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.
so many Judy Hensler’s in here. yeah – dont get caught pouring your own drink on a plane. before you board, get a bottle of coke, go to the bathroom and pour the booze into the bottle then board. the best part is it gives you something to drink well before they bring the beverage cart out
Experianced travler says
Getting it through TSA is the easy part, pouring on the plane can be the issue. Advice…once through TSA go to your favorite vendor and get the large gulp and proceed to mix yourself a very large coctail that will last for hours. Other option is to take a good wiskey, bourbon or rye with you and then make multiple trips to the restroom. Once consumed fill the bottle with water, wipe clean the exterior of all finger prints and then flush. With the water in it they sink, and by claening exterior…no finger print to trace back to you when the system backs up, because you flushed a dozen bottle that plugged up the system and grounded the plane.
“….In short, this means that passengers are not allowed to consume alcohol that they personally brought aboard the plane on any flight required to follow FAA regulations. Think of the plane like a bar with a roving bar cart. You can’t drink your own alcohol in a bar, and you can’t do it on a plane, either (even if you have those little plane-friendly cocktail kits).
“Bottom line is alcohol must be provided and served by the air carrier,” Ian Gregor, communications manager for the FAA Pacific Division, tells Matador in an email. “We don’t allow BYOB in air carrier operations.” “
Brilliant and we’ll written article. Titalating in fact. No more loser priced drinks for me!
$11000 fine if you open that bottle on the plane.
Juan Oquendo says
Greatest article ever!!!
Yeah but for me 1.00 a shot is still too much money. I mean, come on, we are fighting prices here right? So what I did was fill a bunch of prescription pill bottles. Leak proof. I also think the special uv plastic might deter detection. Leave no air bubbles inside. Scatter em about the bag. Used 151. As a scientist who works in a chem lab, I can tell you that they will not have the tech to get the specific gravityand know the proof. Honestly no need to be paranoid, the worst that will happen is they will toss them at the check point. Just be careful once you are past that. Then your cruising for trouble
Glam Mom says
Gail lamb says
Well after reading all these comments, I am going to give it a go – my problem is a bit different to most people as I am flying on Muslim flight with no alchohol being served but they will let you drink it & give you a glass & mixers but will not serve you & it also has to be drunk by the time you land in their country (which is also dry) . So think I can conform to these instructions & am off for my 100ml bottles!! Will post how I got on in couple of months.
i like to party says
I take my minis in a 1 quart bag in my carry on bag. I order tomato juice from the flight attendant and pour in my vodka when no one is looking…. or rum with coke. Cool
On a cruise I get a nice boxed wine (black box is ok) and take the wine out of the box and flatten the box. I lay that plastic bladder in my checked luggage. When I get to my cabin I fold the box back into a square and shove that wine back in. Works like a charm. Peace out
Sure it is legal to bring your own minis thru TSA, but it is illegal to consume your own alcohol in the plane. It is a federal offense, actually. You really shouldn’t take this advise unless you are ready for a little jail time, that’s why the flight attendants get pissy, because it creates a lot of paperwork for them, and it is put into your record for future travels.
I normally drink beer (cheap date), So I guess the next best thing would be rum and coke and of course a lime! I’m going to get those little bottles at the liquor store and a coke for $1.00 hopefully at McDonald’s at the airport and mix a big one before I get on so the flight attendant won’t get pissy! Chicago to Florida in snowy February hell yes here I come! Thanks for the tips
Sandy morrow says
Great idea but I can only drink wine. Are there any 3 oz wine bottles? I have only seen 6oz plastic bottles.
I want to try your method with the 5 hour energy bottles. How do you get away with them not being sealed?
Can you parlay this to taking booze on a cruise, in 2018?? Do they X-ray the bags? Do they pat down the passengers? HELP!
What about the size plastic bag. TSA says quart size but I’m wondering if anyone has gotten away with gallon size plastic bags?
Robert A. Hicks says
I am flying to the Philippines in 2 months. The flight is 24 hours long. I don’t drink that much liquor, but hate paying $7 for a drink.
This site has provided me with much needed advice.
Anneliese Bell says
You didn’t actually sneak anything onto the plane. It says right on the TSA website that you can bring as many 3.4 oz bottles of alcohol under 140 proof as comfortably fits inside the plastic bag. Meaning the bag has to close and not be bulging at the seams. The only problem is that it’s against FAA regulations to drink any alcohol that wasn’t served on the plane. That’s why your flight attendants get “pissy”, because you’re breaking a federal law. Be discreet. Mix it into a soda or juice. And share if you’re nice.
