All your questions about boozing in the clouds answered.

Can you bring alcohol, specifically liquor, on a plane?

Yes. Per the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), travelers can bring alcohol — liquor or otherwise — as long as the bottles are unopened and placed in a sealed bag. While alcohol can’t exceed 70 percent (140 proof) in checked luggage, the TSA doesn’t state a proof-limit for carry-on booze.

In general, be sure to check the laws of your destination—some countries, like Kuwait, forbid passengers from entering the country with alcohol.

This baby bottle is all the liquid you can bring on an airplane, making liquor the only realistic carrying choice.
3.4 ounces of a Heineken or Cab, anyone?

How many ounces of alcohol can you carry on an airplane?

You can bring as many 3.4-ounce (100 mL) bottles that will fit comfortably into “one, quart-sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag.”

Mini liquor bottles—a.k.a. airplane shooters—are 1.7 ounces.

By “comfortably,” the TSA, means that “the bag will seal without busting at the seams.” There is a limit of one plastic bag per passenger. So, you could bring wine or beer on a plane but would be better off leaving it in your checked bag due to the 3.4-ounce restriction.

If you've brought your own alcohol on a plane, don't even think about opening it yourself; that's illegal!
Kahlua or Baileys mini-liquor bottles make for a superb boozy coffee at 30,000 feet.

Can you open your own alcohol on an airplane?

While you can bring alcohol on board with you, don’t crack it open mid-flight.

Code of Federal Regulations 121.575 states that:

“No person may drink any alcoholic beverage aboard an aircraft unless the certificate holder operating the aircraft has served that beverage to him.”

Some airlines may impose stricter guidelines at their discretion so it’s worth checking with the airline ahead of your flight.

Can you buy duty-free alcohol and then bring it onboard the airplane?

As of January 31st, 2014, TSA has allowed duty-free alcohol to be transported in carry-on luggage. This overruled previous TSA regulation, which said that duty-free alcohol had to be packed in one’s checked baggage. Before you go merrily stuffing your bag with your handle of Beefeater Gin to enjoy on the flight, you probably won’t be allowed to drink it. But you can bring it if you meet the following requirements:

  • The duty-free liquids were purchased internationally and you are traveling to the United States with a connecting flight.
  • The liquids are packed in a transparent, secure, tamper-evident bag by the retailer and do not show signs of tampering when presented to TSA for screening.
  • The original receipt for the liquids is present and the purchase was made within 48 hours

Can you bring alcohol in a checked bag?

Yes. According to TSA, travelers may check up to five liters of alcohol, as long as the alcohol content is between 24 percent and 70 percent (140 percent), and it’s packed in a sealable bottle or flask. If you’re traveling between European countries, the EU allows ten liters of spirits per checked bag. If you’re entering the EU from a non-EU country, you can bring in four liters of still wine, sixteen liters of beer, and one liter of spirits or two liters of fortified or sparkling wine.

Can you get drunk on a plane?

Yes, and no. While there is technically no limit on how many drinks can be served to a passenger, flight attendants have the right to refuse alcohol to anyone they deem to be too drunk.

And don’t think that your behavior can’t land you in cuffs. A BBC Panorama investigation reported more than 387 people were arrested for being drunk on a plane in 2016–2017 in the U.K., up 250 from the previous year. Because cases of arrest often involve abuse of the cabin crew, some airlines are looking to take a stricter stance. Ryanair, for instance, is calling for a limit of two drinks per passenger, as well as urging airports to ban the sale of alcohol before 10 a.m.

Do international flights serve free alcohol?

Most airlines won’t serve free alcohol during domestic flights (sans business-class passengers). However, the majority of airlines do serve complimentary booze on international flights.

What is the drinking age on international flights?

On most flights, the drinking age is consistent with the country in which the airline is registered. So if you’re flying the Icelandic discount airline WOW air, the drinking age would be 20. However, there are exceptions. Air Canada, for instance, allows the consumption of alcohol by minors if consent is provided by a parent or guardian accompanying them. This rule only applies to international flights. Verify the guidelines of the airline you’re flying to know whether or not you can drink alcohol during your flight.

Recharge on your next layover with a room for a few hours.

Image Credits:

Featured image by Russel James Smith via (CC BY-2.0)

“Baby Bottle” by Lisa Johnson from Burst

“Austrian Airlines” via Wikicommons

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Molly Gelpke

Molly is a writer and traveller currently based in Montreal, but who will probably be somewhere new by next month. Find her—with a coffee in one hand and a book in the other—at your local, free-WiFi-supplying café.