Flying With Wine Confidently: How To Check-In Wine On Flights?

How-To Guides

Luggage with wine bottle and glasses


Do you want to bring home a special bottle of wine as a souvenir or perhaps give it to a friend? Whatever your reason might be, it is allowed to bring wine with you on a plane. 

Flying with wine bottles is easy as long as you follow the rules set by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). They only allow 3.4 oz for hand luggage, and typically there is no limit for checked baggage.

Read this article to get more information about flying with wine before you book that flight.

Can You Bring Wine on a Plane?

Yes, you may bring your wine on a plane, as long as you are of legal age. The rules also depend on where you place your wine. For carry-ons, the TSA has a 3-1-1 regulation for liquids, including wine.

This means that you can only bring a maximum of 3.4 oz or 100 mL of wine in a single 1-quart bag. This rule applies to wines that have less than 70% alcohol content. Anything above that is not allowed.

Since a wine bottle is 26 oz or 750 mL and a glass of wine is 5 oz, you would not be able to bring much at all. So flying with wine in a carry-on is not something that we recommend you to do.

However, after checking in, you may buy a wine from the duty-free shop in the airport, and you can place it inside your hand luggage. TSA’s 3-1-1 only applies at the security checkpoint.

How to Check-in Wine on FlightsWine bottle opposite the porthole

Can I check in wine at the airport? Yes, you may. TSA allows flying with wine in checked luggage. However, the amount of wine that you may bring depends on the wine’s alcohol content. 

  • Wines with less than 24% alcohol or 48 proof

The alcohol concentration in wines is typically below 24%, so this is applicable for most wines.  TSA did not set any limit for the wines that you can bring through checked luggage.

However, you might pay an extra fee if you exceed the allowed weight for your luggage. You might also need to pay taxes depending on your destination. The United States would charge tax if you brought more than 1L of wine from a foreign country.

  • Wines between 24%-70% alcohol or 48-140 proof

A high alcohol concentration in wine is uncommon. But if you have this type of wine and want to fly with it, you can only bring a maximum of 5L. TSA also requires it to be in unopened retail packaging.

Alcohols that have a higher concentration than 70% are not allowed in carry-on and checked luggage.

Flying with Wine Bottles Internationally

It is possible to bring wine on international flights as long as you are 21 years old or older.

But be sure to check first with your airline and the country’s laws you plan to go to.

As mentioned earlier, the United States charges about 3% tax for more than 1L of wine from other countries. However, if you came from a Caribbean country or the U.S. Virgin Islands, you can carry more.

Foreign countries might also have a similar policy, so be sure to check with their customs department first. It is best to declare that you brought wine when you reach the Global Entry Kiosk, or you may write it in your customs form. Specify how much wine you are carrying. 

If it is below or near the exception, you will be able to pass through. But if it is above the exception, you will have to pay a fee, usually 4% of the wine’s price. Ensure that your wine bottle is labeled correctly.

Will Wine Freeze During Travel?

Wine freezes when exposed to temperatures below its freezing point, which is typically 22°F or -5.6°C. Suppose you’re not traveling to Alaska or another place with a snowy climate. In that case, you don’t have to worry about your wine freezing. 

The insulation from your clothes or the wine bag will also prevent it from freezing. However, if you are traveling to a place similar to Alaska, we recommend having your wine shipped professionally.

But if you choose to risk putting wine in your luggage or your bags have been delayed, check the quality of the bottle’s cork or stopper. You’ll know that your wine froze if the cork or stopper is slightly pushed out. For a situation like this, it would be helpful if you have a wine preservation system.

Will Wine Bottles Explode on a Plane?

You don’t have to worry about the bottle exploding when flying with wine because they pressurize the cargo area and control the temperature inside the plane.

However, your wine bottle might break if the baggage handler throws around your luggage. That’s why it’s necessary to secure your wine in the suitcase.

How to Pack Your Wine in a SuitcaseSmall blue suitcase with a large pink suitcase

Flying with wine bottles is uncomplicated as long as you properly pack the drink in your luggage, preventing them from breaking or leaking. This process is also essential to avoid the freezing of your wine when traveling to ice-cold places.

Here is what you should do to carefully pack the wine in your luggage and keep it secure.

What You’ll Need

Directions

  1. Wrap the bottle of wine in bubble wrap.
  2. Place it inside a ziplock bag. 
  3. Cover the ziplock bag with another bubble wrap.
  4. Place your clothes inside the hard side suitcase.
  5. Pack the bottle tightly in between your clothes and in the middle of the suitcase. Make sure that it has no space to move around so its neck won’t snap.
  6. Put the shoes or other firm things between the wine bottle and the edges of the case to serve as a protective barrier.

Pro Tip: You can also use wine diapers to minimize the impacts and vibrations in your wine bottles.

Here is a video about packing wine in your luggage and how to safely transport it:

Flying with Wine Packing and Luggage Tips

  • Choose a Hard Side Suitcase

Hard side suitcases are more expensive, but they can endure more impact and damage. 

Meanwhile, soft suitcases can get dented or pushed in.

So in the hands of a baggage handler, a wine bottle will have a better chance when it’s inside a hard side suitcase.

  • Have a Wine Travel Bag

If you have no bubble wrap or want to ensure that your wine bottle will not break, you should consider having a wine travel bag.

Wine travel bags are reusable and do not take up much space when they’re empty. They are also light, typically weighing less than 2 ounces.

To help you choose the right wine travel bag, you should look for the following:

  • Absorbent pads
  • Cushion-like material
  • Reusable non-adhesive seal
  • Non-transparent material
  • No sharp edges

Other alternatives are wine diapers, wine sleeves, and packing cubes.

  • Use a Fragile StickerFragile sticker on a box

Most of the time, when people see items with fragile stickers, they take better care of them. That’s why it would be a great idea to place a fragile sticker on your luggage, so baggage handlers will not throw around your suitcase when flying with wine bottles.

  • Check for Insurance

You can ask the airline or your credit card if they have insurance options for wine. Some airlines provide insurance when you check in your wine bottle inside a cardboard box with styrofoam, but others may not.

Don’t Drink Wine While Inside the PlanePassenger on the plane drinking wine

Even though flying with wine bottles is allowed, drinking on the plane isn’t. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) considers this illegal and will charge you with a high fine.

If a flight attendant sees you, he/she will intervene, and the local police might even be alerted after the arrival. However, JetBlue is an exception to this. If you are sober and politely ask their flight attendant, he/she will serve your alcohol in a wine glass.

Don’t Drink Your Wine Yet When You Reach Home Man drinking red wine

I know you might be excited to drink your wine as soon as you get home, but hold off on that bottle opener and corkscrew for a while. Your wine might suffer from bottle sickness or temporary bottle shock, meaning its taste may temporarily be muted. 

Let it stand for 1-2 weeks, and it will return to its normal state. The causes of bottle shock are unknown, but the components of wine might be negatively affected due to shaking and heat.

However, not all wines are affected by bottle shock. Younger wines recover quickly, while older wines and those with heavy sediments are slower to recover.

Conclusion

Flying with wine bottles is a mystery to some, and learning how to do this correctly can be beneficial, especially for those who want to take home a souvenir or bring a rare bottle to a friend or family.

There are many other reasons why someone wants to check-in wine at the airport, but what is important is that you pack it tightly and follow the airline’s rules and your destination country’s customs regulations.

Have you tried flying with wine bottles? Do you have some tips or tricks for flying with wine in checked luggage that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments. You can also share this article with other wine enthusiasts who love to travel.


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  • Shiv K.Kapur on

    This was an article with good and practical suggestions !


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