Great article! I’d like to add more to this…
My method is to bring in the mini-bottles as described above, and then after the TSA checkpoint, I buy a 1/2 liter bottle of orange juice at any shop outside of the gate. I then just make myself screwdrivers from then until I arrive at my destination by covertly adding the booze when nobody is looking. While in-flight, I simply ask for refills of orange juice.
This method is obviously much cheaper than buying in-flight. But also, it’s less messy because I keep the OJ bottle closed when not taking swigs, so no need to worry about turbulence spilling my drink. Also, I don’t have the aggravation of waiting for the flight attendant to come back and refill my drink. This is especially important on long haul flights when everyone goes to sleep and flight attendants are trying to take a break. I even do this in business class for the same reasons, except I refill the bottle with the airline booze when available. Lastly, this is the ONLY way to get a stiff drink before a morning flight, since most airports don’t serve alcohol before, say, 10am or 12pm or whatever the location mandates. And you can swig from your innocent looking bottle throughout boarding, all the way until they finally come around with the service cart!
For the others who have noted that it’s against federal law to drink alcohol on a plane that a flight attendant did not serve you…. most of the staff really do look the other way if you aren’t drunken mess about it. How you behave on a flight is, by far, the most important thing to flight attendants. They want a pleasant flight too, and the biggest problem they ever have are misbehaving passengers. So if you’re cool and quiet about things, you won’t have any trouble at all.
Great article! You have a gift my friend. I laughed outloud.
Awesome story dude. Bill Dwyer needs to get his panties out of a bunch. Maybe he should do some research on how ineffective the TSA is besides for creating shitty jobs for people that hate working them and the only thing they do is sort of stop the drug trade and annoy the shit out of everybody. If you are pregnant, old, or have a kid with you, you can waltz through the checkpoints with whatever the fuck you want. Get real dude. The TSA stereotypes and anybody smart enough can bypasss them. Ever watch “we’re the millers”? It’s not just a movie.
Wow Mr. Dwyer, you should change your name to Debbie Downer!
A+ for ingenuity!!
Tory & Amanda says
This made us laugh! I knew google would have all the answers!
You should keep writing James!
Newlyweds Tory & Amanda
Multi-million mile frequent flier here. To avoid the pissy looks from the flight attendants, I just refill energy drink bottles with booze (2 oz. 5 Hours Energy). The flight attendants love it when I pour one into a mixer – “Well I guess you’ll be really awake for this flight!”
1 $7 pint of vodka fills 8 bottles which is $64 at airline prices.
Flight attedents get pissy… It is illegal to drink alcohol that has not been opened or served by a flight attendant. I would not recommend doing it without some research. Sometimes up The will open and serve your drinks.
So I want to bring Vodka. I have different colored plastic bottles, that you use for shampoo or body wash. As long as they go in the same clear, plastic, quart-sized bag, as my actual shampoo, I am golden, right?
I have the 3 oz bottles from the drug store and fill at home. I typically buy a shot and mixer then continue to slam to excess. The altitude really has an effect after 5 or 6 drinks.
Jay Taber says
I think it’s absolutely hilarious that a guy that calls himself DrunkPirate going out of Tampa had a pirate logo that was halfway into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers old logo,
with each one sporting a knife in the mouth!Carry On!
Thank you for your story. It was very helpful and entertaining. I hope you are happily married because your humor made me fall in love with you.
Thanks for being great.
I must say you have high quality posts here.
Your page should go viral. You need initial traffic only.
How to get it? Search for: Etorofer’s strategies
Bill Dwyer says
They “get upset” because it’s illegal. Not that I wouldn’t do it, to save on cost. But it is against federal law. Keep that in mind if you do it.
But, really, James; “TSA Gestapo”? Grow up. They’re there to help prevent another 911. You remember that, right? Ya know, 3,000 people died and all that?
diana bradbury says
this southwest agent got all pissy at me for bringing my own and told me it was illegal –she said ‘tthat is why we serve alcohol.and I said..well we can bring snacks,and you give those away, Been doing this for years ..woud not do it if they didn’t charge double for a drink. I guess because my husband is a lot older than me ..she felt like she could call him honey…im writing a letter about her..all because she gave me a hard time about my little bottles…such a buzz kill unhappy attendant…she looked like she needed something,
Leo Nickol says
Instead of the cloak and dagger, why don’t you just ask the TSA people. I did and they told me that bringing liquor in your carry-on is fine as long as it is in the small 3.4 oz containers which are contained in the one quart plastic bag. Watch out for the airlines though. They make money charging exorbitant rates for their drinks and have their own rules for why you cannot drink your own liquor on their airline. As has been suggested, elsewhere, once you are past customs, buy an appropriate soft drink and mix your liquor before getting on the airline. Don’t get drunk and what no one knows won’t hurt you.
