People often want to take alcohol with them on a flight as a gift for someone or just some duty free to drink at home or while on vacation.
The rules about what alcohol you can and cannot take and where you can pack them can be a little complicated.
The Quick Answer: TSA rules will not permit you to take alcohol through airport security in containers larger than 3.4 ozs. Alcohol in smaller containesr can be taken through but must be placed in your liquids bag with toiletries etc.
Up to 5 liters of alcohol per person may be taken in checked luggage with an ABV between 24% and 70%.
Duty free alcohol purchased after security may be taken on board.
Please continue reading to ensure that you do not break the rules and have your alcohol confiscated.
Can you bring alcohol through airport security?
You are permitted to take alcohol through security at the airport provided it meets certain rules relating to the size of the container/bottle and the alcohol content.
TSA alcohol rules
The Transportation Security Administration rules apply to bringing alcoholic beverages through airport security relate to alcohol being a liquid, not to it actually having any alcohol content.
The TSA rules relating to liquids state that:
- Liquids can only be taken through in containers that are no larger than 3.4 fluid ounces (100 ml)
- All your liquids must be placed within a resealable one quart-sized clear plastic bag and be removed from your carry on bag to be screened separately
- Only one liquids quart sized bag is permitted per person
There is one rule which relates specifically to alcohol. Only alcoholic beverages that are less than 140 proof (70% ABV – alcohol by volume) can be taken on board in either carry on or checked baggage due to FAA regulations (hazardous materials regulations). See FAA pack safe for full details.
Any liquids, including alcohol, which does not meet these rules will not be allowed through the security checkpoint and will be confiscated.
Can you bring alcohol on a plane in your carry on bag?
You are permitted to take any alcoholic beverage aboard your flight in your carry on if you were allowed to take it through the security checkpoint.
If flying internationally, you can also buy alcohol from the duty free shop in the departure area after passing through security and take this on board with you.
If you are flying on a domestic flight you will not be able to purchase duty free goods as the duty free shop staff will want to see your boarding pass to check that you are flying internationally.
Can you put alcohol in a checked bag?
Fortunately, the rules for taking liquids (and therefore also alcohol) in your checked bags are much more relaxed than they are for carry on bags.
So you can take bottles of alcoholic beverages on a plane in checked bags, subject to the following restrictions:
Drinks with less than 24% alcohol by volume (ABV) or 48 proof, for example, beers and wine. These are allowed in your checked luggage and there is no limit to how much alcohol of this strength you can bring. But remember, they will be heavy so watch your checked bag weight rules defined by your airline.
Drinks that contain between 24% – 70% ABV or 48 – 140 proof. These are allowed in your checked baggage but you are limited to up to five liters of alcohol per person. But they must be in unopened retail packaging so no home brew!.
Drinks that contain over 70% ABV or over 140 proof are not allowed on the aircraft at all, whether in your checked baggage or your carry on bag. Leave them at home.
The passenger below is asking the @AskTSA service on Twitter how much alcohol they can take in their checked bag and the TSA’s response:
Can you bring liquor on a plane?
You can bring liquor/spirits on a plane but as stated above the liquor must be no stronger than 70% ABV. In your checked bag you can take up to 5 liters of liquor or other spirits but in your carry on, no bottle/container of spirits can be larger than 3.4 ounces.
Can you bring beer on a plane?
You can only take beer in your carry on if the bottles/cans are no larger than 3.4 ozs as this is the maximum liquid limit to pass through airport security.
You can bring beer on a plane, almost without restriction in your checked baggage, provided it is not very strong with an ABV over 23%. If over 23% ABV you can only take 5 liters.
Beer is quite heavy so you will be restricted by the checked baggage weight allowance of your airline.
Can you bring wine on a plane?
You can take wine on a plane, almost without restriction in your checked baggage, as its ABV will be below 24%. You can only take wine on an aircraft in your cabin bag if the bottles/cans are no larger than 3.4 ozs.
Wine is quite heavy so you will be restricted by the checked baggage weight allowance of most airlines.
Can you bring a flask on a plane?
You can bring any size of flask on a plane in either your carry on luggage or your checked luggage, provided it is empty. If it contains liquid (ie liquor) then it can only be taken through airport security in carry on luggage if it is no larger than 3.4 ozs. If it is larger then it can go in your checked luggage.
