Wine can make a great gift or souvenir to bring back home from your vacation. Perhaps you have been on a wine tasting experience or visiting wineries and wish to take some wines home on your flight.
Or maybe you just spotted a great deal!
This post is about flying with wine. The rules about alcoholic beverages depend on alcohol content, but wine is low strength alcohol so there are fewer restrictions than you might think.
Let’s get to it!
TSA Wine Rules
Here is a screengrab from the Transportation Security Administration website about traveling with wine on a plane:
The two options are hand luggage and hold luggage. Let’s first look at hand luggage guidelines.
Can You Bring Wine In Carry On On Luggage?
All liquids are restricted in carry-on luggage and are monitored at the security checkpoints. Wine, of course, is a liquid and is no exception. So it falls under the 3-1-1 rule.
You can bring liquids in bottles that are 3.4 oz (100ml) or smaller. All these travel-size bottles must go in 1 quart-size bag. Each passenger is only allowed 1 quart-sized bag.
Even though this is usually called the toiletries bag there is nothing to stop you bring alcohol that is under 70% alcohol by volume (ABV) in your toiletries bag. So you can bring wine in smaller than 3.4 oz bottles in your carry on luggage.
A bottle of wine is 750 ml or 26 oz, and a standard size glass of wine is 5 oz. So 3.4 oz of wine really isn’t much at all.
Still, you might be thinking who needs shampoo… I can decant wine into 2 or 3 little travel size bottles or containers, pack then in my toiletries bag and then pour myself a glass of wine during the flight.
Not so fast…
FAA rules don’t allow you to serve yourself your own alcohol when on a plane and the fines can be pretty steep. At the time of writing only JetBlue has a policy where if you ask nicely, and are sober, their flight attendants will serve your own alcohol to you.
So if you are flying JetBlue you can pack a little wine in your carry on and drink it on the plane. With other airlines, you can pack wine in tiny bottles but you can’t drink them on the plane.
Duty Free Wine In Carry On
If after you have passed through airport security there is a duty-free shop that sells wine. You can buy wine bottles here and carry them on to the plane in your hand luggage. The 3.4 oz limit doesn’t apply to liquids purchased after the security checkpoint.
In theory, you can even bring duty-free wine in your carry on if you have a connecting domestic flight and need to pass through security to board your connecting flight.
Your wine bottles must be packed in a transparent, tamper-evident bag by the retailer and have an original receipt that was made within 48 hours.
I say in theory because it doesn’t always work out as Bob discovered:
The TSA officer always has the final say about what is or isn’t allowed through the security checkpoint.
The TSA recommends that for your convenience you always try to pack your wine in checked bags. So let’s now check out the rules surrounding flying with wine in your hold baggage.
Can You Pack Wine In Checked Luggage?
You might have heard the rule that you are only permitted to take 5 liters of alcohol per person in your checked luggage.
This rule is only true for alcohol that is between 24 percent and 70 percent ABV. In short, it’s a rule for liquor or spirits and not a rule for your average bottle of wine.
The typical strength of wine is somewhere between 11% and 13% percent alcohol. So there are no quantity limits on packing wine in checked luggage since it’s less than 24 percent alcohol by volume. Even port or sherry is around 20% and doesn’t have limitations.
You do still need to be legal drinking age to fly with wine, and you need to think about weight.
Please be aware that wine is heavy and you might risk overweight bag charges if you are not careful.
While airport security will allow you to take a suitcase full of wine the extra weight will possibly mean your airline charges you an additional fee.
A typical checked bag has a weight limit of 50 lbs.
Your empty suitcase will weigh around 10 lbs. Then you need to account for all your clothes and shoes etc. Bottles of wine tend to weigh about 3 lbs. It won’t be hard to go over your 50 lbs weight limit if you go crazy when packing wine so a luggage scale might come in handy.
You also need to consider customs. If you are bringing more than one liter of wine into the US from a foreign country you will need to pay tax. This is true even if you purchased the wine at a duty-free shop before taking an international flight. The “duty-free” refers to the duty due to the country where you purchased the wine. You’ll still be liable to pay duty when you get back to the united states.
If you are flying internationally leaving the US. Then check the import rules of your destination country. The TSA will allow you to pack wine in your checked luggage but you may need to declare it and pay tax at your destination.
How Many Bottles Of Wine Can You Fly With?
As mentioned above. There is no quantity limit on the number of bottles of wine you can pack in your checked luggage. You do need to consider weight and any duty that may need to be paid.
Will Wine Explode On A Plane?
The cargo hold area of planes is pressurized and the temperature is controlled. There is no danger of your wine exploding on a plane due to atmospheric pressure.
However, baggage handlers are not renowned for being the most gentle people. Wine bottles that are not extremely well packed could break inside your case if the baggage handlers are throwing your case around.
The best way to mitigate against this is to use wine protector sleeves. Failing that, try to pack your wines in the center of your suitcase and surround them with clothes for padding.
You can bring wine on a plane in your checked luggage. There are no limitations in quantity, but you need to think about weight and any duty that you might need to pay.
You can also bring tiny little bottles of wine in your carry on toiletries bag but you can’t drink them unless you are flying with JetBlue.
A bottle of wine isn’t much use without glasses and you’ll be pleased to know you can bring wine glasses in carry-on bags or checked bags.
You can pack a corkscrew in your checked luggage or carry on but if your corkscrew bottle opener has a blade you can’t take that in your carry on since it could be used as a weapon.
That’s it! You now have everything you need to transport wine on a plane. Bottoms up!
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