Ask LH: Can I Carry Duty-Free Liquids Through This Airport?

Dear Lifehacker, On an upcoming trip, I will be transiting in Kuala Lumpur International Airport. If I purchase duty free products such as perfume or makeup, will there be an issue taking this on board to my next destination in Japan in my carry-on? Also, do you have any suggestions on how to pass the time in transit? Thanks, Sensible Shopper

Picture: zulrosle

Dear SS,

It’s always sensible to be cautious when purchasing duty-free products in transit. Some airports require you to be re-screened as part of the boarding process, and impose the same limits on liquid sizes (typically only allowing containers of under 100ml) for people in transit as for people beginning their trip at that airport. In the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore is the most prominent example of this policy.

Kuala Lumpur uses a variant of this approach. It does impose liquid restrictions on hand luggage, and those restrictions apply to passengers in transit as well. However, if you make a purchase from a duty-free store within the airport, you’re allowed to take that on board even if it goes outside the specified sizes — the store that sells it to you will place it in a secure bag and tag it, which will make it clear that it fits within the rules.

What this means is that you can potentially make purchases at Kuala Lumpur, but it doesn’t make sense to buy anything 100mls or more at the airport on departing Australia and taking it with you — those purchases will end up being confiscated. Duty-free purchases in Australia can be left behind for pick-up when you land, so if you are tempted by a special on alcohol or large quantities of make-up, that would be the best choice.

My own advice is to restrict duty-free purchases to the journey home, so you’re not carrying them around through both legs of the trip. Alternatively, you can stash purchases from the outward trip in your checked luggage for the return, but with liquids, you’ll want to ensure they’re well-cushioned.

For passing the time, you don’t have to spend all your time in the shops and restaurants. The airport offers free Wi-Fi with a three-hour limit. I’m a big advocate of walking around the terminal; you’re spending most of your day sitting on a plane, so stretching your legs is vital. If you want to sit down and read, a Kindle or other ebook reader provides a portable option with long-lasting power. We’d love to hear additional suggestions from readers in the comments. Enjoy the trip!


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