How To Bring Alcohol On A Plane

How To Bring Alcohol On A Plane

Tired of paying $7 for a single serving of Jack Daniels on American Airlines? Let The Drunk Pirate show you how to bring alcohol on a plane.

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 how to bring alcohol on a plane.

I’ve successfully taken my own liquor on an airplane no less than a dozen times and have never been questioned. And I’ve done it on every airline in several major cities.

How I Learned How To Bring Alcohol On a Plane

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 idea I’ve ever had.

According to the TSA, 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.

Getting Alcohol through the Security Check

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 airline—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, some flight attendees get all pissy when they see you with your own booze. So keep it hidden.



  1. Bronson says

    Amber, it’s only flammable once you start getting into the high proof liquor. Your standard 80 proof (40% by volume) will not ignite even when touched with an open flame.

  2. barbara says

    I love this. I love the way you wrote it. I love the way you are an admitted drunk ass flyer. I love that you got all scared and shit going through security. I love that you successfully made it through security. And I love how proud you were of yourself for doing it. I’m getting ready to go on an international flight myself and have wondered… hmmmm…. should I risk bringing my own alcohol on board a South African Air flight??? Those folks don’t mess around. Last thing I need is to pay $5,000 for a trip only to end up in a South African jail for my dumbshit antics. Nonetheless, I like to live dangerously, so I am going to try this shit out. I will report back in the not too distant future as my trip is right around the bend.

  3. me says

    amber, 80 proof isn’t. at least, not very. it will light on fire, but so will spaghetti

  4. mark says

    I have done this through Denver, Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, Memphis, Minneapolis and Puerto Rico. Always has gone off without a hitch. Only close time was when the x-rayer called over his supervisor and the supervisor looked at my bag of goodies, asked his employee if it was in a quart bag, the guy said yes and the supervisor said “then send it on through.” TSA doesn’t work for the airlines and doesn’t give a shit about anyone eating into their profits. Do hide it on the plane though, some flight attendants can make your life hell if you piss them off in the right way.

  5. Eels says

    This is one of those things that, in practice seem insanely obvious but your brain just passes over.
    Good work, I’ll have to give this a whirl.

  6. Timw says

    Barbara, I hope yor SAA travels went well. I’ve flown with them internationally and domestic and they always had free beer, wine and liquor for all classes. So unless things have changes with them in the last 5 years I would drink on their dime and recoup some of my airfare price.

  7. Zip says

    Do these have to be in a quart size bag going through the scanner? Could you just load up your safari jacket with them? If you sent the safari jacket through the scanner, say, with 100 little bottles of your favorite intoxicant, would TSA poop and bust you? Would that violate the rules?

    I never fly but am about to. I need some educashion on all this TSA stuff.

  8. Johan says

    So does sealed mean that it would have to be an unopened bottle? I wouldn’t think so since if you are putting whiskey in a mini Listerine bottle, you obviously have to open it to do so.

  9. Lauren says

    Take the little bottles of liquor through TSA and then at the shops in the airport buy your mixers and before you get on the plan, mix your liquor and the mixer together.. ask the flight attendant for ice.. they won’t know the difference.

  10. says

    Love it! My friends fly all the time and are ney Sayers when I told them I have 10 vodkas in my 1 quart. I was a bit scared until I saw this thread. I’ll confirm when I fly to key west tomorrow. Nothing better than boozing at 30k ft!
    Thanks for the info

  11. Nubianteacher says

    Great story!!! I have totally done the same thing…except with wayyyyy more alcohol! First time I did it, I flew to New Orleans from Atlanta with a quart bag full of mini-bottles (at least 25-30) and didn’t get stopped by anyone! We had a ball on that flight…last flight I had, did the same thing, but when I pulled out a bottle in front of the flight attendant, she was NOT having it! So now the lesson has been learned…you can bring it, but sneak it when ur ready to drink!!

  12. jz says

    Couldn’t you just place a 5 liter bottle in the checked luggage. Then once out of security…move it to your carry on bag?

