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EU Relaxes Liquid Ban While Russia Clamps Down

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On the heels of a long-awaited decision to loosen liquid restrictions, which went into effect only one week ago, new constrictions are already in place.

Today, the Department of Homeland Security directed that no liquids, gels, aerosols, or powders of any kind be permitted on nonstop flights between the United States and the Russian Federation. Delta is the only domestic carrier to which this applies, although international lines such as Russia’s Aeroflot and TransAero are also affected.

Early last month, Russia banned all liquids from carry-on luggage on all flights entering its two international Moscow airports. The stringent restriction is just a small part of the security operation surrounding the 2014 Winter Games, and was announced just weeks before the EU and the US loosened their liquid policies.

It has been nearly eight years since the Department of Homeland Security and the European Union banned all liquids and gels larger than 3.4 ounces from carry-ons, following the 2006 terrorist plot targeting London-Heathrow Airport.

While the act was deemed “temporary,” it is only in the New Year that the first small steps are being made to reverse the prohibition, starting with duty-free bottles purchased at airports or on airplanes. 

International travelers may now carry-on liquids exceeding 3.4 ounces, as long as they were purchased in a duty-free shop and secured in tamper-evident bags. This permission applies to passengers traveling through airports within the EU’s 28 countries, and US-bound fliers making connecting flights.

TSA Press Secretary Ross Feinstein stated “both seen and unseen security measures [are being taken] to ensure the highest possible level of security” during the transition process.

Both the US and the EU are working together toward a shared “long-term goal [to] allow the relaxation of limitations on liquids, aerosols, and gels in carry-on bags,” Feinstein commented earlier.

Unlike the 2006 liquid and gel ban, Russia’s severe policy is set to expire on March 21, and the DHS may revert their most recent embargo even sooner.

If the EU and the US find their gradual solution for reintroducing liquids to carry-on luggage successful, the EU hopes to lift all liquid bans by January 2016. The US is likely to follow suit. Until then, all other liquids must remain travel-sized, and those traveling to Sochi will be inconvenienced by a ban of everything from eye drops to medication.

Melanie Lieberman is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: photocay / Alamy

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