Know Before You Go: Guidelines for Traveling with Bottles and Liquids

If your dream vacation includes an air trip to the wine country or some other culinary adventure, you’ll want to know the rules and regulations to ensure your bottles can travel with you, and arrive in one piece. Most international air carriers and many countries modified their policies for liquids and bottles in carry-on hand luggage as of September 2006 when British and US Security deemed bottle contents to be a potential terrorist threat.

Government Air Travel Rules and Regulations

  • All US domestic flights as well as most international flights not just in and out of the United States now restrict large bottles (more than 3 fl oz) from being taken in carry-on luggage into the cabin. As a result, with the exception of identified medications, any amount of liquid greater than three ounces must be packed in your checked baggage.
  • In the United States, the FAA and TSA do not restrict the number of bottles that you can transport on a plane. Alcohol beverages with less than 24% alcohol content, such as wine and many spirits, are not subject to hazardous materials regulations. You may take up to five liters of alcohol with alcohol content between 24% and 70% per person in checked luggage if its packaged in a sealable bottle. However, you can’t take alcoholic beverages with more than 70% alcohol content (140 proof), including 95% grain alcohol and 150 proof rum, in your checked luggage. For more information on TSA regulations for traveling with alcohol, click here.
  • The TSA (Transport Security Administration) in the United States has strict guidelines for taking bottles and liquids – including sauces, syrups and alcohol – onto aircraft. This is known as the 3-1-1 rule (3 ounce bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger). You are required to declare any other liquids or gels associated with a disability or medical condition.

Travel Tips

  • Bottles in carry-on luggage, even if done so by accident, are confiscated at security check points. Few provisions, if any, are available for quickly packing and shipping bottles once in the airport. Most passengers report having to give up a good bottle or drink it before being allowed through security.
  • Airport security personnel will typically x-ray and, if necessary, manually inspect the contents of your checked luggage. Even if you took great care to wrap your bottles in clothing, there’s no guarantee that a TSA agent with a back log of bags to inspect will be as careful. With BottleWise, it’s easy to quickly zip the Bot’lPak back up and ensure the bottle stays safe throughout the flight.
  • Under normal conditions luggage compartments on modern aircraft are pressurized so there is no risk to bottles popping an unopened cap or cork. It is not recommended that you transport open or re-corked bottles.
  • Airlines do not provide compensation for damage to luggage contents created from spills or leaks. Passengers are generally advised to take the necessary precautions to protect bottles and other glass in their bags.
  • Some airlines have their own alcohol restrictions so it’s wise to check beforehand just to be safe. In addition, some States in the US restrict the transport of wine and alcohol so be sure to know the rules of your state before you fly.

International Flights & Duty Free

  • At many International Airports, bottles must be purchased from Duty Free 60-90 minutes before boarding your flight. These bottles will be delivered to you at the gate or at your destination. If you are transferring to a domestic flight in the United States those bottles need to be re-packed into your checked luggage upon arrival or will be confiscated by Security at the next check point. All US gateway airports require arriving international passengers to go through a domestic security check-point after immigration and customs.
  • More recently, Duty Free Shops in European airports and Duty Free Carts on-board many international airlines will sell you bottles in sealed bags. Most security checkpoints at large international airports will allow you to transfer through the airport with these special bags as long as they remain sealed.

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