Airline Restrictions Affect Travel to U.S.

August 18, 2006

After British authorities last week uncovered an alleged plot to blow up several transatlantic flights headed from London to the United States using liquid bombs, restrictions on carry-on items are affecting travelers and airport businesses worldwide.

In Costa Rica, only travelers departing to the United States are affected, according to Fernando Lara, corporate affairs manager for Alterra Partners, which manages the country’s main airport, JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport.

On Aug. 10, the day the alleged terrorist plot was uncovered in London, the Transportation Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ordered Alterra to prevent passengers traveling to the United States from carrying liquids onto the airplane.

Forbidden items include beverages and gels, including shampoo, suntan lotion, toothpaste, hair gels and items of similar consistency, according to the official notice received by Alterra. These items can be transported only as checked luggage.

Exceptions to the rule are baby formula, breast milk, and juice for babies and young children. Prescription medicines are allowed if the name on the prescription matches the name on the ticket. Also allowed are non-prescription medication considered “essential,” such as insulin, according to Alterra.

Four days after the restrictions went into effect, sales at the duty-free stores at Juan Santamaría, which sell a variety of alcoholic beverages, dropped between ¢75-80 million (approximately $147,000-157,000), the daily La Nación reported this week.

Sales at five stores run by the Mixed Institute for Social Aid (IMAS) decreased by ¢18-22 million ($35,300-43,100). Profits from the IMAS stores go toward assistance programs to cover basic needs such as food and rent for families living in extreme poverty.

Lara said the new restrictions will remain until further notice.

He recommends passengers arrive at the airport three hours before boarding time, because airlines are checking carry-on items at their airport counters.

Lara said travelers with questions should contact their airline before traveling.

 

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