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GUIDE: Taking Wine On A Plane (Carry On & Checked Luggage)

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Wine or liquor is a staple choice many travelers turn to when needing a gift for somebody unique back home or at the office. What if there is more than one wine lover on the gift list? Can you take wine on a plane, and how many bottles are you allowed in carry-on or checked luggage? 

According to TSA regulations, you can take unlimited wine in your check-in luggage, provided it is packaged correctly, and the ABV is less than 24%. Unopened wine can be taken in carry-on luggage provided it is 1 liter or less and can fit into a quart-sized bag. The allowance is 1 bag per passenger. 

Unfortunately, a bag per passenger is not a lot, but that’s the reality if you do last-minute wine shopping in the duty-free zone. You will have to abide by the carry-on rules. If you have enough time and can plan your shopping, taking wine with you will be much easier. Here is our guide on taking wine on a plane. 

Can You Take Wine On A Plane?
Can You Take Wine On A Plane?

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Can You Take Wine On A Plane?

You can take wine on a plane, provided you adhere to the strict TSA guidelines and rules. The TSA stands for Transport Security Agency, and they have authority over all modes of transportation that carry passengers in the USA. 

Wine is allowed to be a bottle of no more than 1 liter. A bottle that contains more, like a promotional size bottle, will be taxed. Typically, wine bottles are available in 750ml sizes and are universal. The 1-liter wine bottles are more scarce. 

Wine can be transported in one of three ways on a plane – In a sealed, clear quart-sized bag that you would get from the duty-free zone, in your carry-on luggage, or in the checked bag. 

Open Wine On A Plane

Taking open wine onto a plane is highly illegal. If you bought a bottle of wine from a shop before you arrived at the airport or at the duty-free zone, you may not open it on board the plane. Opening your wine onboard is considered an offense, and you may be liable for prosecution. 

You are not allowed to serve yourself wine or any other alcohol on a plane so that the hosts or hostesses can ensure passengers do not become intoxicated. It is difficult to manage intoxicated passengers on a plane, which can turn into a very traumatic experience. 

The only time you may open wine on a plane is the wine that is served to you by the airline staff or host or hostess on board. The wine is presented in small, 1-glass sized servings, and there is typically a limit per passenger. The air marshals deal with drunk and unruly passengers. 

Unopened Wine on a Plane

Taking unopened wine on a plane is perfectly fine and legal. There is a limit to 1 liter for wine below 24% ABV per passenger. The wine must fit into 1 clear, quart-sized bag to be allowed on board in your carry-on luggage. 

There should be no problem taking the bottle as long as you do not attempt to open the wine onboard. Make sure you package the wine in between some shirts to secure it during the flight. 

Does Flying With Wine Ruin It?

There is no evidence suggesting or proving that flying with wine will ruin it. As long as the wine remains sealed and away from any direct light source, it will be protected. The light strike is what happens when direct sunlight hits a bottle of wine, and the U.V. light reacts with the contents.

U.V. exposure may damage the wine and cause unpleasant smells to form. Airplane cabins are pressurized, so there is no chance the wine will be ruined during a flight. You shouldn’t worry that wine can explode in the cargo area unless it is sparkling wine. 

It is much colder in the cargo hold, so the wine will not be subjected to temperature fluctuations. 

TIP: Once you pop the cork, most wines go bad within a day or so. But a Coravin Wine Preservation system (available for a great price on Amazon) can extend the life of your opened wine for weeks or even months. It is awesome. You should check it out and see if it will fit into your lifestyle.

Can You Bring Wine On A Plane In A Checked Bag?

You can bring wine in a checked bag on most airlines. The TSA has very specific guidelines that outline the conditions for transporting wine in a checked bag in the USA. The ABV or alcohol by volume dictates the amount and size of the bottles you are permitted to transport. 

Anything over 70 % ABV  is prohibited on U.S. flights. Wines are usually between 6 – 14% ABV, and there is no limit on how many wine bottles you can take in your checked bag. You must be 21 years or older to carry wine or any other alcohol. The legal drinking age in all states in the USA is 21. 

Bottles that have not been labeled may be confiscated by the TSA or border patrol, so make sure you buy commercial wines that clearly indicate all the necessary information. 

TIP: To learn how to store white wine after opening, check out this article I wrote. To discover if wine fridges are only for storing white wine, check out this complete guide I wrote. And for a complete breakdown of how to store wine long-term in 8 simple steps, you need to read this guide I wrote.

Can You Fly With Wine In Carry-On Luggage

You can fly with wine in your carry-on luggage, but you are restricted to a limit? Each passenger can take containers that fit into a clear quart-sized zip-locked bag. Those containers should be 3.4oz of liquid or less.

This should not be a major issue if you did some last-minute duty-free shopping. Buying from a duty-free shop will guarantee they supply the correct type of bag mentioned in the TSA regulations. Only alcohol over 70% ABV may not be on a flight, whether in carry-on or checked-in luggage. 

Best Way To Carry Wine On A Plane

Best Way To Carry Wine On A Plane
Best Way To Carry Wine On A Plane

Each airline in the USA has different regulations over and above the TSA guidelines. It would be good to check with the airline you intend to fly with for an updated list of what is allowed. 

Typically, wine bottles need to be packaged securely if it is in your checked bag. If the wine is going to be in the carry-on luggage, it has to be in a tamper-proof sealed clear plastic bag.

Wines that are for carry-on must be bought within 48 hours before a flight, and you need to have the receipt on hand to prove the purchase. 

There are different duty-free rules for every country as well, so if you’re flying from an outside destination to the USA, it would be best to check if the rules and regulations are similar. Some airline policies are different from local or national governments, so it is crucial to be informed. 

