How To Pack Alcohol In Checked Luggage

Last Updated on October 15, 2021

It’s important to pack alcohol safely in checked baggage.

Baggage handlers can be a little rough and a broken bottle can ruin clothes.

Not to mention just wasting the good stuff!

This post has all the tips you need to teach you how to pack alcohol safely in checked luggage.

Let’s begin.

Don’t Pack Any Liquor Over 70% ABV

Super strong liquor over 70% is not permitted to be packed in checked luggage because it is flammable.

While you are worried about breaking bottles the TSA is worrying about the plane catching fire!

You are permitted to bring regular strength spirits on a plane, just not the super strong stuff.

But alcoholic beverages that are more than 24% but less than 70% are limited to 5 liters per passenger.

That mostly means you can pack a maximum of 5 liters of liquor though occasionally a fortified wine might be stronger than 24%.

Lower strength liquor can still catch fire, but it is not as dangerous. Still, the fact that vodka burns is why you are only limited to 5 liters of it in your checked baggage.

Beer and wine is usually weaker than 24% ABV and it doesn’t burn.

The good news is that as far as the TSA is concerned you can pack as much beer or wine in your checked luggage as you want.


Beware Of Airline Checked Luggage Weight Limits

This is when it can be handy to own a luggage scale.

Airlines have weight limits for checked luggage and if your bag is too heavy the fines can be very expensive. It’s usually around 50 lbs maximum weight for a checked suitcase but check the airline you are flying with.

Loading up your suitcase with alcohol might put you over the weight limit.

Ollie loaded up his suitcase with beer for a flight.

But it looks like he has packed 48 pint cans of beer and 12 glass bottles! By my calculations he’ll be well over the checked bag weight limit and that cheap beer will turn into expensive beer when he pays a $100 – $150 penalty at the airport.

So if you are packing a lot of alcohol in your checked bag then use a scale before going to the airport!

If you are already on vacation and don’t have a luggage scale with you then you can try to weigh your suitcase without a scale.

Roll Your Alcohol In Clothing To Provide Some Protection

Assuming your suitcase is not too heavy your next problem is the risk of breaking a bottle.

A broken bottle of red wine could ruin a suitcase full of clothes.

Ideally, you’ll be prepared and have packing materials to help you.

But often we buy a bottle of alcohol at the last minute and don’t have any packing tape or bubble wrap with us.

The next best thing you can do to try to prevent breakages is to roll your bottles up in clothing.

Or put a bottle into a leg of your pants and then stuff the leg with socks and underwear.

The important thing is to make sure 2 bottles cannot touch. Glass bottles knocking together inside your case is risky.

When placing your bottles in your bag make sure they don’t sit near the edge of your suitcase.

If baggage handlers throw your luggage around the impact zones are the edges of the luggage.

If your luggage is half empty find anything you can to fill the suitcase. Ask the hotel if they have any cardboard or waste paper. You need to make sure things are not moving around in there.

The baggage handlers will not keep your suitcase upright so it needs to be tightly packed.

You might put alcohol bottles in plastic bags but unless the bag is properly sealed any breakage would leak anyway.

There is a better solution.

Try Liquor Bags

Bubble wrap is fine but if the bottle breaks you’ll still be in trouble.

A liquor bag is a plastic bag that is sealed to keep liquid inside even if the bottle breaks.

That style of liquor bags for traveling can be inflated to offer more protection:

And if that looks like it will take up too much room you could try this style:

These products are probably a good choice for the traveler that brings home an occasional bottle.

If you are more serious about traveling with alcohol then there is another level.

Pack Your Alcohol In An Alcohol Suitcase

If you fly with alcohol in your checked luggage and especially if you buy expensive bottles then you might want to consider an alcohol suitcase.

If you don’t need to pack socks or underpants…

If six bottles of wine is all you need…

Then maybe this is the suitcase for you:

I am joking of course.

If you learn to travel light it’s perfectly normal to pack all your clothes in your carry-on bag. That way you can fill your checked luggage with all the alcohol you are legally allowed to bring!

Remember Customs Limits If You Are Traveling Internationally

If you are traveling internationally you might be looking to pick up some duty-free alcohol.

One of the good things about buying duty-free is that you can buy it after you have cleared the airport security checked point and the Transportation Security Administration or foreign equivalent has already screened your hand luggage.

That means you can bring duty-free alcohol on the plane with you as hand luggage. If it is packed in a tamper-evident bag you’ll even be able to take it on a connecting flight.

But remember that there will be customs limits when you are traveling between different countries.

You need to check how much alcohol you are legally permitted to bring in to your destination country tax=free.

If you go over those limits you’ll need to declare your giggle juice and pay the tax.

The Bottom Line

The main danger when packing alcohol in a checked suitcase is breakages.

Baggage handlers are not known for being the most gentle creatures.

They work hard under time pressures to get aircraft loaded. So checked suitcases can sometimes be thrown around.

Your case should be packed full and not half-empty.

Keep any alcohol bottles in the center of the suitcase and away from the edges.

Make sure two glass bottles of alcohol cannot clink together.

It’s impossible to entirely eliminate the possibility that a bottle of alcohol will break in your checked baggage.

If you have time before your flight, invest in some form of leak-proof liquor bag. Or order some now so you will have them for the next flight!

Consider buying duty-free alcohol at the airport since you can keep that in your carry-on luggage where it will be safer.

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