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Packing Booze: Airline Liquor Regulations

 

Booze suitcaseHow much alcohol can you bring in your luggage? For most American airlines, the limit is five liters of spirits, and unlimited quantities of wine and beer (and other alcohol beneath 24% ABV). In fact, that's the general rule of the TSA, the Transportation Security Administration, of the United States. Their policy states:

Traveling with Special Items

Travelers may now carry through security checkpoints travel-size toiletries (3 ounces or less) that fit comfortably in ONE, QUART-SIZE, clear plastic, zip-top bag.

With the exception of medications, any amount of liquid including alcohol greater than three ounces must be packed in your checked baggage.

Liquids, including alcohol purchased after clearing the security checkpoint are permitted aboard aircraft.

Carrying Alcohol in Your Checked Baggage

Please note, you can’t take alcoholic beverages with more than 70% alcohol content (140 proof), including 95% grain alcohol and 150 proof rum, in your checked luggage.

You may take up to five liters of alcohol with alcohol content between 24% and 70% per person as checked luggage if it’s packaged in a sealable bottle or flask.

Alcoholic beverages with less than 24% alcohol content are not subject to hazardous materials regulations.

I wanted to see how much variance there was in this rule so I looked up the rules for a bunch of airlines. The American ones were forthcoming but the European ones were not so helpful. This is likely because every country has their own rules on importation of alcohol, with many only allowing one liter per person into the country. 

And when you're ready to pack it, here's my Guide to Packing Bottles in your Luggage

Anyway, here are the alcohol policies for several major airlines. 

 

DELTA [website]

Alcohol or Liquor Products

If the alcohol or liquor was purchased after going through the security checkpoint, some amounts and proofs are allowed onboard as checked or carry-on baggage, as long as it adheres to these guidelines:

  • Alcohol content may not exceed 140 proof
  • Up to 5 liters of alcohol per person between 48 and 140 proof is permitted
  • Alcohol under 48 proof is not considered hazardous and is permitted
  • Any alcohol must be in its original retail packaging to be permitted onboard the plane
  • If the alcohol is purchased before going through the security checkpoint, our security rules apply for carry-on or checked baggage.


UNITED [website]

Alcoholic beverages in retail packaging may be carried as checked baggage.
For alcoholic beverages less than 24 percent alcohol by volume (including most wines and beers) there are no restrictions on the amount that may be accepted in checked baggage or purchased after completing security screening at the checkpoint (duty free). If traveling internationally, alcoholic beverages may be subject to customs limitations in the arrival country and transporting alcoholic beverages may be subject to country regulations.

For alcoholic beverages between 24 and 70 percent alcohol by volume there is a limit of five liters (1.3 gallons) per customer that may be accepted in checked baggage, or that may be purchased after completing security screening at the checkpoint (duty free). Packaging must be in receptacles smaller than 5 liters. Alcoholic beverages consisting of more than 70 percent alcohol by volume will not be accepted.

All alcoholic beverages must be packed to prevent breakage. United shall not be liable for breakage or spillage of alcoholic beverages. Normal checked baggage allowance limits, excess fees and carry-on limits apply.

Up to 3.4 oz. (100 ml) of an alcoholic beverage may be taken through the security checkpoint, provided it is less than 70 percent alcohol by volume, in a container that is 3.4 oz. or smaller, and is carried in a plastic zip-top bag.

If you are flying to the U.S. and have a connecting flight, even duty free liquids that meet U.S. requirements will not be permitted through U.S. security checkpoints. If you have a connecting flight, liquid duty free purchases must be placed in your checked baggage. Since you will be required to reclaim your checked bags prior to passing through customs inspection, you can place duty free liquids into your bags and recheck it for your connection.

Note: Alcohol transported on an airplane cannot be consumed on board.

AMERICAN [website]

Alcoholic Beverages
Under 70 Percent by Volume
Example: Most beer and wine products or other alcoholic beverages in retail packaging.
Allowed For Travel?
Checked baggage - yes

Over 70 Percent by Volume
Example: Alcoholic beverages over 140 proof
Allowed For Travel?
No

Notes
Opened containers are only allowed if they are re-closed and packed properly.
Customs regulations by country may limit the amount of alcohol you may transport. Please check ahead of time to ensure that you are in compliance with these limits.
Limited to 5 liters per passenger for beverages 24-70 percent by volume.


Swlogo

SOUTHWEST [website]

Southwest allows alcohol to be carried in checked luggage under the following conditions.

