Can You Bring Alcohol On A Plane?

Worker looking at many bottles of wine on shelves.

Many people enjoy specific types of alcohol, and not all alcoholic beverages are available everywhere. Some brands are only available in certain areas, so you might decide to buy a few bottles to take home with you. Travelers often wish to purchase certain kinds of alcohol while outside the country or buy alcohol from duty-free shops at the airport.

So, what are the rules when it comes to traveling with alcohol on a plane? The answer depends on a few different factors, like the alcohol content of the beverage and whether you plan to place the container in your checked bag or carry-on luggage. Keep reading as we give you all the details you need to know when it comes to bringing alcohol on a plane.


Can I Bring Alcohol On A Plane?

So, can you take alcohol on a plane? The answer is yes, but there are some caveats. You can bring most alcohol on a plane, but you must follow the TSA’s alcohol rules. The rules concerning alcohol on planes vary slightly between checked luggage and carry-on bags. In addition, there is some alcohol that cannot be brought on a plane at all. Here are the details of the Transportation Security Administration’s alcohol rules.


— Checked Baggage Alcohol Rules

Can you put alcohol in a checked bag? The answer is yes. If you plan to put alcoholic beverages in your checked baggage, you need to know these rules. Remember that, unlike carry-on bags, there is no limit on liquids in your checked bags. However, there are still some limits on alcohol. For beverages with lower alcohol content, like most beers and wine, there is no limit to the amount you can carry in your checked bag! For beverages with an alcohol content of 24% to 70% (48 to 140 proof), you are limited to five liters of alcohol per person. These bottles of alcohol must also be in unopened retail packaging. Finally, beverages that are greater than 140 proof are prohibited in your checked bags. In fact, alcohol with a proof of 140 or higher is prohibited on a plane altogether. Here is an easy chart showing the rules for checked baggage.

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— Carry-On Baggage Alcohol Rules

Remember that the TSA rules about bringing liquids on a plane are strict, and these rules don’t just apply to alcohol. However, since alcoholic beverages are liquid, these rules also apply to containers of alcohol that you might bring in your carry-on bag. Here are the rules you will need to follow for carry-on bags.

For beverages that contain less than 24% alcohol by volume (ABV), you are limited to containers of 3.4 ounces or less. If the container is larger than this, you cannot put it in your carry-on. In addition, all the containers must fit comfortably in a clear, zip-top, quart-sized bag. The zip-top bag will need to be removed from your luggage before going through airport security. So, mini bottles of alcohol may be good candidates for your carry-on bag, but bottles of wine would not be.

When it comes to beverages between 48 to 140 proof, the same rules apply. You are limited to 3.4-ounce bottles that can fit comfortably inside a clear, quart-sized, zip-top bag. You are not allowed to bring any alcohol on the plan that is more than 140 proof. Here is a chart for easy reference.

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Bringing Alcohol Purchased In Duty-Free Shop On Your Flight

Many people choose to shop at the duty-free store while waiting on a connecting flight—especially those on international flights! So, what are the rules concerning alcohol purchased at the duty-free shop? The rules are a little different since you have already passed through airport security and are already inside the terminal. It is clearly too late to place the alcohol into your checked bag, so you will have to carry it onto the plane.

Alcohol purchased at a duty-free shop can be carried onto the plane, and you can place it in your carry-on bag if it meets the following rules. First, the alcohol content can be no greater than 70%. Alcohol that is more than 140 proof cannot be brought onto the plane. Next, you are limited to five liters of alcohol. The alcohol must be placed into a clear, tamper-evident bag by the retailer. The reason for this is to ensure that you do not open the alcohol and drink it during the flight. Also, keep your receipt! You must show that the alcohol was purchased within the last 48 hours.

Remember that you sometimes must pass through a security checkpoint again when connecting in the United States after an international flight. This means that your carry-on bags will be subject to the 3.4-ounce limitation described above for domestic flights. So, you should always purchase your duty-free alcohol at the last airport before your final destination. Also, remember that even though you may carry up to five liters of alcohol from the duty-free shop onto the plane, the United States only allows one liter to enter the country duty-free. You will be required to pay taxes on the remaining four liters.


Penalties For Violating The TSA Alcohol Rules

TSA agent searching through a suitcase.

