Think prices for alcoholic beverages are outrageous at a ballpark? Well the airlines have an even more captive audience when it comes to purchasing adult beverages. Consider flight attendants as bartenders in the sky. When flying at 30,000 feet across the United States or are on an international flight, you just can’t hop off a plane to pick up your own alcohol. Unfortunately you can’t smuggle some whiskey onto a plane in your carry-on through TSA security … or can you?!
Actually, if you want to drink alcohol during air travel, bringing along some mini-bottles in your carry-on bag could potentially save you a few bucks otherwise spent indulging in a cocktail. TSA rules actually don’t prohibit passengers from bringing alcohol on a plane. They do limit the size of the bottles that can be brought onboard a flight but the liquid contained inside them can be alcohol.
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TSA Alcohol Rules for Carry On Luggage
In fact, TSA allows air travel passengers to carry as many 3.4 ounce bottles of liquid (mini bottles of liquor are 1.7 ounces) that fit “comfortably” in one, quart sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag. What does comfortable mean? A bag can be sealed without busting at the seams. One of these plastic bags is permitted per passenger to include within carry-on luggage.
Also keep in mind that TSA rules allow liquids (including alcohol) purchased after clearing the airport security checkpoint to be permitted on aircraft. When traveling internationally you may want to keep an eye out for duty-free stores while walking the concourse on your way to the boarding gate. The 3.4 ounce bottle restrictions don’t apply to these alcohol purchases and you are free to bring whatever you purchase on the plane as long as it fits within your carry-on. Note though that if your arrival point in the United States isn’t your final destination the 3.4 ounce bottle TSA rule applies to your connecting flight.
Know Your Airline FAA Regulations for Alcohol
OK, here’s the rub though to bringing alcohol on a plane with you: FAA regulations state that “No person may drink any alcoholic beverage aboard an aircraft unless the certificate holder operating the aircraft has served that beverage.” In other words, bringing your own alcohol to drink while onboard a flight by Southwest Airlines and other air travel carriers could get your beverages confiscated, or get you tossed from a flight if confronted by a flight attendant. In fact, you could even be fined up to $11,000 dollars. That is except for Jet Blue whose policy is that if passengers present carry-on alcohol to a flight attendant it will then served back to them at no charge circumventing the FAA regulation. Have to give some props to Jet Blue for customer service in this regard!
If you are going to rebel and drink your own alcohol on a flight be discreet, and understand that Traveling Dad doesn’t condone this behavior. Ask for one of the complimentary sodas or juices flight attendants provide passengers. Then mix your smuggled rum, vodka or whiskey into it creating a cocktail. Make yourself an improvised Screwdriver (vodka and orange juice) a Bloody Molly (whiskey and tomato juice) or a Rum & Coke. A Bourbon & Sprite is also a nice mixed drink to help you relax during your air travels. Just don’t chug your own booze from a mini bottle as that is a sure fire way of capturing the attention of a flight attendant or getting tattled on by another passenger.
Alcohol Rules for Checked Luggage
Want to bring alcohol along with you on a trip to consume when reaching your final destination? FAA regulations allow airline passengers to pack it in checked baggage. There are some restrictions though. Do not bring alcoholic beverages with more than 70% alcohol content (140 proof), including 95% grain alcohol and 150 proof rum, in checked luggage. Obviously, they don’t want explosive, flammable liquid being transported on a plane. It is OK to pack up to 5 liters of alcohol per person, when the alcohol content is between 24% and 70%, but only in checked luggage. Package them in a sealable bottle or flask. Alcoholic beverages with less than 24% alcohol content are not subject to these hazardous materials FAA regulations.
So yes you can bring your own alcohol with you when traveling by air. You just can’t drink it while flying on a plane! Be aware that drinking any amount of alcohol brought aboard can put you at peril unless the flight attendants are cool and look the other way. Getting caught could make your smuggled whiskey one of the most expensive drinks you’ll ever drink. Plus it is bad travel etiquette. Save your own booze for tailgating and be prepared to spend some cash on alcoholic beverages when it comes to air travel.
Have more do and don’ts questions about TSA rules and FAA regulations? Connect with @AskTSA on Twitter and Facebook Messenger. TSA has staff specifically designated for answering people’s questions and inquiries from 8am – 10pm EST on weekdays as well as 9am to 7pm during weekends and holidays. They are prepared to answer security-related questions 365 days a year, like can I smuggle whiskey on an airplane? Find out about TSA security checkpoint wait times at an airport you are heading to for a flight and get tips on how to make air travel a bit less hectic by reaching out on social media.