For lovers of fine wine or craft brews, there’s nothing better than traveling to distilleries and vineyards on vacation. Understandably, many “spirits sightseers” also want to bring some of their favorite adult beverages home to savor a few extra sips from their recent getaway. Although it’s OK to pack alcohol in carry-on and checked baggage, tourists need to follow a few special rules to stay within the law.
So, before you start wrapping your booze, be sure you review the TSA’s guidelines on legally transporting liquor.
What Does The TSA Say About Bringing Alcohol on Planes?
If you’ve been through airport security, you’re probably well aware of the TSA’s “3-1-1 Rule” for liquids. According to this policy, each passenger can only bring a 3.4 oz liquid container sealed in a clear quart-sized bag in their carry-on luggage. Since alcohol is a fluid, this rule applies to these beverages—with one caveat. If your product has an alcohol by volume (ABV) score of 70% or above 140-proof, don’t bring this strong stuff on your flight! However, any 3.4 oz alcoholic beverage below a 70% ABV score is OK in a clear quart-sized bag.
So, How Many 3 oz Bottles Can People Take on a Plane?
Although you’re only allowed one 3.4 oz bottle of alcohol below 70% ABV in carry-on luggage, there is a way to legally bring more alcohol on a plane. If you purchase alcohol at a duty-free shop after passing airport security, you can bring five liters of alcohol on an airplane if it’s below 70% ABV. However, please keep these duty-free purchases sealed and wrapped in the bag you got at checkout. Please also keep a printed copy of your receipt from your purchase to avoid potential legal hassles.
Can Travelers Bring Alcohol in Checked Luggage?
The limitations on alcohol in checked luggage are more relaxed than for carry-on bags. According to the FAA, you can pack as much beer or wine in your checked baggage as you have space if they’re under 24% ABV. If you have products with between 24% – 70% ABV, then you need to restrain yourself to just five liters per person. Anything above 70% ABV is illegal in checked luggage.
Can People Drink Alcohol on a Plane?
Alas, you can’t just break open a tiny spirits bottle from your carry-on and take a shot mid-air. The FAA clearly states you can’t drink any of that 3.4 oz beverage you brought on board. The only legal way to enjoy a refreshing drink on an aircraft is to order one from your friendly flight attendant.
Do Different Airlines Have Unique Alcohol Policies?
Although most airline carriers abide by the liquor laws listed above, there are a few exceptions. Most notably, if you’re flying internationally, you will face stricter penalties if you bring any amount of alcohol on some airlines. Specifically, many airlines in the Middle East forbid the transport, sale, and consumption of alcohol per Islamic law. A few airlines well known for anti-alcohol policies include:
- Saudi Airlines
- Kuwait Airlines
- Air Arabia
- Royal Brunei Airlines
Just keep in mind that each airline has nuanced policies that are constantly changing. For instance, some companies like EgyptAir may allow people to bring alcohol on board even if they don’t serve it. Even if you feel “certain” your airline is OK with the general guidelines for alcohol, it doesn’t hurt to double-check their official policies.
Yes, It’s OK To Bring Alcohol in Carry-Ons — Just Be Extra Cautious
Bottom line: It’s usually OK to bring a 3.4 oz container of alcohol below 70% ABV on a plane if it’s in a quart-sized bag. You can also bring up to five liters of alcohol under 70% ABV you purchase at the airport’s duty-free shop. However, to be safe, it’s always a good idea to look up your airline’s stance on alcohol, especially if you’re traveling outside of the USA.
Oh yeah, and be sure to pack your wine bottles and beer cans with plenty of cushioning (e.g., sweaters or towels). There’s nothing worse than finding a puddle of pinot noir splattered in your luggage!
Hi! I am George and I am the Content Lead for Stasher.com. I love travel, writing, making music and meeting new and interesting people.