How To: Legally Smuggle Alcohol onto a Plane

SnowBrains |

Alcohol is expensive on almost any flight.  Remember when flying used to be fun?  Free food, free booze, blankets, pillows, nice flight attendants?  Those days are over, at least with USA airlines.

Thus, we’ve gotta be intelligent in the ways we approach flying.  If we go into it knowing that it’s a rough ride, we’ll be better off.  We’ll be even betterer off if we learn a few tricks to make flying fun again.  Here is one that can pay off big and make you feel like you’re getting away with something:

Hopefully, your flying to Tahiti
Hopefully, you’re flying to Tahiti

“Take Alchohol to Drink on Your Flight”

I first had a discussion with a TSA supervisor about this a couple of months back. My clarifying question was in regards to the 1 qt bag of liquids you are allowed to take through security. The rule is that you can take as many containers (less than 3 oz each) that you can fit in a 1 qt Ziploc style bag. I then specifically asked if alcohol was allowed. The answer was a resounding “Yes!” In fact, he was enthusiastic about it.

The moment of truth came when I went through the TSA security checkpoint at XNA. I pulled my computer out of my bag, took off my shoes, then reached in and grabbed my 1 qt dream bag. I put it into its own bin, skittishly looked around to see if Tasers we’re being drawn, then moved to the full body scanner. As I walked by the TSA Agent at the scanner, he smiled at me and said, “I like your liquid bag.” I smiled back, more in relief than joy.


I then moved through the scanner, collected my computer, shoes and 500 ml of fun. I asked another Agent if I could take photos and he gave me permission.

So, there you have it. At least for now, you are allowed to take bottles of alcohol that are 3 oz or less through security, as long as they fit in your 1 qt bag.

Some Quick Tips:

  1. Bottles cost around $7 on the flight, but around $2.50 at a liquor store.
  2. The variety offered at a liquor store will far surpass that on the flight, so you can get the brand you prefer.
  3. Once you buy and use the 50 ml travel bottles, save them so you can refill them later. The refill will cost you around $1 each, based on a $20 1L bottle of alcohol.
  4. There are 88.7 ml in 3 oz. Therefore, you can actually buy 3 oz travel shampoo containers and get more liquor per container, but not necessarily more per bag. The 50 ml travel size is the largest standard size that meets the < 3 oz criteria.

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6 thoughts on “How To: Legally Smuggle Alcohol onto a Plane

  1. It is absolutely correct that the small bottles of liquor will pass without TSA batting an eye. I had 3 vodkas & 2 Jack Daniels in my quart bag, along with my moisturizer and toothpaste. I was very discreet and added them to my complimentary tomato juice and cola. If this is against regulations, there were absolutely NO rules posted or listed anywhere, nor were any announcements made. If it is a problem, then this should be added to pre-flight announcements. I did not get drunk, but I was pleasantly buzzed for my 7 hour trip. I also brought my own snacks. I had a lovely trip.

  2. Great idea.
    As a starving college student Years before 9/11 (when you could drink at 18LOL) I used to carry
    1 or 2 of these mini-bottles on the plane!

  3. Bring it, definitely, but coming from a Flight Attendant… Please do not drink it. It is not just airline regulations, but Federal legislation that prohibits this. It would be way too long to explain all the nuances of why, so here’s a tip instead: Be extra nice to the flight attendant who has the discretion to comp you a drink instead. Happy flying!

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