Many travelers enjoy unwinding on their flight with a glass of wine, a cold beer, or just a strong mixed drink. Most airlines are happy to sell you an alcoholic drink during a flight and they may even come complimentary on certain itineraries or in certain seats. However, if you’re one of the passengers who aren’t privy to a free alcoholic drink, you may be wondering whether or not you can bring your own alcohol on an airplane. It’s a common question and the short answer is yes, but it’s not that simple.
In this post, we’ll give you a clear answer as to whether or not you can bring alcohol on an airplane and we’ll go over all of the guidelines and limitations related to flying with alcohol.
Can You Bring Alcohol on an Airplane?
Generally, you can bring alcohol on a plane, but there are limitations you need to know. The most important part of the equation, though, is that you can’t drink that alcohol on the plane.
FAA regulations prohibit passengers from consuming alcohol on an airplane that isn’t served by the airline. In short, that means, you can bring alcohol on the plane, but you can’t drink it on the plane.
While you may think that means you can ask your flight attendants to serve you the alcohol you provide, it doesn’t. While that practice has happened in years past, flight attendants these days will not serve alcohol to you that you brought on the plane.
JetBlue, for example, previously allowed flight attendants to serve passengers the alcohol that they brought on board but has since updated its policy online clearly stating, “You are not allowed to consume your own alcohol while on board.” Southwest Airlines is also taking the policy seriously; it has even added a mention to the announcements made at the beginning of each flight.
Alcohol in Your Carry-on Bag
Bringing alcohol in your carry-on bags is allowed, but you’ll still need to follow the TSA’s rules for carrying liquids on planes. That means the alcohol needs to be in containers of 3.4 ounces or less and packed in a quart-sized clear plastic bag. Each passenger is only allowed 1 plastic bag.
Any alcohol with an ABV over 70% or 140 proof is prohibited on airplanes in both checked or carry-on baggage.
Duty-free Purchases of Alcohol
You might be wondering about duty-free purchases of alcohol, since those end up being carried on board and are over 3.4 ounces. You can purchase alcohol at an airport duty-free shop with some limitations.
- There’s a limit of 5 liters of 24% to 70% ABV (48 to 140 proof) alcohol per person
- The bottles must be packed in a transparent and secure clear plastic bag by the retailer
- You need to keep your receipt handy as you may need to prove the duty-free alcohol was purchased in the previous 48 hours
Bottom Line: You can bring alcohol (with an ABV of 70% or lower) on an airplane in your carry-on bag if it’s in containers of 3.4 ounces or less or in secure, sealed bags purchased from a duty-free shop. However, you can’t consume any of the alcohol you carried on while you’re on the airplane.
Can You Pack Alcohol in Your Checked Luggage?
The rules for packing alcohol in your checked luggage are a bit different than the rules for bringing alcohol in your carry-on.
The amount of alcohol you can pack in your luggage is determined by the ABV or alcohol by volume content, a number that shows the percentage of the drink that is alcohol.
Beverages that are less than 24% ABV (under 48 proof), which includes most beers and wines, are allowed in unlimited quantities in your checked luggage. Of course, the more you pack, the more your baggage fees might be, so keep that in mind before you start packing cases of wine in your luggage!
For beverages with an ABV of 24% to 70% (48 to 140 proof), there’s a limit of 5 liters (1.3 gallons) per passenger in checked baggage. The alcohol needs to be in unopened retail packaging.
Alcohol over 70% ABV, or over 140 proof, is not allowed in your checked baggage.
How To Pack Alcohol in Your Checked Baggage
When you’re packing alcohol in your checked luggage, you’ll want to make sure it’s wrapped well, so it’s protected. A hard side suitcase is important in this instance since it will help protect your alcohol bottles from being crushed.
Next, you’ll want to wrap your bottles in a protective layer — this can be just your clothes or a specially designed case. You can buy inexpensive bubble wrap bags for wine bottles online. While these bags are designed for wine, they can also be used for spirits and even things like olive oil.
If you’re a serious wine collector or are returning from a trip to Napa Valley, you can even find suitcases designed specifically to transport wine bottles.
If you find yourself packing alcohol in your checked bags and you don’t have any special bag or bubble wrap handy, just be sure to wrap each bottle with your clothes. You can slide bottles into sleeves or pant legs and then pack those wrapped bottles in the middle of your suitcase, between more layers of clothing so they are as insulated as possible.
If you’re packing mini bottles of alcohol, you can put those inside shoes to give them some protection. If you are traveling with beer bottles or something similarly sized, slide each into a sock for protection.
Don’t forget that the alcohol you pack in your checked luggage should be unopened and still in the original packaging.
Bottom Line: You can pack alcohol in your checked luggage as long as it’s unopened and in the original container. Alcohol that’s less than 24% ABV (under 48 proof) is allowed in unlimited quantities. There’s a limit of 5 liters (1.3 gallons) per passenger for alcohol that has an ABV of 24% to 70% (48 to 140 proof).
Many passengers are curious as to whether or not they can bring their own alcohol on an airplane. Generally, you can bring alcohol on planes in both your carry-on and checked bags, but you aren’t allowed to consume that alcohol on the plane. The FAA has made it clear that any alcohol consumed on an airplane needs to be served by the airline carrier and its flight attendants.
Featured Image Credit:
Michelle Bryant via Pixabay