Flying with Wine – TSA Alcohol Rules and Regulations

The Flight Was Great But Did the Wine Get There?


As we approach the beginning of the holiday travel season, the perennial question resurfaces: I will be traveling, but will my wine get there? The answer is unequivocally: MAYBE.

The fact is that today with the correct preparation, there should be no difficulty traveling with wine. First and foremost you should never arrive at the airport without a printed copy of the TSA rules on flying with alcohol specifically the rules are as follows:

“Carrying Alcohol In Your Checked Baggage: Please note, you can’t take alcoholic beverages with more than 70 percent alcohol content (140 proof), including 95 percent grain alcohol and 150 proof rum, in your checked luggage.

“You may take up to five liters of alcohol with alcohol content between 24 percent and 70 percent per person as checked luggage if it’s packaged in a sealable bottle or flask. Alcoholic beverages with less than 24 percent alcohol content are not subject to hazardous materials regulations”

In other words, since wine has less than a 24% alcohol content it is not subject to hazardous materials regulations and you are therefore not limited to checking only 5 liters. That being said many people have complained that the TSA representatives were not aware of the regulations and that is why you must carry a copy of the regulations with you.

The other hurdle that you must jump through is the individual airline rules which differ from airline to airline. For your convenience we are listing the websites for some of the more popular airlines:

American Airlines
Continental Airlines
Delta Airlines
Southwest Airlines
United Airlines

United Airlines for example, says it has no limit on the quantity of wine but the wine must be shipped in a “Styrofoam-type” insert. Continental Airlines also states that it has no limit on shipping wine, it says: “All alcoholic beverages must be packed to prevent breakage. Continental shall not be liable for breakage or spillage of alcoholic beverages. Normal checked baggage allowance limits, excess fees and carry-on limits apply”. It would be prudent not to rely on the knowledge of the baggage handlers or the ticketing personnel when shipping your wine. Take the time to print out the specific requirements for shipping wine from the website of the airline of your choice. Clearly carrying these rules and regulations is not foolproof, but it is a necessary precaution that has helped other travelers in the past to facilitate having their wine arrive safely at their destination.

If you are purchasing your wine directly from a vineyard, many are equipped to package your wines for you in Styrofoam containers to accommodate the airline rules which incidentally are also the recommended rules for Fed Ex and UPS. Fed Ex does not allow you, a consumer, to ship wine. You must be a licensed wholesaler, dealer, etc.
Wishing you and your wine safe travels during the holiday season and throughout the year!

Published in: on December 8, 2008 at 5:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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