You might be wondering what happens if you violate the rules and bring alcohol onto the plane illegally. There are a few different potential penalties you might receive. First, you might simply be required to dispose of the alcohol. For instance, suppose that you attempt to go through airport security with a bottle of alcohol larger than 3.4 ounces. You will likely just be required to dispose of the alcohol, and you can go on your way.

However, the penalties could become more severe, depending on the situation. You might be faced with civil penalties and stiff fines for violating the alcohol rules. Some passengers have been fined over $15,000 for violating the FAA’s alcohol rules. In rare cases, you could face criminal charges and even jail time. Usually, the situation does not escalate that far, but it could happen. If you want to bring your own booze on your next flight, the best thing to do is familiarize yourself with the rules and follow them.


How To Pack Alcohol For Travel

If you are going to bring your own alcohol on the plane, you will want to make sure it is packed appropriately. Most alcohol comes in glass bottles, so these could break easily during transport. Putting alcohol in checked baggage could certainly result in breakage if you don’t pack the bottles properly. Some airline workers don’t always treat your checked baggage gently, so you want to do everything possible to avoid the breakage of an alcohol bottle. Start by placing the alcohol bottle into a sealed plastic bag. If the bottle does break, the bag can help contain the liquid and avoid soaking everything in your suitcase.

Next, wrap the bag containing the alcohol bottle in thick clothing. Sweaters, jackets, sweatpants, or other thick clothing items work great. This helps provide cushioning and an extra layer of protection for the bottle. Finally, pack the bottle in the middle of your suitcase instead of against the edge. This provides as much protection as possible when your bag is being processed and bumps against other objects. If necessary, you can even find special bags designed specifically for protecting alcohol bottles during travel.


Drinking Your Own Alcohol During Your Flight

Glass of wine on a plane's tray table.

Now that you have gotten your alcohol onto the plane, you might be ready to sit back, relax, and enjoy a drink. Not so fast! FAA regulations state that you can only drink alcohol on the flight that is served by the carrier. Remember that these federal regulations are established by the Federal Aviation Administration. So, can you get around that rule by having the flight attendant open your bottle of alcohol and serve it to you? The answer is almost always no.

In addition to the FAA rules above, most airlines have their own rules concerning alcohol. Delta, Southwest, JetBlue, United, and others have a rule that prohibits you from drinking your own alcohol on a flight — regardless of who serves it. So, even though you might be able to get by the FAA rule on a technicality, the air carriers have stricter rules that you must follow. Even though you can’t get a DUI or DWI on a plane, you still aren’t allowed to drink your own alcohol while flying.


The Bottom Line

You can generally bring alcohol on a plane, but there are strict rules that you must follow. You are limited to 3.4-ounce or smaller bottles in your carry-on bag, and all the bottles must fit inside a quart-sized bag. You can put an unlimited amount of alcohol in your checked bag, as long as the alcohol content is below 24% ABV. You are limited to five liters in your checked bag for beverages with higher alcohol content, and beverages above 70% ABV are prohibited completely. If you have any questions about the alcohol rules, always make sure to check with the TSA or your airline before you head to the airport.


Frequently Asked Questions


What size container can you bring alcohol in on a plane?

If you are bringing alcohol on the plane in your carry-on bag, the container can be no larger than 3.4 ounces. In addition, you are limited to the number of containers that you can comfortably fit inside a clear, quart-sized bag. For checked baggage, there is no limit to the size of the container for beverages with low alcohol content. However, you are limited to no more than five liters of alcohol between 48 and 140 proof.


Is there a limit to how much alcohol I can bring on a plane?

Yes, there is a limit to the amount of alcohol you can bring on a plane. If bringing alcohol in your carry-on bag, you are limited to containers of no more than 3.4 ounces. In addition, all the containers must fit within a quart-sized, zip-top bag. If the bottles do not easily fit into the bag, then you have too many. For your checked baggage, there is no limit on alcohol that is less than 48 proof. For alcohol with 24% to 70% ABV, you are limited to five liters. Lastly, alcohol exceeding 140 proof is prohibited, so you cannot bring it on a plane.


Can I bring hard liquor on a plane?

So, can you take liquor on a plane? If the alcohol content of the liquor is greater than 70% alcohol by volume, you cannot bring it on the plane. Federal regulations prohibit alcohol of more than 140 proof on flights. However, if the liquor is less than 70% ABV, you are allowed to bring it onto a plane. You will be limited to no more than five liters of this type of liquor. Beer and wine containing less than 24% ABV have no limit, and you can put as much as you want into your checked bag.