A woman had her expensive cosmetics binned in front of her at the airport without an explanation - despite the goods being under the 100ml carry-on limit.

Marcela Gibson says she wasn't given the chance to transfer the liquids - worth about $500 - from their larger containers into smaller ones she had on her.

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The 34-year-old accountant from Grey Lynn was about to board a flight at Auckland Airport to Melbourne earlier this month when she was stopped and asked if a staff member could take a look in her bag.


"I told her that she is welcome to take a look and I was confident I did not have anything to breach the policies."

Ms Gibson was carrying a cosmetic bag containing a number of items which were in bottles bigger than 100ml, but the bottles weren't full.

She was told by a woman at immigration control that her La Mer the Concentrate, Antipodes body cream and Antipodes cleanser were over the carry-on limit and the items were thrown in the rubbish bin in front of her.

Mrs Gibson said she had brought 100ml containers for the cosmetics as a back-up in case she had to transfer them, but was not given that option.

"I was trying to explain to her that the tubes were only full to pass the limit, but she was not listening."

Ms Gibson said she travelled abroad frequently but had never had issues with the products at other airports. Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Mike Eng said passengers weren't allowed to transfer liquids or gels to smaller containers as this could enable people to mix or distil liquids which "introduces new security risks".

He had seen the CCTV footage of the incident and said the staff member had acted appropriately.

He said information outlining the quantity of liquids allowed on an aircraft was available online, at ticket kiosks and was displayed at the airport.

"Given Ms Gibson's response, it is evident she was unclear of the requirement after our officer explained the rules to her," he said.

What happens to the items?
*Relinquished goods at airports are taken by airport staff and kept in secure containers under CCTV footage.
*They are later destroyed by the airport company.
*About 290,000 items are relinquished by 5 million international passengers each year from all of New Zealand's international airports.