Can I bring alcohol on a plane?
If you’re bringing home a souvenir bottle of liquor, make sure your alcohol is cleared for takeoff.
You’ve just purchased a case of wine from a small winery in the south of France and now comes the plane ride home. Can you pack it in a carry-on? Can you check the whole case? How will you make sure it survives the flight? Here are some need-to-know rules and tips when traveling with alcohol.
Am I allowed to bring alcohol on a flight?
The short answer is yes, and according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it’s all about the alcohol content. Alcohol less than 24 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) or 48 proof – your typical wine or beer – is subject to the 3-1-1 rule for carry-on. It must be contained to a 3.4-ounce bottle and fit comfortably in one quart-sized, clear, zip-top bag. Now, exactly how many mini liquor bottles fit in a quart-sized bag is up for question. For checked bags, there is no limit.
The same carry-on rules apply to alcohol between 24-70 percent ABV (48-140 proof); however, for checked bags, you are limited to five liters per passenger, and it must be in unopened retail packaging. Alcohol over 70 percent ABV or over 140 proof is considered a fire hazard and prohibited on planes.
The rules pertaining to alcohol purchased at the duty-free store after the security checkpoint are more lenient. Travelers are limited to five liters between 24-70 percent ABV or 48-140 proof. If you make a purchase overseas and have a connecting flight in the United States, the alcohol is allowed in your carry-on if it’s packed in a clear, secure, tamper-evident bag by the retailer and you have the original receipt showing the purchase was made within 48 hours.
Can I drink on the plane?
It is against federal regulation to open your own bottle of alcohol on a flight or to drink alcohol that was not directly served to you by a flight attendant. While most domestic airlines forbid BYOB, JetBlue allows passengers to consumer their own wine, champagne or beer on a flight if it’s opened and served to them by one of JetBlue’s inflight crewmembers.
And, if you decide to purchase that $20 glass of wine, watch your consumption. Flight attendants won’t serve passengers they deem to have had one too many. And, if you appear drunk before you even get on the plane, the airline can deny you boarding.
Can I bring alcohol home from international trips?
Generally, one liter of alcohol per person may enter the U.S. by travelers who are 21 or older, although travelers coming from the U.S. Virgin Islands or other Caribbean countries are entitled to more. State laws and regulations vary widely and may be more restrictive than federal regulations. If you’re worried about the amount of alcohol that can be brought into your state of residence, check with your Alcohol Beverage Control Board to find out each state’s policy.
How should I pack alcohol?
No one wants to end their vacation with a suitcase soaked with vodka. When packing alcohol in your checked bag, place the unopened bottled in a sealable plastic bag. Then wrap the bottle in towels, sweaters, pants and shirts. Position the bottle snuggly in the center of your suitcase and surround it with more clothes to ensure your bottle survives an accidental fall off the baggage carousel. Hard-shelled suitcases will offer even more protection.
If alcohol is your souvenir of choice, it might be worth investing in travel products like a wine check luggage bag to ensure your precious cargo arrives in one piece.