However, remember that only alcoholic beverages less than 140 proof (70% ABV) can be taken on board in either carry on or checked luggage.
You cannot drink alcohol that may be contained in a flask during the flight. If you are observed drinking your own liquor by a flight attendant you will be reported.
This passenger is asking the TSA via the @AskTSA service on Twitter about bringing alcohol in a flask:
Can you drink your own alcohol on an airplane?
Even though bringing alcohol may be allowed, under FAA rules you are not permitted to open or drink your own alcohol during a flight, whether you brought it with you from home or bought it in a duty free shop at the airport.
It is the FAA that sets these regulations, not the airlines themselves. The regulations state:
“FAA regulations prohibit passengers from drinking alcohol on board the aircraft unless it is served by the air carrier.”
If a flight attendant notices you drinking your own alcohol on board then you will be reported and probably prosecuted too.
Jetblue state the following:
“You may bring wine, champagne or beer on a flight as long as it is in an unopened container. You are not allowed to consume your own alcohol while on board.”
Can you bring mini bottles of alcohol on a plane?
Mini bottles, also known as airplane shooters or just miniatures (because they are in bottles that are smaller than the maximum 3.4 ounce liquids limit), are permitted on a plane in carry on or checked baggage.
Just remember that you are not permitted to open them or drink your own alcohol during the flight due to FAA rules.
Can you bring alcohol on a plane if you are under 21
Generally, this depends on what countries you are flying from/to and the country the airline is based in. As the legal drinking age in the US is 21 you are not permitted to take an alcoholic beverage on board with you if traveling with a US airline within or to/from the US.
If you are flying with, for example, British Airways, then as the legal drinking age for alcohol in the UK is 18 then it will be permitted, assuming you are not flying to/from the US. You would also be permitted to purchase alcohol from the flight attendants and drink alcohol on the flight.
If you are a US citizen under 21 and visiting the UK or other parts of the world, you will be able to drink whatever alcohol you wish. If flying back to the US, although you will be able to purchase duty free alcohol at the departure airport, if you take it into the US you will be breaking the law.
Can you buy alcohol at duty-free and take it on the plane?
The duty free shops at airports would go out of business very quickly if you were not allowed to take the alcohol you purchased from them onto your flight. So the answer is yes, you can take it on the plane with you. Note that you can take it in addition to your carry on allowance with most airlines.
You can take up to 5 liters of alcohol between 24% and 70% ABV but you must make sure that you are permitted to bring that much into the country you are traveling to by customs.
Taking duty free alcohol on a connecting flight
If you bought alcohol in the duty free shop at your departure airport and you arrive in the US (or elsewhere) and have to catch a domestic connection to get to your final destination then you may need to go through another airport security checkpoint.
Although you will have liquid in bottles that are larger than 3.4 ounces, you should be able to take this through the checkpoint provided the bottles are still packed in the original transparent, secure, tamper-evident bag, as supplied by the shop. If it looks like the bag has been opened then the security agent will confiscate the alcohol.
My wife and I encountered this problem when our flight to Tenerife in the Canary Islands was delayed. Consequently, we missed our connecting flight to another island. We had to spend the night in a hotel and the next morning went through security again to catch our flight.
The security agent was not going to allow us to take two bottles of Pimms we bought at the Heathrow duty free the previous day. Fortunately, as they were still sealed in the secure tamper-evident bag we were given at Heathrow his manager allowed them through.
Can you open your duty free alcohol on a plane?
You cannot open or drink your duty free alcohol during your flight as this is against FAA rules. If the flight attendants notice you doing this you will be reported.
How to pack alcohol in checked baggage?
It sounds pretty obvious but your checked bags can take a battering during the baggage handling process. It is distinctly possible that bottles may be broken and you will end up with alcohol all over your clothes.
So when packing alcohol you should try and pad the bottles as much as possible by wrapping clothes around them and also perhaps first wrapping them in bubble wrap. Make sure the bottles cannot bang together as they will certainly break in that case.
Taking rubbing alcohol on a plane
Passengers are restricted to taking rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) in containers that are no larger than 18 fluid ounces ad only in a checked bag, not hand luggage. You can see the TSAs reply to a passenger asking this question below:
I have been traveling around the world by air since the early 70s and living overseas too. I worked for British Airways for a number of years and I am also a private pilot. About Me