's always some risk when carrying liquids.

Many connections in the US are now possible without going through security again, so if this comes up, it's worth asking the airline if you could be rerouted elsewhere to avoid the need for rescreening, if there's an itinerary that's reasonable. Duty free often isn't a great deal in US airports anyway (you still have to pay sales tax).

You do have one other option besides discarding or checking it if you happen to be flying JetBlue and it's beer or wine: drink it. You can't serve yourself, but you can hand the bottle to the cabin crew, and they'll serve you. If the bottle is going to waste anyway, make friends on the flight.

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    +1 for makes friends on the flight. I like this option the best. – Burhan Khalid Nov 21 at 8:36
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    As an option, you could make friends in the JFK terminal prior to clearing security again. – FreeMan Nov 21 at 13:14
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    I would recommend against this approach - theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/25/… – emory Nov 21 at 14:38
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    I had this problem once. Bought expensive perfume. Flight was cancelled. Was rerouted out of another airport. Walked back to store and got the perfume put in a STEB. It was accepted. (Weird bit, store insisted they could not put my bottle in a STEB. Swapped it for one on the shelf and put the fresh bottle in the STEB. Illogical on many levels. Wanted to say, "What if next customer wants a STEB?" Did not.) – David Schwartz Nov 21 at 17:30
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    @DavidSchwartz: Remember that the ostensible reason for the whole liquids nonsense at security is that terrorists might smuggle liquid ingredients for bombs through security disguised as bottles of something harmless. The swap is such that something that goes in a STEB can't have been under your control, so it is (supposedly) certain that it's not a bomb component. If you somehow had a tampered-with perfume bottle and it gets swapped around, the next random customer who bought your original bottle would not be planning to make a bomb out of it. – Henning Makholm Nov 21 at 20:02

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