It’s a question that everyone in the world has had at least once (for us, every time we fly). Can you bring wine on a plane?
Yes. You absolutely can. And better yet, it’s legal! You can pack alcohol in your carry on bag as long as you’re over legal drinking age, and the alcohol is less than 70% ABV or 140 proof, under 3.4 ounces, and fits into that quart-sized bag.
And, of course, you can bring wine in your checked luggage. We provide some tips below how to pack wine safely. Just be mindful of customs and your luggage’s weight restrictions (just one more reason to use a travel capsule wardrobe), and you too can fly with wine.
That bottle of red you bought on the Amalfi Coast and will use to boast about your trip at your next dinner party can’t be left behind on your travels! Wine neglect is frowned upon, after all.
Can I Bring Wine in My Carry On?
You can’t carry on any liquid that’s more than 3.4 ounces or 100 ml, which means you can’t carry on a full, 750 ml bottle of wine that you bought at that adorable wine shop. You know the one. It’s located right next to DSW. Ok, ok, it’s Total Wine. But isn’t it the cutest?
If your next stop is another country, you can buy your booze after security at a duty-free shop. Duty-free may sound like a joke you laughed at when you were 12, but it actually means you don’t have to pay certain taxes or duties on what they sell.
Duty-free goods must be kept in a transparent, untampered bag in order to avoid import taxes. So if you’re hoping to sneak a sip from your new purchase… you’ll have to wait. Your drinks need to stay sealed until you touch down in Londontown.
(Or Cleveland. Same thing.)
And if you’re bringing wine into a country, know the laws of that country. There are some countries that ban alcohol, such as Saudi Arabia, the Maldives, and Pakistan.
Can I Drink the Wine During the Flight?
While you can carry on a bottle of wine from duty-free or alcohol as long as it’s less than 70% ABV, under 3.4 ounces, and fits into your quart-sized toiletries bag… you can’t drink it.
Unfortunately, according to the FAA, you’re only allowed to consume alcohol on a flight that’s been served to you by a “certificate holder.” That usually means flight attendants. But, if you’re flying Virgin Atlantic it could mean your inflight bartender.
This means that when the captain says you can get up and move about the cabin, you can’t quite get up and make yourself an old fashioned with one of these carry-on kits or pour yourself a glass of red. If you’re looking for an in-flight buzz, your most legal option is to pay for it on board. It’s ok, they totally don’t overcharge for it or anything.
How Much Wine Can I Pack In My Checked Baggage?
According to the TSA, as long as your bottles are under 24% alcohol content, there are no restrictions on how many you pack into your checked luggage, other than that pesky weight limit.
(While it may be tempting to pack an entire hardside luggage bag to the spilling point with wine, baggage handlers aren’t always the most careful, so if you’re dead set on that, you’ll want a wine suitcase instead.)
But, if the alcohol percentage of your bottles is between 24 and 70 percent, then the maximum allowance is five litres, which usually works out to five bottles. Which just happens to be the number of bottles you’d need to try all five types of tequila.
As for the duty-free allowance? That differs by country, so if you’re looking to avoid an extra fee, plan ahead.
How Do I Prevent the Wine From Breaking Mid-Flight?
The hardest part about flying with wine isn’t getting the alcohol onto the flight. It’s making sure that the bottle can make it through the whole thing unscathed.
While a bottle of wine won’t have to deal with the usual in-flight issues (crying babies, over-recliners, people who take off their shoes), that glass exterior certainly doesn’t make for an easy ride in the cargo hold.
So take a cue from a few geniuses in the world who have thought of this problem before you. The solution to flying with wine? Wine suitcases. Wine suitcases are a must-have for the dedicated wine lover. They’re designed to hold around twelve bottles and are under the 50lb weight limit for checked baggage.
If you actually need to pack some clothes with your wine, there are also wine bottle travel protectors, like the Wineskin. It’ll provide a nice cushion around your wine and defend against bumps.
And if you have low standards and are right up against the weight limit, there’s always the bootleg option of wrapping wine bottles with clothing. Not exactly foolproof, but it will do in a pinch.
Is There Any Alcohol I Can’t Bring on the Plane?
It would be hard to find wine with a high enough alcohol content to be barred from a flight. However, alcohol that is over 140 proof or higher than a 70 percent alcohol content cannot be packed, even in checked baggage.
This means that that Bulgarian vodka, whose tasting notes include gasoline and burning, won’t make the cut. Probably for the best.
Additionally, international countries’ customs and border control rules vary. Don’t forget to check the laws of your destination country before departing, such as drinking age and public consumption laws.
What If I Want to Bring Back More Alcohol Than Customs Allows?
Remember when we said there was no limit for alcohol that’s under 24 percent? That may be true… but US Customs tends to flag people carrying more than a case of wine (12 bottles).
If you’ve decided that your trip to Paris is the time to lay the foundation for a wine cellar that includes more than Two Buck Chuck, and you simply have to bring back more than 12 bottles of wine, there’s a way.
1. Ship the Wine Bottles
While USPS does not allow the shipping of wine, UPS and FedEx do. All shipped alcohol must be properly packaged and labeled to ensure a safe passage.
2. Ask Your Travel Buddy
Another option is having a willing co-conspirator in your smuggling. If you can convince a friend to share some space in their own checked baggage, then your booze bounty can double. Otherwise, you’ll probably just want to book another trip to Paris.
Can I Bring Those Little Minibar Bottles on the Plane?
Yes, you can bring them on board, since minibar bottles are 50ml (or 1.7 oz) and conveniently fit right between your travel book and your toothbrush. But again… it’s not technically legal to drink alcohol on a flight that you brought yourself.
To stay within the law, grab one of those TSA-approved cocktail kits, like the one produced by W&P.
Their kits have all the fixings for a fancy cocktail: recipe card, a spoon-slash-muddler, a ½ oz jigger, any syrups or mix you’d need, and a coaster so you can look fancy even when you’re sporting that Pusheen neck pillow. All you have to do is buy the appropriate spirit on board!