Bangkok Airport Scams

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This topic contains 18 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  TiredOldHack2 16 Nov 2017
at 14:39

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  • Thuky

    On October 14th, 2017 I was flying from Delhi to Perth Australia via Bangkok on Thai Airways. I bought two bottles of Scotch in Delhi which were sealed for transit through BKK. I passed through security check at BKK and went to the gate without incident. At the gate there was an additional inspection when my bottles of scotch were confiscated (I was not the only one – they were confiscating any liquor not bought from BKK duty free). I was told Australia did not allow carriage of liquor into their country from BKK unless it had been purchased in BKK. The inspector said it was an Australian rule and there was nothing they could do. When I arrived in Perth I checked with two Australian customs officials about this rule. Both officers denied the report and said Australia will accept 2.2 liters of spirits from any duty free shop in the world and BKK was no exception. So it seems I was ripped off by BKK airport.

    BKK is becoming well known for scams relating to duty free – a recent one is the practice of placing items surreptitiously with your duty free shopping and then accusing you of shop-lifting and extorting large amounts of money for your release (as reported by BBC). So fellow-travelers be aware of BKK and don’t carry alcohol through BKK becuase it will probably be confiscated


    Thuky – although there are many reported scams at BKK airport the one you encountered is not one of them.

    On flights to Australia the liquids requirement still applies even to goods purchased airside or onboard (although QF has some exception to this as their aircraft are considered a ‘sterile zone’ – roll eyes emoji). In other words whatever liquids you purchase airside need to be under 100ml and placed into a clear plastic bag for secondary screening at the gate.

    Unfortunately the Duty Free shop staff should have clocked the destination on your boarding pass which you would have presented when purchasing the scotch and advised you of the requirement.

    Of course you can still by Duty Free on arrival at the maga shops in Australia before passport control (at inflated prices – go figure).


    I know about the 100ml rule but most airports will let you transit with alcohol if its sealed in a plastic bag – I have carried such alcohol through European airports in the past. What was suspicious was that they said it would be OK if I had purchased the alcohol in BKK. Also – the Aussies did not seem to have a problem when I asked them about this in great detail in Perth. Finally it was not BKK security that objected – they let me pass through – this was some random check at the gate designed to confiscate alcohol that had passed through BKK because of ‘Australian rules’. Anyway – your reply is appreciated and the lesson is never transit through with alcohol unless its less that 100ml through BKK. I eventually did buy the whisky, again, at Perth’s arrival duty free! Thanks for the response.


    I have been surprised on two recent occasions to be allowed to take duty free through security after going airside.

    First case : I bought a litre of gin at LHR T5 and flew to FRA. I missed my onward connection at FRA due to a delay (and incompetency but that’s another story) and had to stay overnight at FRA in a hotel. I hung onto the gin and was able to get airside the next morning without a proper boarding card, without showing my passport, and with the gin. The security looked at the gin and handed it back to me without a word. Obviously it was still sealed in the original plastic package.

    Second case : I purchased a bottle at CPT and flew to LHR T3, transferred to T5, and then found my onward flight was cdelayed. I ended up abandoning my journey from LHR, booked an EZY flight from LGW, and transferred by bus to LGW. Security there allowed me to keep the bottle as it was still sealed in the original packaging from CPT.

    I found both situations bizarre. Do they really think that a ‘terrorist’ wouldn’t be able to recreate an invoice and a heatsealed plastic bag? This is why I get to annoyed at airport security, it’s a total farce.


    Nothing changes does it! Several years ago when transiting internally on to a THAI domestic flight, arriving at the gate Mrs and I were both relieved of all the liquid and cream contents of our rather nice – unused – Qatar Airways ‘F&J’ amenity bags!
    We had been pre-warned about the booze issue but getting hysterical over a few tubes of Moulton Brown and small bottles of various perfumes etc is a bit OTT! Their reasoning was that the total quantity exceeded 100ml!
    We are doing the same trip in March 2018. Looks as though we may have a similar problem.


    You won’t have the same worry next time, as the contents of the new amenity bags are ghastly. Colour and quality much worse. Three tiny products, about 20 ml each. So good luck.
    Thinks, We too had our sealed booze taken off us at plane security, so it is a scam. Best not to buy if in transit ever. But duty free staff all in the know and will sell you anything, am afraid.


    Thuky I think i see the confusion. The Perth customs officials were referring to duty free allowances into Australia at a customs taxing level assuming you got the bottles on to the plane in your checked luggage.
    The secondary check for all aus bound flights at point of departure confiscates the liquids in carry on luggage as an aircraft security issue imposed by the aus goverment based on god knows what security intelligence. I lost a decent sized bottle of issey miyake frangrance in bkk but was assured it would be held for me for 6 months if i was passing through!


    Scams are not limited to BKK. Flying into Port Harcourt there was a guy who would check your vaccination booklet and point out I’d not been vaccinated against smallpox! He had a syringe with him and said he’d give the vaccination now or pay $10 and I could pass through. I and a lot of others paid!!


    There may be BKK scams however the rule to Oz from any destination is no liquids over the 100ml (per item) in hand baggage. To be sure put shampoo,lotions, checked bags.
    You can take 2.25L in checked bags-and I frequently do- or buy on arrival and I think also on the’plane to Oz,since its obviously real alcohol if bought on the flight.
    Even LHR won’t sell you duty free bottles for Oz unless you convince them you can put into your checked baggage en route!


    Just to re-interate…this was NOT a scam. You are not able to take any liquid items over 100ML on any aircraft departing to Australia from any airport outside Australia. The same would have happened to the OP whether it had been HKG SIN or LAX. This is an Australian imposed regulation. Clear sealed plastic bag from airside Duty Free or not the ‘normal’ rules do not apply for flights to Australia.


    Travelling with duty free booze seems to become more and more complicated.
    The best advise is to leave booze at the duty free shop.

    The message from the OP looks to me more of a scam by the OZ government protecting their tax income and ailing QF.
    Drinking and smoking are apparently deemed to be bad for your health, but surely for your pocket. Especially when bought tax free. 😉


    Edskii – SO true. Or possibly to protect the interest of the one Duty Free chain that sells duty free on arrival in all the major ports. They must make a mint.

    Ironically, there are no liquid restrictions at ALL on Australian domestic routes. Yet they go OTT on the international front.

    I was peeved when flying HKG-SYD. I was aware of the 100ML rule and secondary check at the boarding gate. I puchased one of the little travel coffret set of fragrances as a gidt for a friend which was beautifully packaged (5 x different frgrances of 10ML each). The duty free staff insisted it would be fine to take on board as they were under 100ml each. What they didn’t tell me was at the secondary inspection i’d have to unseal all the packaging, remove each small fragrance and place it in a clear plastic bag.
    The presentation was kind of ruined.


    I though ‘Duty Free’ booze was largely a racket these days and it is almost always cheaper to buy on the high street?


    In many cases you are right SimonS1. In the UK you can get fairly cheep booze in high street retail stores. In many countries (including Australia) it’s quite expensive (and highly taxed) and DF definitely represents a good saving.

    Cigs are the same – in BKK for example it’s cheaper to go into 7-11 in town and buy 200 Malboros than at the airport Duty Free.


    @simons1 – yes booze purchased in airport outlets are better than the high street. Most bottles are slightly cheaper, but are 25% larger as airport shops in the main, sell 1 litre bottles as oppose to .75l in the UK shops.

    If travelling outside of Europe, then true duty free / tax free prices prevail and these are still even better value. Coming off the QM2 the other week I was able to buy 4 litres of a mixture of Bombay sapphire, Ballantine’s and couple of other brands for a total of $60…

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