If you want to bring beer on a plane on your next flight, there are a few things you need to be aware of, so you won’t run into any issues.
According to the TSA, if alcohol is less than 24% ABV or 48 proof, which beer is, then there is no limit in packing it in your checked bags.
If you want to bring beer on a plane in your carry on bags, the TSA’s 3-1-1 Rule applies, which means that any bottle or can of beer must be no larger than 3.4oz/100ml and comfortably fit into a single quart-sized bag.
In other words, bringing beer in your carry on bags is a no-go.
Let’s take a closer look at what the regulations are, including when flying internationally, when buying beer from duty-free shops at the airport, when you have a connecting flight, if you can drink your own beer on a plane, and more.
Bringing Beer in Your Checked Bags
The TSA states the following if you want to bring alcohol in your checked bags:
- If the alcohol is less than 24% ABV or 48 proof, there is no limit.
- If the alcohol is more than 24% but not more than 70% ABV (48 – 140 proof), you are limited to 5 liters (1.3 gallons)
- If the alcohol is over 70% ABV or over 140 proof, it isn’t allowed in either your carry on or checked bags
As you can see, as the vast majority of beer is less than 24% ABV or 48 proof, there is no limit when bringing beer on a plane in your checked bags.
So you can bring a 6-pack, 12-pack or any other quantity of beer in your checked bags without any problems.
Bringing Beer in Your Carry on Bags
As mentioned, the TSA have a rule that does not allow passengers to bring a container of liquid (as well as gels and aerosols) any greater than 3.4oz/100ml in their carry on.
This means that it will not be possible to bring beer on a plane in your carry on bags.
Domestic vs. International Flights
When flying internationally to and from any country, you are limited to containers of alcohol that are no larger than 3.40z/100ml in your carry on bags.
However, the rules can vary quite substantially if you want to pack beer in your checked bags.
- Mexico: You are allowed to carry up to 5 liters of alcohol. The alcohol must not exceed 70%.
- Canada: According to CATSA, if the alcohol is 24% or less, there are no limits; if the alcohol is between 24% and 70%, you are allowed 5 liters. Alcohol over 70% is not permitted.
- UK: According to Gov.uk, you can bring up to 42 liters of beer or 18 liters of (still) wine. When it comes to spirits and other liquors over 22% alcohol, you can bring up to 4 liters. Sparkling wine, fortified wine and other alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol are limited to 9 liters.
- The EU: According to EU regulations, when travelling within the EU, you are limited to 10 liters of spirits, 20 liters of fortified wine, 90 liters of wine (including 60 liters of sparkling wine), or 110 liters of beer.
When entering the EU from a non-EU country, you are limited to 4 liters of non-sparkling wine, 16 liters of beer, 1 liter of spirits or 2 liters of fortified or sparkling wine.
If you’re flying internationally, the good news is that you can either bring beer in unlimited quantities in your checked bags, or there will be a limit, though it will be very generous.
If travelling within the EU, the limit is 110 liters of beer, and when entering the EU from a non-EU country like the USA, the limit is 16 liters.
All airlines follow TSA regulations when it comes to bringing beer on a plane.
This includes Southwest, United, Delta, American Airlines, as well as all other major and regional air carriers.
What Are the Rules When Buying Duty-Free Alcohol?
If you buy alcohol, including beer, from a duty-free shop at the airport, it will be packed in security tamper-evident bags (STEBs).
This means that the alcohol is not allowed to be opened once purchased until after your flight.
You are also usually only allowed to bring one liter of duty-free alcohol into the USA, though this can vary by where you are coming from and the state you are flying into.
Can You Drink Your Own Beer on a Plane?
According to federal regulations, you are not allowed to bring your own beer on a plane and then drink it.
“FAA regulations prohibit passengers from drinking alcohol on board the aircraft unless it is served by the air carrier.”
The only alcohol that you are allowed to drink on a plane must be served by a flight attendant.
Can You Take Duty Free Beer on Connecting Flights?
Given the TSA’s 3-1-1 Rule, there can be a lot of confusion as to whether you are allowed to bring beer on a connecting flight.
After all, a lot of time, you will have to go through security again.
Thankfully, as long you have a connecting flight in the United States, beer is allowed in your carry-on bag as long as:
- The bottles are packed in a transparent, secure, tamper-evident bag by the retailer.
- You have the receipt to show that the beer was purchased within the last 48 hours.
Do You Have to Declare Beer When Bringing it Into the Country?
If you are returning to the USA, you are only allowed to bring up to 1 liter (0.26 gallon) of duty-free alcohol, including beer.
This applies when travelling from most destination to the USA, but when flying from certain destinations, including the Caribbean, you are usually allowed to bring a higher quantity of alcohol.
Note that if you bring more than 1 liter of alcohol, you must declare it and then pay any duty and federal excise taxes that are required.
How to Pack Beer When Flying
If you want to bring beer on a plane in your checked bags, you should:
- Place the bottles or cans in a plastic bag
- Wrap the bag in soft layers of clothing to provide cushioning
- Position the bottle in the center of your suitcase
This is even more important when packing bottled beer.
If you want to be absolutely sure that your alcohol will make it home in one piece, the Jet Bag is your best option.
Can You Bring Beer in Your Checked Bag If You’re Under 21?
As we’re sure you are aware, in the USA, you are not allowed to possess or drink alcohol if you are under 21.
The rules do not change when you’re flying.
So this means that you are not allowed to bring beer in your checked bag if you are under 21, even when flying to a country where the legal drinking age is lower.
While it’s very unlikely that you will be caught, keep in mind that it is still illegal, so it is not something that we would recommend.
Will Beer Cans Explode on a Plane?
If you’re worried that your beer will explode on a plane and ruin your clothing and belongings, don’t be.
Beer cans won’t explode on a plane because the cargo hold is pressurized, just like the cabin is.
The only thing you should worry about is packing the beer safely and securely with adequate padding.
This is because baggage handlers generally aren’t the most gentle of people, so your bags might get tossed around a lot.
Robert is an expert in commercial air travel with decades of experience in the travel industry, and has spent countless hours in airports and on planes for work.
Robert therefore has an unrivaled understanding of everything related to commercial air travel, and has been quoted or mentioned in major publications, such as Insider, Trip Savvy, ZDNet, and Bored Panda, showcasing his extensive knowledge and expertise in the field.