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Strict Mumbai Airport Controls - even in transit

Cape Town Central...
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Strict Mumbai Airport Controls - even in transit

Just a heads up while traveling to India.

While most international airports adhere to a common understanding that once you have passed customs control and have entered the transit duty free area, all items purchased in duty free get sealed in a specific bag with the purchase slip as proof and are then allowed to be taken with you through security checks at any transit airports you may be passing through. (provided you remain in transit)

However, NOT Mumbai airport.

No matter if you are just changing airlines and heading off to your final destination, security at this airport will not allow you to re-board your on-going flight with any items that do not meet the standard security criteria. So that bottle of expensive cologne that exceeds 100ml or the bottle of Gin you bought at duty free just before you first took off; you will need to destroy them all before they will let you continue to your destination country regardless of the proof you have of the duty free sealed bag and the purchase slip, there is just no reasoning. But they are quick to note that you may proceed through to their duty free and buy the very same items, and take them with you.

Although this defies common logic, I know, this is just the way it is, and I wish I had come across a post like this before my trip as it would have saved me some cash.

Happy travels.

Mumbai (Bombay...
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for Mumbai (Bombay), New Delhi, Kochi (Cochin), Chennai (Madras), India
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1. Re: Strict Mumbai Airport Controls - even in transit

Just trying to understand what you're saying:

You were transiting through Mumbai international airport.

You purchased some things not in Mumbai duty free, but at some other country's airport.

Mumbai airport did not allow you to carry those things through.

Is that it?

Cape Town Central...
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2. Re: Strict Mumbai Airport Controls - even in transit


Yes that is correct.

We were on route from Johannesburg to Colombo (Sri Lanka). Had a stop (to change airlines) at Mumbai. The transit time between flight in and flight out was 1 hour.

After disembarking from the first flight we were directed to the usual security point (still within transit area) which leads through to duty free and then boarding - as is the case with all international airports.

At this security point we were told that we are not allowed to proceed with these items. Even though they were in the clear, red framed plastic duty free bags which include the sealed pocket where the purchase slip is. The same bags that all duty free shops around the globe package your purchases in.

No amount of explaining that they were duty free purchases - clearly - and that we were also only just in transit from one airline to another would change their minds.

We had to destroy all our purchases right there in the bin provided or leave them on one of the counters to the side. All this while being able to see just over a wall into the duty free area just ahead and being able to look right at some of the items we had with us, also for sale right there.

Upon enquiring what the difference is in destroying those we had only to be able to buy the same thing meters away, we were met with abrupt and arrogant gestures and looks.

Many other people were in the same situation and they too had to leave their purchases behind. Multiple bottles of quality alcohol and liqueurs, perfumes, cosmetic products - you name it - all had to be left.

We had to concede and rush to our onward flight vowing never to return.

We changed our return flights for this trip to go via Hong Kong which was an amazing experience - even in transit - and most definitely have no inclination to ever set foot in India again unfortunately.


Warsaw, Poland
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3. Re: Strict Mumbai Airport Controls - even in transit

That's just outrageous! I've been to India too and I can also say, that their "security" rules are completely absurd.

Cape Town Central...
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4. Re: Strict Mumbai Airport Controls - even in transit

Completely Unexpected Happy Ending

As a completely unexpected and impressive turn of events, this whole debacle has a happy ending.

Soon after we arrived back from our holiday my wife emailed Big 5 the company in South Africa that manages the duty free retail at all South African airports as she wanted to pose the question;

“If while shopping in duty free you have to show your boarding pass to make a purchase, and if this passes clearly showed we were heading for Mumbai which is known for this kind of irrational behaviour to in-transit passengers; then why are passengers heading there not informed that they should rather not make the purchase as the whole lot most likely will be taken away or discarded of when you get there.”

So indeed – why no prevent the horrible experience in the first place? Have an information pamphlet informing which destinations have in the past been over security conscious around duty free purchases.

It wasn’t long before a representative from Big 5 contacted my wife and an amazing thing happened.

Bearing in mind we no longer had our purchase slip as it had been sealed in the bag we had to leave in Mumbai, Big 5 were completely understanding and went totally beyond expectations by using our flight details to viewing the CCTV footage of our purchases to confirm totals – and PAID US BACK IN FULL for all that was trashed in Mumbai.

I have to say I never saw that coming, and can only say that I now hold them in the highest respect.

THANK YOU Big 5 Duty Free


Destination Expert
for Mumbai (Bombay), India
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5. Re: Strict Mumbai Airport Controls - even in transit

Does that mean we can still hope to see you in India?;-)

Geneva, Switzerland
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6. Re: Strict Mumbai Airport Controls - even in transit

We recently transitted Mumbai on flight from Munich to Colombo and they did not confiscate our duty free whiskey. So perhaps the policy is changed?

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7. Re: Strict Mumbai Airport Controls - even in transit

Thanks that's good info to know 😊

8. Re: Strict Mumbai Airport Controls - even in transit

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