 

  • Alcohol (wine and liquor) must be in the original unopened container with the manufacturer's label when transported in or as checked baggage.
  • The maximum quantity of liquor that may be transported in or as checked baggage on Southwest Airlines is five liters per Customer. Wine is not subject to the five-liter per Customer limitation.
  • Alcohol content may not exceed 70% by volume (140 proof).
  • Alcohol (wine and liquor) in checked baggage must be securely packaged in a leak-proof bag with adequate professional packaging designed to fit the proportions of the bottle to prevent breakage.
  • Alcohol (wine and liquor) accepted as checked baggage must be contained within a corrugated box secured with sealing tape. The contents must be packaged in a leak-proof bag with professional packaging designed to fit the proportions of the bottle to prevent breakage.
  • Liquor and wine packaging is available for sale at Southwest Airlines ticket counters for $5.00 per unit.
  • Southwest Airlines does not accept liability for breakage of liquids or fragile items in checked luggage even if transported in special packaging purchased from Southwest Airlines.
  • Packaging purchased at Southwest Airlines ticket counters is intended for liquor or wine placed inside checked baggage only.
  • Professional packaging by alcohol and wine suppliers (e.g., cruise lines, wineries, duty-free shops) is acceptable as long as the contents have adequate cushioning and the packaging prevents leakage.
  • All alcohol (wine and liquor) is subject to TSA screening.


ALASKA AIRLINES [website]

Alcohol
There is no restriction on the amount of alcohol you may pack in your checked luggage, provided it contains under 24% alcohol by volume (e.g. beer and wine). Alcohol greater than 24% up to and including 70% (140 proof) is allowed with the following restrictions:

  • Up to five liters of alcohol per package
  • Up to five liters of alcohol per person
  • Must be in retail packaging

Alcohol over 70% (140 proof) is prohibited.
Alcohol restrictions, such as prohibiting the possession of alcohol, vary from city to city in the state of Alaska. We recommend verifying the laws and regulations of each city in your travel itinerary. See the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board website for more information.
For international travel, please check each country's customs requirement for import and export.

AIR FRANCE [website]


How much alcohol can I take on board the plane?
The transport of alcohol is subject to new safety regulations regarding liquids. You should use a transparent plastic bag with a maximum capacity of 1 liter to carry all alcohol containers. No individual container should have a capacity of over 100 ml. Please read the special rules for duty-free items purchased on board or at the airport. in the "transporting liquids section".

 British Airways [website with link at PDF of rules]

(Permitted in luggage)  Alcoholic beverages, when in retail packagings, containing more than 24% but not more than 70% alcohol by volume in receptacles not exceeding 5L, with a total net quantity per person of 5L.

Singapore Airlines [No info on website so I contacted customer service. It was a nice response but ultimately doesn't help in planning.]

"In reference to your enquiry, please inform the check-in staff that you have alcoholic beverages in your check-in bag.   Alcoholic beverages must be packed properly to prevent breakage or spillage.  We would like to share with you that whilst all airlines accord special handling to fragile items, we cannot guarantee their condition upon arrival as substantial movements can be created in the aircraft’s baggage containers during take-off and landing.

For this reason and due to the nature of the item, our liability for the damage of fragile items is excluded under our General Conditions of Carriage.  Some passengers purchase travel insurance covering them against such eventualities.

Please check with the arrival country regarding the regulation and limitation of bringing alcoholic beverage into the country.

Kindly access the following TSA links for more information.

 http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/prohibited-items

http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/alcoholic-beverages

Thank you for the opportunity to correspond, Mr English."

Lufthansa [pdf link here thanks to reader Liya for finding it]

Rules:
• In retail packaging, containing more than 24% but not more
than 70% alcohol by volume
• In receptacles not exceeding 5 litres (90 fluid ounces = 5 qt)
• Total net quantity of 5 litres per passenger

Note: Alcoholic beverages containing 24% or less alcohol by volume
are not restricted, including small barrels of beer (party kegs) as they
are not under high pressure. This does not include pressurised barrels
or bottles with carbon dioxide or similar gas, as used in gastronomy.

Croatia Airlines [link here thanks to reader Liya for finding it]

Alcoholic beverages:

When in retail packaging containing more than 24% but not more than 70% alcohol by volume, in receptacles not exceeding 5 L, with a total net quantity per person of 5 L.

The approval of the carrier(s) is required: No
Permitted on one's person: Yes
Permitted in or as carry-on (cabin) baggage: Yes
Permitted in or as checked baggage: Yes

 

 

I DID NOT FIND INFO FOR...
China Southern Airlines
China Eastern Airlines
Ryanair
US Airways
Virgin
Virgin Atlantic
Aer Lingus 
Spirit

 

 

Bottle Transport Bags and Tools

D014fbde-64e8-4d42-8470-1b07a4bf3816_400Some commercial products are meant to take care of the padding and bagging. Most have bubble wrap interior, though some have absorbent material like diaper material. Then most have an outer bag that seals so that even if the bottle leaks or breaks it will all be captured inside. One friend said he used a boating dry bag.

I have not tried the below brands/products, but a few brands available are:

 

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