The worst thing to happen is to buy expensive wine as gifts only to have them confiscated by the TSA or Airline staff. 

To carry wine in your checked luggage securely, you should make sure the bottles are padded and then wrapped in a clothing item. Hard suitcases are far better than the canvas type. Hard suitcases can handle the knocks and baggage handling far better. 

You can also put a bottle into a long sock and wrap the excess piece around the bottleneck for extra padding. Pack the wine bottles in the center of the suitcase and pad them with clothing on top. Other options are inflatable wine pockets or bags and bubble wrap. 

A good but less environmentally friendly choice is a polystyrene wine cylinder. They are a very popular choice to transport wine over long distances. The polystyrene keeps the wine temperature even and prevents any light from entering. 

TIP: I wrote this great article on how to store wine with a cork that you will certainly learn from. To learn how to store wine without a cork, then this article will be your resource.

Flying With Wine By Airlines

If you are going to fly domestic, there are several airlines you can choose. We take a look at their alcohol transportation guidelines. 

  • Delta Airlines Alcohol Transportation Guidelines state that wine will have to be 100ml and fit into a clear zip-locked quart-sized bag. If the wine was purchased in the duty-free zone, it is one bottle of 750ml in a sealed tamper-proof bag. 
  • Southwest Airlines Do not restrict passengers with the 5 liters of wine per person in the checked bag, provided it is packaged securely and shows the original labels. 
  • Alaska Airlines restrict passenger to 5 liters of alcohol if the ABV is 24% or more; however, there is no restriction on the amount of wine per passenger in the checked baggage, provided it is securely packaged. 
  • American Airlines restrict passengers to 5 liters of alcohol over 24% ABV, and there is no restriction on wines as they have an ABV below 24%. 

Below is a table indicating the amount of wine each passenger can take on board in carry-on luggage or checked-in luggage. Every airline prohibits the transportation of liquids, including wine, in excess of 100ml inside the carry-on luggage. 

AirlineCarry-OnChecked BagABV
Delta AirlinesNot PermittedUnlimitedUp to 24% 
Southwest AirlinesNot Permitted Unlimited  Up to 24% 
Alaska AirlinesNot Permitted Unlimited Up to 24% 
American AirlinesNot Permitted Unlimited Up to 24% 
Amount of wine for each passenger by Airlines

Flying With Wine By States

Within the USA, the airlines allow passengers the freedom to fly with an unlimited number of wine bottles in the checked bag, provided the baggage stays within the weight limit. Usually, airlines allow 1 to 2 pieces of checked baggage per passenger, depending on the seat class. 

Some states exercise stricter alcohol rules, such as Kansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi, known as dry states. The sale of alcohol was prohibited in these states for a long time, and there are still many of those laws in effect today.

It would be good to familiarize yourself with local state and county laws to avoid hefty fines and the possibility of prosecution and a criminal record on your name. Call the local government authority or the tourist information board to get up-to-date information if you are unsure of any laws. 

Below is a table to show the airlines and their allowance for wine in checked luggage when flying between states in the domestic USA:

Airline – DomesticCarry-OnChecked BagABV
Delta Airlines Not Permitted Unlimited Up to 24% 
Southwest AirlinesNot Permitted Unlimited Up to 24% 
Alaska AirlinesNot Permitted Unlimited Up to 24 % 
American Airlines Not Permitted Unlimited Up to 24%
Flying with wine on US domestic flights

TIP: If you want to learn how long wine takes to freeze, check out this article I wrote. Likewise, check out this article to learn what to do if you leave a bottle of wine overnight in a freezing car.

Flying With Wine International To Canada And Mexico 

Flying with wine into international territories presents a different set of rules. For example, you may fly with more than 5 liters of wine in your checked baggage within Canada, but you are only allowed to bring 1.5 liters of wine into the country if you return after 48 hours. You must declare the wine.

If you exit Canada and return after 7 days, you may still only bring back 1.5 liters of wine or 2 bottles, and you must declare the wine on entry. Even if the TSA rules state you may take unlimited wine in your checked baggage, the Canadian rules are much more strict. 

As a tourist entering Canada with more than 2 bottles of wine, you will be liable to pay duties or a fine if you did not declare the wine.  

Traveling to Mexico on any of the airlines will allow you to take the same amount of wine in your checked baggage. Mexican authorities allow passengers to bring in 5 bottles of wine, securely packaged and unopened. No wine is permitted in the carry-on luggage. 

Purchasing wine in the international duty-free zone allows passengers to take 1 bottle in a clear, tamper-proof bag, and it must include a receipt to prove the purchase. If you already have 5 bottles in your checked bag, you will not be allowed to keep the duty-free bottle when entering either country.

Below is a table to indicate the allowances by airlines when flying internationally to Mexico and Canada. Again, country laws will supersede airline rules and regulations. 

Airline – InternationalMexicoCanadaBaggage
Delta Airlines5 liters 1.5 liters or 2 bottles Checked Baggage
Southwest Airlines5 liters 1.5 liters or 2 bottles Checked Baggage 
Alaska Airlines5 liters 1.5 liters or 2 bottlesChecked Baggage
American Airlines 5 liters 1.5 liters or 2 bottles Checked Baggage 
Flying with wine on flights to Canada and Mexico

Conclusion

When you fly locally or internationally, a good tip is always to check the specific airline’s guide to prohibited or restricted goods. Being prepared and knowledgeable when traveling will save you time and remove stress. 

Wine makes excellent gifts for friends and family, and most domestic airlines in the USA are accommodating with taking wine on board in checked-in baggage. Many airlines sell special wine packaging for under ten dollars at the airport counters to assist you in transporting the wine safely onboard.

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