  13. Age says

    Awesome article! I felt as though I was going through that roller coaster of emotions with you!! I never gave a thought to the fact that I ALWAYS bring alcohol on the plane until others started to question me and make me feel all nervous about it. That’s how I happened upon your little gem…googling to see if it’s legal to do it. I have boldly brought alcohol onto planes from the following airports (and by boldly, I mean sometimes they are just in the bottom of my purse or a pocket in my backpack): SAN, LAX, SDF, TPA, ORD, SXM, MDW, MCO and LAS. I order a ginger ale from the cart, add my bourbon and ENJOY THE HELL OUTTA MY FLIGHT! Woot!

  14. Nate says

    I loved reading your article! I found it while Googling. I am traveling to Sweden in June and will definitely be doing this! Thanks a lot for the tips! :) Bottoms up!

  15. Ingrid says

    I love your post, James! Greatest conversational post ever! I am going to Panama in less than a week. Will be doing this with my husband. 10 for me and 10 for him on a long ass 5 hour flight. Cheers!!!

  16. Christina says

    Best. Advice. Ever. People have told me that this can be done but, being the skeptic that I am, and bound for Salt Lake City this weekend, and also not a fan of flying (hence the need for booze), I was thrilled to find this amongst my research! I will likely require some liquid toiletries for the trip but I will, without a doubt, be leaving room for some of these little babies!! (And the tip about premixing them with a soda, etc. before getting on the plane was a definite bonus!!) Thanks, folks!!

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  18. jimbo says

    Better not too many people do it or the National Airline Association (or whatever name the pricks have) will lobby congress to change the law to not allow alcohol!

  19. Real says

    If you get a stern talking to by your Flight attendant, tell him/her that he/she is right in that it is their duty to control the alcohol consumption and that it is not for profit reasons. Hand him/her your bottles and ask him/her to serve you in accordance with the rules.

  20. TommyP says

    Worked fine 11-26-2014. Brought 2 mini Beams in my ziploc bag, went through security (took my deodorant… Oops) and not a word was said about it. Found the first Coke machine by my gate, dumped half in the water fountain across the way and dumped the minis on in. Enjoyed before boarding. I hate flying. This was at GSP to ORD united. Will be doing the same thing at O’Hare on my way back. Enjoy!

  21. Eckel says

    The story is a hoot! and Informative. Many thanks to you!
    We are flying int Salt Lake City this Christmas eve. Any experience with packing nice wine into packed baggage fying from SFO arriving to Salt Lake???

    Thanks …

  22. Sky Goddess says

    Just a word to the wise. As a Flight Attendant for over 12yrs I can tell u that we are not stupid we know when people are sneaking alcohol to drink . Those of us who’ve been in the business for a long time know all the tricks.You can be arrested and charged if a Flight Attendant catches you or another passenger tells us about it and you’re rude and nasty about putting it away or continue to sneak and drink it. We operate under Federal Laws I’ve seen people get pulled off and arrested the fines can be huge!. As a drinker myself I know how irritating it is on a long flight to have to keep paying for drinks but the alternative could be much worse.

  23. Olivia says

    I am about to fly out of Jacksonville tomorrow and would love to try this. When going through security do you have to take the bag out and put it in a bin where its in plain sight?

  24. pilar says

    Dude you r a f’n rock star! We travel to Mexico once a month from November to May. Now, we start our vacation while waiting to board our plane and are pretty much hammered before we even arrive! Being a travel day, it’s nice to get to the resort and take a quick nap and then continue our drinking activities until we get home. Nice to not be sober for a full 8 days!

  25. Stuart says

    I prepour my Vodka into those tiny little 5-Hour Energy drink bottles. They zip straight through in my carry on bag. Once on board the plane order up an orang juice, tomato juice & make a discrete pour and you are well on your way. Key word is discretion. Airlines hate giving up the filthy stinking rich profits they make from selling these tiny vodka’s at 1000% mark up. I have done this successfully out of Burbank, Los Angles, Las Vegas, Boston, Salt Lake City & Orlando. Usually pack 4 or 5 and never have been challenged. Works on SouthWest, Delta, JetBlue, etc.

  26. Starla Cochran says

    This is so helpful! Are you guys leaving the alcohol in the original bottles or disguising them in something else?


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