I’ve taken alcohol mini bottles through LAX, SLC, PRV, MCO never a problem at the checkpoints. Airline attendants can get upset if they see you’ve brought your own liquor. I usually purchase one bottle of Jack Daniels from them and continue to pull out my own bottles after the first one is gone.
I do this all the time, I actually save the airline bottles and refill them at home.
Drunk on a plane says
I have done this on many occasions, especially on international flights. 100ml bottles are best… Plastic of course. You can fit 6 or 7 in the quart size bag.
Colorado Pirate says
I’ve been doing this for years, my first time I called TSA and got the okay, all is legal. I still love the envious looks at security from other passengers ” you can do that?” I just brazenly toss my clear baggy on top of my grey bin, vacation begins….
Just received text from my best friend on her way to Belize, another happy drunk pirate. Her husband’s look of anxiety as she produced her clear qt. Contents was priceless, as she described it.
I am heading to Scottsdale leaving in two weeks from St Louis …. Has anyone had any issues with either airport?
Boozy minds think alike – I’m about to reproduce the experiment in 5 hours at Newark Airport (traveling to Orlando). I had JUST realized my 6 oz. flask would be taken because of capacity. At the drug store all I could find were 3.2 oz. Listerine bottles in the “travel” section. I figured, if booze is allowed in 3.4 oz units, the original purpose of the vessel doesn’t matter.
Now the flask is emptied so no worries on that front (hell I got it for a buck at a garage sale so no big loss if, you know, I lose it). I thoroughly rinsed the Listerine bottles and I’m all set for my first flight without kids in 7 years.
I figure I’ll get a soda with ice, and then it’s cocktail hour.
I do this all the time, as well, and I have NEVER had a TSA agent look at me crossed eyed! They have commented, yes, but only with grins on their faces and the occasional words of encouragement! Flight attendants are another story, although, so be careful when mixing your drinks on the plane and I would suggest not letting them see you do this AT ALL!
It is against federal regulations to open/pour/consume your own alcohol on board domestic flights just as it is in any non-BYOB establishment in America that serves alcohol. Reason being is because the airline assumes responsibility for your safety, and that of the other passengers and crew remembers, similar to the before mentioned establishments. That means that your flight attendant is also your bartender and one of the responsibilities of a bartender is to monitor your alcohol consumption and they cannot do that accurately if you are pouring your own drinks. So take a quick look around, mix your drink as quickly as possible and take the empty liquor bottles with you as to not raise any suspicions! Recently a family member of mine said a flight attendant got their panties in a wad when they saw him take out his bottles. He diffused the situation by putting the bottles in his carry-on in the overhead compartment. Again, be discrete and you will be FINE!
Also…….. Open container laws vary from state-to-state so I don’t recommend flaunting them as you mix in the terminal. Last thing you want is a ticket from the local authorities and to have your liquid bottles of gold confiscated before you’re off the ground; but once they are mixed in your drink of choice – no one will be the wiser!
I had mine confiscated in a small town regional airport. :(
TSA rules permit 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less containers of alcohol not to exceed 70% (140 proof) in carry on baggage. Of course it must be in the 1 quart ziplock bag. http://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/liquids_rule.svg
put it all in your checked lggauge and it will be fine. Anything liquid, gel or paste in your hand lggauge must be under 100ml, and the whole lot must fit in the designated plastic bag.
It freakin worked. TSA chick even moved it into the bin for me with my jacket and shoes lol. This is a game changer :)
Doesn’t flight safety rules say that anything over 20% is flammable. Otherwise I’d think it should be all fine.
All I’ve got to say is “Disney world with 2 kids!” My husband and I always pack toiletries in a checked bag and have our captain on board.
Starla Cochran says
This is so helpful! Are you guys leaving the alcohol in the original bottles or disguising them in something else?
J Walt says
A double prior to boarding and a liquor store after landing sounds simpler
Amazing your a hero!!!!❤️
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.
Would I be able to bring absinthe through airport security of it was hidden ?
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!
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?
can you pour your own into those 3.5 oz bottles you buy at the dollar store?
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.
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???
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!
You’re awesome, James. Thanks for the info… we’re drunken pirates from Tampa, too.
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.
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!
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You are s friggin saint. Thank you for your service.
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!!
Mike Michaels says
This is awesome. Does it matter if the plane is flying internationally?
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!!!
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!
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!
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?
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!!
I love this! This is tooooo funny and the picture is epic! Nice post.
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
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.
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.
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.
Waiting for other blog posts. This is awesome!
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.
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.
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.
amber, 80 proof isn’t. at least, not very. it will light on fire, but so will spaghetti
Putting brown alcohol in Listerine Bottles works.
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.
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.
isn’t alcohol flammable?