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  • Writer's pictureNick Burgess

Can You Bring Alcohol On a Plane? A Guide to Drinking and Flying


Air travel brings about a multitude of questions, and one of the most common inquiries is about bringing alcohol on a plane. Whether you’re hoping to enjoy a stiff drink mid-flight or want to bring home a bottle of fine wine from your travels, understanding the regulations around carrying alcohol on planes is crucial. This comprehensive guide will answer all your questions about transporting alcoholic beverages by air, from federal regulations to practical tips for packing your favorite drinks.

a mojito in a glass sitting on a bar

The Basics: Federal Regulations and TSA Guidelines

When it comes to transporting alcohol on planes, federal regulations and guidelines set by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are the most important things to understand. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also plays a role in determining what is allowed.

Carry-On Luggage vs. Checked Baggage

For carry-on luggage, the TSA has strict rules regarding liquids. Alcoholic beverages must be in containers of 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less and fit into a single quart-sized, clear, zip-top bag. This is similar to other liquids, gels, and aerosols.

For checked baggage, the regulations are a bit different. You can transport alcohol with an alcohol content of up to 70% (140 proof) in your checked luggage. However, there are quantity limits. According to federal law, you can bring up to 5 liters (1.3 gallons) of alcohol per person, provided it is in unopened retail packaging.

Duty-Free Alcohol and International Flights

When traveling internationally, you can purchase duty-free alcohol. Duty-free shops are available at most international airports, offering a variety of alcoholic beverages at tax-free prices. The duty-free limits for bringing alcohol into the United States are 1 liter per person, but this can vary by country.

Practical Tips for Packing Alcohol

Bubble Wrap and Tamper-Evident Bags

To avoid any mishaps during your flight, packing your alcohol carefully is crucial. Use bubble wrap or other protective materials to wrap your bottles, especially if they are in your checked baggage. Additionally, many duty-free stores will place your purchases in tamper-evident bags. These bags are important as they show the alcohol was purchased in an airport duty-free shop and not tampered with.

Unopened Retail Packaging

Alcohol must be in its original packaging, especially for duty-free alcohol. This is to ensure that it has not been tampered with and meets all legal requirements.

Airline-Specific Rules and International Considerations

Different airlines and countries have their own rules regarding alcohol. For example, Southwest Airlines allows passengers to bring their own alcohol on board, but it must be served by a flight attendant. Always check with your specific airline before traveling.

Connecting Flights and Final Destination

When traveling internationally with connecting flights, be aware that different countries have different regulations. What is permissible in one country may not be allowed in another. For instance, if you purchase duty-free alcohol and have a connecting flight in a country with stricter regulations, you may need to recheck your alcohol at that airport.

The Legal Drinking Age and Alcohol Consumption

High Altitudes and Alcohol Effects

At high altitudes, the effects of alcohol can be more pronounced due to lower oxygen levels. It’s important to drink responsibly and be aware of how alcohol affects you differently during a flight.

Legal Drinking Age

The legal drinking age varies by country, but in the United States, it is 21 years old. Airline staff and flight attendants are responsible for enforcing these regulations on board.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Bring My Own Alcohol on a Plane?

Yes, but there are limitations. You can bring small bottles of alcohol (50 milliliters or less) in your carry-on, and larger bottles in your checked baggage, adhering to the quantity limits.

Can I Drink My Own Alcohol During the Flight?

No, FAA regulations prohibit the consumption of your own alcohol during the flight unless served by a flight attendant.

How Much Alcohol Can I Bring from a Duty-Free Store?

You can typically bring up to 1 liter of duty-free alcohol into the United States. However, this limit can vary by country and airline, so it’s best to check specific regulations before your trip.

What Happens If I Pack Alcohol Incorrectly?

Improperly packed alcohol can be confiscated at TSA checkpoints. Additionally, if bottles break in your checked luggage, it can cause a mess and potentially damage your belongings.

Are There Any Special Considerations for Different Types of Alcohol?

Yes, different types of alcohol have different regulations. For example, hard liquor (above 24% but below 70% alcohol content) has stricter quantity limits compared to wine or beer.


Bringing alcohol on a plane is a common question among travelers, and while it is allowed under certain conditions, understanding the rules and regulations is crucial. Whether it’s packing your own mini bottles for a short domestic flight or purchasing duty-free alcohol on an international trip, following these guidelines will ensure a smooth and enjoyable travel experience. Always remember to check specific airline and destination regulations, pack your alcohol securely, and consume responsibly. Happy travels!

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