Tired of paying $7 for a single serving of Jack Daniels on American Airlines?
I fly constantly – and drink constantly – and I know what I’m talking about when it comes to how far you can stretch the TSA guidelines on bringing your own alcohol on a plane.
I’ve successfully taken my own liquor on an airplane no less than a dozen times and never been questioned. And I’ve done it on every airline in several major cities.
Here’s how I did it:
About a year ago I was getting packed up to fly from Tampa International to San Francisco for a trade show. On the way to the airport I happened to stop at a convenience store that just happened to have a liquor store next to it.
They had some cool shit in the window display so I went in to see if they had anything I couldn’t live without. Usual stuff, but as I was walking past the friendly Indian man (dot, not feathers) I noticed the bargain bin of $.99 single-serving liquor bottles. You know, the kind they serve on a plane.
At that moment 15 different facts converged on the few working brain cells I haven’t managed to kill and created the single best logical idea I’ve ever had.
TSA states that you may carry ANY NON FLAMMABLE liquid on a commercial airliner that is in a SEALED container that is less than 3 fluid ounces. This entire bin of non-flammable liquids were sealed and less than 3 ounces….this flight was going to be epic.
I went through my mental checklist of the usual mixers in a standard beverage cart and chose 10 bottles accordingly – Jack. Smirnoff. Captain Morgan. The gang was all here and ready for wheels up in less than two hours.
Security Check Time
Like a good – and seasoned – passenger I placed all my less-than-3-ounce liquids in a clear plastic bag as not to rile the TSA gestapo. I had to go to el bano when we first got to the airport so I told the rest of my group to go ahead and I would catch up with them.
After taking care of some paperwork I headed to the security checkpoint feeling like a drug mule expecting to get tackled by some plain clothes, dragged into an unmarked room and cavity searched by some staunch lady with eczema and big fingers.
Shoes off, belt off, computer out of bag, toiletries in a clear bag and a plastic bag with 10 plastic bottles of 80 proof. All nestled in uniform grey plastic bins. I sent them through the xray machine, got scatter scanned myself and waited on the other end.
One-by-one each bin came out. No one even looked at me. Fuckin A.
I gathered my shit as fast as I could and headed to the monorail that would take me to the gate. That’s when I ran into trouble.
I got to the gate and didn’t see anyone I was traveling with. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even see the sign for the right airline. I had gone to the wrong concourse. FML.
I got back on the monorail, went back to the gate entry, put roots on the dumb bitch at the entrance who checked my ticket but neglected to tell me I was going to the wrong concourse and headed to the correct concourse…and another security checkpoint.
This was it. I was about to find out if my theory was sound or if the first TSA xray tech was just being cool and I was about to go to airport jail for trying to sneak my own alcohol onto a plane.
I did the whole shoes, belt, bags thing again and walk through another scatter scanner. As I waited on the other end I saw the TSA person in charge of the xray scanner stop for a second, lean in and the give his best Obama “not bad” face. My bins came out lined up like Rockettes. I had successfully recreated my experiment and proven my theory. At least in Tampa anyway.
On The Plane
You could have given me the seat next to the guy who just found out he had cured AIDS and he wouldn’t have been prouder of himself as I was of myself. I had successfully smuggled $100 in airline-value alcohol on a commercial airliner – completely within the guidelines of the TSA.
I would go on to successfully carry excessive amounts of alcohol through TSA security checkpoints in San Francisco, New York, Jacksonville, San Antonio, Portland, New York, Chicago and Nashville.
It should be noted though, there are some flight attendees that get all pissy when they see you with your own booze. So keep it hidden.