Bristol Airport holidaymakers with canceled flights had to return duty free items due to HM Customs requirement

Duty-free is one of the best things about the airport. But in recent weeks, the problems have also affected the purchases that potential tourists have made.

Travelers faced last-minute flight cancellations, long lines, and security and check-in delays, which kept some passengers from traveling overseas. A little-known outcome for anyone who has a canceled flight and cannot leave the UK is that they must return any purchases they have made duty-free.

Passengers are not allowed to take duty-free goods out of the airport if they have not left the country. This rule is not new and Bristol Airport explained that the procedure is normal for anyone with a canceled flight as it is a requirement of HM Customs, BristolLive reports.

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A spokesperson for said: “Returning duty free is normal procedure for a canceled flight. Customers can purchase duty free (and benefit from reduced duty free prices) [but] this excess is only eligible for customers departing from the UK.

“When flights are cancelled, the customer does not leave the UK, so it is a customs requirement that all duty free purchases are returned and a full refund is provided. This is a requirement of the HM Customs.”

A passenger said having to return their items was ‘certainly salt in the wound’ after being told their flight from Bristol to Lisbon was canceled 10 minutes before boarding.

They said: “I think the whole room was in disbelief, and a chorus of laughter literally broke out when they made the duty-free announcement.”

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Christy J. Olson