Travel question of the day: Simon Calder on carrying alcohol in hold luggage

Have a travel question that needs answering? Ask our expert Simon Calder

Simon Calder
Tuesday 24 May 2016 10:16 BST
Alcohol is not considered a security risk when carried in your hold luggage
Alcohol is not considered a security risk when carried in your hold luggage (Shutterstock)

Q On a recent flight I packed two one-litre bottles of whisky in my luggage which went in the hold. These were purchased in the departure city, not in duty free. In light of recent events, isn’t that a security risk? There are strict limits about liquids being taken into the cabin because they are regarded as a threat - considerably less than two litres.

Chris Brown

A First, can I remind you about how the rules on liquids in cabin baggage came into being? Until 10 August 2006, there were no restrictions on the amount that could be brought on board. But on that day, the UK government revealed details of what it said was a plan to destroy seven transatlantic passenger flights from Heathrow. The plan was said to involve bombers taking chemical preparations into them and assembling them into explosive devices while on board.

As a result, the current liquids rules were brought into effect: a limit of 100ml on any container, with all liquids carried in a clear plastic bag. This applies to all “liquids, aerosols and gels” - or LAGs, as they are known in the aviation security business - that are not bought airside, i.e. after the security check. The rule is designed to thwart terrorists taking enough material on board to construct a viable bomb.

Hold baggage is a different issue, because there is no way for a passenger to access their luggage during the flight. Therefore airlines and authorities take a more relaxed view of what passengers can pack in their hold baggage. Some items are explicitly banned because of the fire risk they pose - for example, in its comprehensive online guide (, British Airways prohibits paint, fireworks, hover boards and e-cigarettes from hold baggage. But whisky and most other liquids are permitted. All hold luggage is screened on flights from UK airports, and anything that shows up as volatile will be investigated further.

Meanwhile, of course, whisky and many other drinks are available airside at airports, with the only quantity restriction being the customs limit at your destination.

Every day, our travel correspondent Simon Calder tackles a reader’s question. Just email yours to or tweet @simoncalder

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