Can you bring alcohol on a plane?
Alcohol can only be brought on a plane in sealed mini bottles that fit inside your allotted quart size bag. Alternatively, alcohol can be brought if purchased at duty-free shops. Consuming your own alcohol on a plane, however, is never allowed.
As a former flight attendant, this was one of my most common questions at work. Even experienced flyers struggle with the rules and regulations around flying with alcohol, and this article will give you clear answers to the most commonly asked questions.
Table of Contents
- Can You Bring Alcohol on a Plane?
- Can I Buy Alcohol in a Duty-Free Shop at the Airport and Bring it on the Plane?
- Can You Drink Your Mini-Bottles on the Plane?
- Can You Check Alcohol in a Bag?
- Tips for Packing Alcohol in Your Checked Luggage
- FAQs About Bringing and Drinking Alcohol on Planes
Can You Bring Alcohol on a Plane?
You can bring your own alcohol on a plane as long as they are in sealed mini bottles and fit inside your quart-sized bag liquid allowance through the security checkpoint. The other option is you buy it at the duty-free shops on the secure side of the airport. You are never allowed to drink your own alcohol during a flight.
The article will include information about buying duty-free at the airport, what rules security will enforce, and what rules you can expect the flight attendant to enforce in the air.
I will also give you some context as to why some of these rules exist, since I have found it is always easier to follow directions when you know the logic behind them.
Can I Buy Alcohol in a Duty-Free Shop at the Airport and Bring it on the Plane?
You can always bring duty-free alcohol from the shops at the airport onto the plane. They will usually seal it in a clear bag if you fly internationally. Make sure you keep all duty-free alcohol in the unopened retail packaging. The shop will ask for your boarding pass to check your final destination and transfers.
If you have a connecting flight, most airports will require you to put your duty-free in your checked baggage at the transit point as they will not allow duty-free through their security checkpoints.
There are also quantity limits on most international destinations, which will be less of a concern if you only take domestic flights. The attendants and the duty-free store should be able to inform you of your limits but make sure you ask to double-check.
Can You Drink Your Mini-Bottles on the Plane?
You cannot consume your own mini bottles on a plane. FAA regulations prohibit passengers from drinking their own alcohol during a flight. Alcohol consumption is very regulated, and flight attendants have a lot of rules they need to enforce around it. Most people assume these rules are to prevent drunkenness inflight because of safety concerns.
This is true, but it is only part of the reason. Another big reason is alcohol impacts people differently in a pressurized cabin. One drink on the ground is worth two in the air, so people don’t necessarily understand their limits at altitude.
Rather than becoming drunk and disorderly, most people get very sick. If you want to have a couple of drinks during your flight, do three things; make sure you have a good meal before boarding, drink plenty of water and cut your standard limit in half.
For more information about the liquids and gels rule check out my article on What I can carry in my purse on a plane?
Can You Check Alcohol in a Bag?
The best way to travel with your own alcohol is to put it in your checked luggage. It is permitted to travel with homemade beer and wine in sealed containers, and the alcohol content is 70% or less (140 proof).
Also, the US carry-off limit is up to five liters per person. If you are flying internationally, the limits are generally higher.
Tips for Packing Alcohol in Your Checked Luggage
Invest in Proper Packing Materials
The best way to ensure your alcohol arrives safely at your destination is to buy really good packing material. Something leakproof and ideally with lots of air, my favorite wine bags are literally inflatable. My recommendation is linked below.
When packing alcohol in your checked bags you need to prevent 2 things; breaking and leaking in case they do break. These packing bags inflate to protect your glass bottles and prevent your alcoholic beverage from leaking all over your clothes. It's the easiest way to pack alcohol or anything in glass bottles.
Ask for a Fragile Sticker to Be Placed on Your Suitcase
You can ask for a fragile sticker at the airport’s check-in counter, which ensures baggage handlers will handle your suitcase with a bit more care. If you are packing a couple of bottles, you will likely get a heavy sticker.
The more warning stickers you can get on your suitcase, the better. Do not try a do-it-yourself sticker, though. The airline and baggage handlers will only recognize the official stickers and sometimes require you to remove any non-official fragile or heavy stickers.
Pack Your Fragile Items in the Middle of Your Suitcase
To protect your precious cargo, line your suitcase with shoes and thicker clothes like jeans and sweaters and put the bottles in the middle. This way, when the luggage is thrown around on the conveyor belts, something absorbs the shock outside the suitcase. This is a good tip when you are packing anything fragile.
Check the Weight of Your Suitcase Before You Leave for the Airport
Having one of these in your travel kit is such a game changer. It takes so much guesswork out of packing and I find it particularly useful when packing to go home and trying to fit my travel purchases in my checked bag.
Wine and spirits are heavy, so check the weight of your bag before heading to the airport. Knowing the weight limitations of your airline will help save you from paying overweight fees at the airport.
I always pack the travel luggage scale like the one linked above to ensure I can weigh the suitcase on the way home.
For more, check out our guide on how to check your baggage at the airport.
FAQs About Bringing and Drinking Alcohol on Planes
Can You Bring Alcohol on a Plane Checked?
You can bring alcohol in your checked bag as long as it doesn’t have an alcohol content of more than 70% and is in a sealed container. Make sure you are following the carry-off limits. The US, the limit is 5L of anything more than 24% alcohol. Examples include fortified or sparkling wine, but most beers would not be subject to this limitation. International destinations generally have higher limits than the US but check the rules for your layover and final destination.
What happens if You Bring Alcohol on a Plane?
You should have no issue bringing alcohol on a plane in sealed mini bottles as long as they fit into your single quart-sized bag. The other option is buying full-sized bottles at the duty-free stores past security. Make sure what you bring fits comfortably in your carry-on bag, and remember you are not allowed to open or consume any of your own alcohol during the flight.
What is the Drinking Age on International Flights?
The legal drinking age on most flights is determined by the country where the airline is registered. American-based airlines will enforce the 21-year-old drinking age when serving alcoholic beverages, even if you are landing in a country like France, where the drinking age is much younger. The same is true in reverse. Once an Air France flight takes off, they will apply the french drinking age of 16 when serving beer and wine, with the stronger stuff like liquor only being served to ages 18 and up.
Now you know longer need to wonder “Can I bring alcohol on a plane?” or even “Can I drink alcohol on a plane?”
You can bring alcohol on a plane, but you cannot drink it unless it is served by a flight attendant. As always, everything is subject to the all powerful liquids and gels rules when going through security.
Check out this article for more details on what food you can and cannot bring on a plane?