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Can You Bring Alcohol on a Plane?

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. | Last updated on

As millions of Americans prepare to travel by air during the upcoming holiday season, long lines and delayed flights are poised to grate on travelers' nerves.

But travelers who may be hoping to offset their holiday stress by packing a bottle of their favorite libation in their luggage should be aware of the TSA's rules regarding transporting special items such as alcohol.

Can you bring your own alcohol on a plane?

TSA Alcohol Rules

The good news for those who want to bring their own booze is that the TSA does allow travelers to bring alcohol on planes, both in carry-on luggage and in checked baggage. However, there are specific rules for both.

In carry-on bags, alcohol in bottles three-ounces-or-less in size may be included with other liquids in one quart-sized clear, plastic, zip-top bag. It's no coincidence that many major alcohol brands sell 50ml "airplane" bottles, which work perfectly for this purpose. Conceivably, you can bring as many of these bottles as you can fit with your other liquids into your single zip-top bag.

Larger bottles can be placed in your checked luggage. However, the TSA does not allow alcohol with alcohol content higher than 70% (140 proof) in checked baggage. An individual may carry up to five liters of alcohol of between 24% and 70% alcohol volume in their checked luggage as long as it is in sealable bottles or flasks. Alcohol with less than 24% alcohol content is not subject to these regulations.

The TSA also notes that any alcohol purchased after clearing the security checkpoint is permitted onboard aircraft.

Drinking on the Plane

Just because you can bring alcohol on the plane doesn't necessarily mean you can drink it. According to the Code of Federal Regulations "No person may drink any alcoholic beverage aboard an aircraft unless the certificate holder operating the aircraft has served that beverage to him."

This means that unless you bought your alcohol from the in-flight drink cart, you may be breaking federal law if you decide to pour your own in-flight cocktail.

For more legal travel tips check out FindLaw's Learn About the Law section on Travel Rules and Rights.

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