Shopping in a suitcase: problems and risks


Many airlines allow passengers to carry food in normal household quantities in checked baggage without further ado. But in special cases this could become a problem. TRAVELBOOK shows why.

The journey is booked and many passengers want to carry their groceries on the flight in their checked bags. There are many reasons: some want to save money by carrying their groceries with them, because they cost more once they arrive at their destination. Others, on the other hand, carry groceries on the return flight, as groceries are cheaper in the holiday region, and still others like to take culinary delights with them as souvenirs or don’t want to do without their favorite food from home even on vacation. In principle, many airlines allow food to be transported in checked baggage without any problems. But what risks are you currently running and what should you pay attention to: TRAVELBOOK spoke to experts and offers an overview.

What groceries are allowed in the checked suitcase?

Many airlines allow passengers to carry groceries in checked baggage. However, the customs and regulations of the respective countries apply. Holidaymakers should therefore inform themselves before departure about the entry and exit rules.

In general, potatoes cannot be transported due to the risk of bacterial ring rot. There are also quantitative limits for edible mushrooms and sturgeon caviar. Also, a distinction is made based on whether food is eaten in the EU or turned off non-EU countries to introduce.

Importing food products into the EU

Camembert from Normandy? Luxury chocolate from Belgium? Serrano ham from Spain? Apart from the exceptions already mentioned, foods that Ibe transported within the EU in commercial quantities, without restrictions. Sausages, cheeses or other edible souvenirs can easily be transported from one EU country to another. At least insofar as the respective airline does not object (more on that later). But be careful: air travelers must always respect the maximum value for imports. It is 430 euros for adults and 175 euros for children and young people under 15 and includes all “souvenirs” such as food, clothing and technology.

Import of food products from outside the EU

Without special health certificates or accompanying documents the following applies: Most animal products, more precisely foods such as meat, milk, eggs and all products derived from them, cannot be imported into the EU from countries that are not members of the EU. This is to protect against transmissible animal diseases. But there are exceptions: foods with small amounts of milk or cream, such as biscuits or chocolate, are allowed. Even importing honey is not a problem, even though it is an animal product. The importation of fish is also permitted up to a total weight of 20 kilograms, only Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands have different maximum amounts.

The baggage rules of the airlines also apply

In addition to the import regulations, the baggage regulations of the respective airline always apply. For example, a Lufthansa spokesperson told TRAVELBOOK that groceries can be carried in checked baggage on Lufthansa flights, provided they are brought along in compliance with customs regulations. Under these conditions, food and drinks can also be carried in normal domestic quantities in checked baggage at Eurowings, a spokesperson explained.

Other airlines do not allow perishable goods in checked baggage. A spokesman for Dortmund Airport has reported TRAVELBOOK to Wizz Air, the airline transports perishable food on their list of objects that cannot be transported. The Dortmund airport spokesman explains: “This is logical, especially from a hygienic and sanitary point of view.” Perishable foods are also banned on Tuifly flights, an airline spokesman said.

Also interesting: what is allowed in hand luggage and what is not?

That’s why your suitcase could be disposed of at the airport

But while carrying groceries is allowed by many airlines and customs regulations, you should carefully consider whether you actually do so. Because if the food in the suitcase starts to rot, the luggage becomes a security risk for hygienic and sanitary reasons. It can then be destroyed at the airport, with or without the owner’s consent.

Basically the procedure varies from airport to airport. A spokesman for Dortmund Airport, for example, told TRAVELBOOK: “If there is spoiled food in ‘stranded’ baggage, airport employees on the spot are authorized to open the bag and dispose of the spoiled food ( four eyes principle).” The baggage is then closed again and stored according to the statutory retention period. According to the spokeswoman, luggage is not destroyed here.

However, a spokesperson for Dusseldorf Airport adds to TRAVELBOOK that, in the case of suitcases that remain at the airport longer than usual after the food has been taken away, a “partial or complete disposal” is also possible after agreement with the owner. This is also a practice at Berlin airport BER, according to a spokesman. If the owners no longer wish to take the suitcase back, “the baggage tracking service can dispose of the bag after approval by the airline and customs.”

Destruction for “hygienic reasons”

But the suitcase is not always disposed of only after consulting the owner. In the worst case, non-consensual destruction of the suitcase can occur. This shows a Judgment of the Frankfurt district court. In the briefcase, a passenger had stored olives, salami and several bottles of wine in the suitcase. When the bags were lost and left in the “Lost Baggage Room”, the suitcase was leaking liquid from the broken bottles. It also smelled “very bad” from the sausages. As a result, the airport authorities destroyed the lost baggage for hygienic reasons without prior agreement.

The owner’s claim for damages in the amount of 1260 euros was rejected by the district court of Frankfurt am Main. Even if this is an absolutely isolated case, one thing is clear: in case of doubt, it is possible to destroy one’s suitcase even without consent.

Another interesting thing: in many holiday countries, groceries are significantly more expensive

So, if you want to play it safe and don’t want to risk a rotten or destroyed suitcase, it’s best not to pack perishable foods in your luggage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *