Liquids ban on planes means the end of an enjoyable perk

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Two separate factors have affected air travel in recent years and have also put paid to what was one of the more enjoyable perks of foreign holidays.

Today, ever more airlines charge for “checked-in” baggage. In some instances, it may cost more than your flight ticket. So people increasingly travel with cabin baggage only. However, the ban on liquids of 100cc or more in cabin baggage means that buying an interesting or bargain bottle of spirits abroad to take home is now strictly verboten…

To many, this is doubtless no great shakes but I’m one of these inveterate hunters of unusual bottles in dusty caves or bodegas, or even in foreign supermarkets. You never know what you might find that is unavailable in the UK, but these new circumstances mean you cannot bring it home. OK, in that case you can still drink it before your return flight but that rules out the joy of bringing it back and sharing it with friends.

The only drinks you can safely take on to a plane are those bought at the so-called “duty-free” shops at airports. However, in the EU that usually means paying the same price, or more, than in the off-licence or supermarket. And airport duty-frees largely tend to stock lines from the Diageos and Pernod Ricards of this world who have the clout and muscle to get good shelf space.

Also, to avoid direct comparison, certain expressions of single malts and other spirits are only available from duty-free shops, so there’s no direct comparison with lines sold on the high street. Bowmore, Glenmorangie and many others market airports-only variants and, as these tend to be sold in litre, rather than 70cl, bottles, comparing prices is tricky. Unless you’ve got the nanosecond maths brain of Rachel Riley on Countdown, how sure can you be that £42 a litre is a better or worse deal than £29 for 70cl?

I guess I shall just have to adapt to this strange new world, or travel by those airlines that still offer checked-in baggage in the ticket price. Or perhaps I should give up my near-lifelong habit of hunting for rare or unusual whiskies. However, as the saying goes, it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks…