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Can You Bring Alcohol on an Airplane? [Helpful Tips To Avoid Issues & Fines]

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Katie Seemann
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Katie Seemann

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Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, F...
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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 for sale on American Airlines
If you want an alcoholic drink during your flight, you’ll need to order it onboard. Image Credit: American Airlines

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.

Carry-on bag rules for alcohol
Alcohol is allowed in your carry-on bags, but it must follow the TSA rules for liquids and be in containers of 3.4 ounces or less. Image Credit: TSA

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).

Final Thoughts

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you bring mini alcohol bottles on a plane?

Yes, you can bring mini alcohol bottles on a plane as long as you follow the TSA’s rules for carrying liquids on planes. That means the bottles need to be 3.4 ounces or less and packed in a quart-sized clear plastic bag. However, you aren’t allowed to consume the alcohol you brought while on the airplane.

Can you bring alcohol in a checked bag if you're under 21?

No, anyone under the age of 21 is not allowed to pack alcohol in their checked bags.

Can I bring beer or wine on a plane in my checked baggage?

Yes, alcohol that’s less than 24% ABV (48 proof), including most beer and wine, is allowed in unlimited quantities in your checked luggage.

How much alcohol can you take home on an international flight?

If you’re flying back to the U.S. on an international flight, you’re allowed to bring alcohol back with you. In your carry-on bag, you’re limited to bottles that are 3.4 ounces or less and they must be packed in a quart-sized clear plastic bag. For alcohol that’s under 24% ABV, you can pack as much as you want in your checked luggage. If you’re carrying alcohol that has an ABV of 24% to 70%, there’s a limit of 5 liters per passenger. Any alcohol that’s over 70% ABV is not allowed in your carry-on or checked luggage in any quantities.

What is the 311 rule?

The 3-1-1 rule from the TSA states that passengers can bring liquids, aerosols, or gels (including alcohol) in their carry-on luggage in quantities of 3.4 ounces or less, packed in 1 quart-sized plastic bag.

Can you bring rubbing alcohol on a plane?

Yes, you can bring rubbing alcohol on an airplane. If you’re bringing it in your carry-on bag, it must be in quantities of 3.4 ounces or less and placed in a clear, quart-sized plastic bag. If it’s in your checked bags, it needs to be in containers that are 18 ounces or less and the total amount packed can’t exceed 70 ounces.

Can you bring alcohol wipes on a plane?

Yes, you can bring alcohol wipes on a plane in any quantity in both your carry-on and checked luggage.

Can you bring alcohol back from Mexico on a plane?

Yes, can bring alcohol back from Mexico on an airplane. In your carry-on bag, you’re limited to bottles that are 3.4 ounces or less and they must be packed in a quart-sized clear plastic bag. In your checked baggage, alcohol that’s under 24% ABV is allowed in any quantity. Alcohol that has an ABV of 24% to 70% is limited to 5 liters per passenger. You can’t travel on an airplane with alcohol that’s over 70% ABV.

What happens if you get caught drinking alcohol on a plane?

If you get caught drinking your own alcohol on a plane you’ll most likely just be asked to stop. However, the FAA can fine passengers for doing so, especially if the alcohol consumption is paired with unruly behavior.

Can you pack alcohol in checked baggage on American Airlines?

Yes, the policies mentioned in this article for carrying alcohol in your checked baggage apply to all U.S. airlines, including but not limited to:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines
  • United Airlines

The policy states that you can pack alcohol that’s under 24% ABV in your checked baggage in any quantity. Alcohol that has an ABV of 24% to 70% is limited to 5 liters per passenger.

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About Katie Seemann

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, Forbes Advisor, and Fortune Recommends.

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