Can You Bring Alcohol on a Plane? What You Need to Know

A hand holding a small bottle of red wine next to an airplane window, with clouds and blue sky visible outside.

Can you bring alcohol on a plane? The answer is it depends. With luggage fees and packing rules, air travel is hard enough to navigate without trying to pack in a bottle of wine from your latest adventure. This guide to traveling with booze will give your next trip a little less turbulence.

I’m old enough to remember air travel before the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and its current air travel rules. Until September 10, 2001, it was common for travelers returning from wine-tasting vacations in regions like Napa Valley or the Livermore Valley to board their flights carrying cardboard cases filled with six bottles of local wine. However, the devastating attacks on New York, Washington DC, and rural Pennsylvania brought about a reevaluation of airline security. With the current liquid restrictions, those cardboard carrying cases quickly became a thing of the past — like ashtrays in the armrest. 

Times have certainly changed. Does this mean you can no longer bring alcohol on a plane? Not at all! However, knowing the modern regulations and packing techniques is crucial for traveling with your favorite beverages. This guide will help you navigate these rules, ensuring your alcohol arrives just as intended, making your travel experience smoother and your adult beverages secure.

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Have You Taken Alcohol on a Plane?

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Can You Bring Alcohol on a Plane?

The short answer is yes, you can bring alcohol on an airplane. But the alcohol content and volume of the bottle matter. So does whether you pack it in your checked luggage or your carry-on bag. 

How well you pack the alcohol makes a big difference, too. Many bottles are glass, so you want to be sure they’re well protected and don’t break or buckle under pressure and spill all over your clothes. That’s a guaranteed way to ruin your travel adventures.

Like any other item you pack, you should always check with the TSA or similar air travel governing body in the country where you are traveling before bringing alcohol on a plane. This will save you time and trouble at the security checkpoint. 

Some airlines have different rules for bringing beer, wine, and spirits on board — and some simply don’t allow it at all — so it’s wise to check with them, too. If you’re traveling internationally, be sure to follow local customs regulations and laws for any duty-free alcohol you’ve purchased.

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Bringing Alcohol in Your Carry-On Luggage

You can bring alcohol on a plane in your carry-on bag. According to the TSA, it has to be a mini-bottle size less than or equal to 3.4 fluid ounces. These mini liquor bottles must fit into a single, clear, quart-sized bag, along with any other liquids you need to bring on board. 

However, bringing alcohol on the plane in your carry-on is not allowed on some airlines. For example, Saudia, the national airline of Saudi Arabia, is a dry airline. It follows Islamic laws at all times, even when the plane has reached a cruising altitude above non-Islamic countries. Travelers are not permitted to bring any alcohol on board in either their hand luggage or checked luggage. 

Even if you can bring your mini bottles of alcohol on board, federal regulations strictly forbid passengers from consuming personal alcohol on board. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a drink. 

A plastic cup with a small amount of water, on a napkin with a map design, placed on an airplane tray table.
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Drinking on a Plane

If your airline carrier serves alcohol on your flight, you can typically order beer, wine, or a cocktail on board. Popular choices are bloody marys and two-ingredient drinks like rum and Cokes or whiskey gingers

But you can step it up a notch if you prefer a more complicated drink. Stash an airplane cocktail kit in your carry-on to turn your airplane tray table into an impromptu bar. These kits contain items like sugar cubes and bitters and are a great way to ensure you have everything you need to make your favorite drinks, like an old-fashioned or a French 75. However, you’ll still need to get the boozy ingredients from the flight attendant, not your carry-on. 

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Packing Alcohol in Your Checked Luggage

If you want to bring home a special bottle of wine or liqueur as a souvenir, the size means it should go in your checked baggage. Per the current TSA guidelines, you can bring up to 5 liters or 1.3 gallons of alcohol in checked bags, as long as it’s between 24% and 70% alcohol and still in its unopened, original packaging. Any alcohol that is over 140 proof is banned. This includes Everclear (190 proof), Hapsburg Gold Label Premium Reserve Absinthe (179 proof), and Bacardi 151 (151 proof). 

If it’s less than 24% alcohol, there’s no limit to how much you can pack. Lucky for this wine lover who frequently visits California’s wine regions, many wines are less than 24% alcohol!

Wine and Liquor

I always keep a protective wine bag (or two) in my suitcase. If I want to bring home a bottle of wine from France or a bottle of Kula toasted coconut rum from Hawaii (my current obsession), I’m all set to get it home safely. 

You can also keep a few sheets of bubble wrap in your suitcase. It lies flat and weighs nothing. If you decide not to bring a bottle home, you can always leave it behind to make room for another souvenir. If you have neither a protective bottle sleeve nor a few bubble wrap sheets, you can also use soft clothing like t-shirts, pajamas, and sweaters for the trip home.

But be careful about getting too creative. Leah Ingram, a blogger at Bagels and Lasagna, ran into some trouble returning home from her last trip to Jamaica. “We bought bottles of rum and bags of coffee beans to bring home. To keep the bottles of rum from breaking, we slipped them into the bags of coffee, and it worked perfectly to pad them. However, we ended up getting pulled out of line at customs because, it seems, people smuggle drugs in coffee beans. Lesson learned.”


Bringing home a brewski might not be as common as a wine souvenir, but you can certainly travel with beer. If you visit a brewery, you can likely purchase local craft beers to bring home. 

“I absolutely love bringing beers back from my travels to enjoy at home and share with friends, so I always travel with large Ziploc bags, scotch tape, and bubble wrap in my suitcase,” said Alexis Dickie of the beer and travel blog Adventures & Ales

Accidents do happen, especially with the high air pressure on a plane, which can cause bottles to break or pop open. If you know ahead of time you’d like to bring home a cold one to enjoy later, pack a few supplies in your suitcase. You can pack both cans and bottles of beer in a suitcase for safe travel. 

“A four-pack of cans fits perfectly in the larger Ziploc bags, and I put some bubble wrap in the bag, too, to cushion any impact my bag may encounter,” said Dickie. “For beer or wine, I wrap the bottle in bubble wrap, tape it securely, and then put it in a bag. I have found this system to work extremely well.” 

If something does come open or break, the sealed bag will contain the liquid to prevent your clothes and suitcase from getting soaked in beer or wine. This extra layer of protection ensures a smoother and cleaner travel experience, sparing you from any unexpected spills or stains.

Open cardboard box with six bottles of wine, some with dark and one with a red cap, viewed from above on a wooden floor.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

Shipping Alcohol

Don’t have room in your suitcase or prefer to avoid the risk of a broken bottle? Most wineries can ship a bottle or box of wine to your home if traveling within the United States. The same goes for many distilleries and breweries, depending on your state’s laws for shipping alcohol

You may be able to ship alcohol internationally, but whether you can do so depends on the carrier or shipping service, the laws of the country, and the alcohol percentage. Be prepared to complete customs paperwork, importation licenses, or special permits. Additionally, inquire about any extra taxes or duties that might apply to your wine shipment once it reaches the destination country. 

Infographic explaining the dos and don'ts of bringing alcohol on a plane, including tsa guidelines and packing tips.

Have You Traveled with Alcohol?

Have you ever tried bringing a bottle of your favorite rosé home from Provence or a Kentucky bourbon on your flight? What additional advice, tips, or tricks can you add to help answer the question, “Can you bring alcohol on a plane?” Share them via the comments section below.

Portions of this article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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2 thoughts on “Can You Bring Alcohol on a Plane? What You Need to Know”

  1. This is such great information. I haven’t thought about taking any for years, just assuming it was a hard no. Thanks for the info!

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