How to Travel with Wine: Your Most Common Questions about Taking Alcohol on a Plane, Answered
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For wine travelers, the most confusing part of planning a tasting-focused holiday is knowing how to travel with wine. International shipping gets expensive, but it can be equally stressful understanding the laws related to taking alcohol on a plane. Wine Pass decided to investigate.
Timing couldn’t be better with tourist season starting early here in Piedmont.
It’s no coincidence that wine lovers from all over are visiting the Roero, Langhe, and Monferrato with the Milan Expo in full swing. Day trips are easy enough with car rentals. Some visitors are even taking advantage of the Barolo Express shuttle bus, which transports you from Milan to Alba. To support your wine travel needs we wanted to make sure our readers are informed on wine & travel regulations, so we interviewed Paul Budny, CEO of wine travel product designer, Lazenne.
WP: Hi Paul, thanks so much for your time. Obviously, at Wine Pass we are all wine lovers. But like most people, we know little about traveling with wine or taking alcohol on a plane. So, let’s start with that. Is it possible to take wine and alcohol on the airplane?
L: Yes, and it’s probably easier than you think, as long as you follow some key rules. This includes the standard regulations set by international security agencies, individual airlines, and the country you are flying into.
WP: What regulations are set by international security agencies that our readers should note?
L: First, wine and alcohol in your carry-on (or cabin) baggage is not allowed unless purchased past security and the Duty-Free Shop. This is because liquids in quantities larger than 100 ml (3.4 oz.) cannot be placed in your carry-on.
However, wine and alcohol can be placed in your checked (or hold) baggage within the following limits:
• Alcoholic beverages with less than 24% alcohol have no restrictions
• Alcoholic beverages with alcohol content between 24% and 70% are restricted to 5 liters (170 oz.) per person
• Alcoholic beverages with more than 70% alcohol are prohibited
WP: What are the airline regulations our readers should consider?
L: First, you need to be mindful of your weight limit. Individual airline baggage weight limits apply, but you can use up your entire weight allotment for wine or alcohol if you choose. One bottle of wine weighs on average 1.4 kg / 3 lbs, so you can do the math. Typical international baggage weight limits are 23 kg / 50 lbs.
Also remember that some airlines have explicit rules about the wine and alcohol being packed professionally in a secure and leak-proof way.
WP: What are individual country regulations we should know about?
L: Country regulations are primarily concerned with duties and taxes. Of course, this varies by nation. In general, most countries have a duty-free limit for alcohol, which means you do not pay any duties or taxes. An additional, usually much larger, quantity is allowed over the duty-free limit, which may or may not be taxed.
As an example, although the alcohol duty-free limit for the United States is only 1 litre (34 oz.), an unlimited additional quantity can be brought in for personal consumption. Duty for this additional quantity, if charged, is only $1-$2 per bottle. Most of the time this small amount of revenue does not justify the paperwork for the customs officers.
As another example, when travelling between countries within the European Union, each person is allotted a duty-free limit of 90 litres – that’s 120 standard bottles of wine per trip!
Unfortunately, not all nations have such generous regulations. For duties in other countries review our Flying with Wine 101 guide.
WP: What are your suggestions for packing wine and alcohol for the airplane?
L: Wine can be delicate to travel with, and you never want to arrive home to your clothes stained and destroyed from a broken bottle of red. We’ve all seen luggage handlers ignore the “fragile” sticker, tossing and jostling your luggage – and that’s before it shoots down onto the conveyor belt. Typical cardboard alcohol transport boxes are not always adequate for commercial air travel due to a lack of padding.
For one or two bottles, there are reusable and leak-proof products on the market that inflate around your bottle and protect them in your luggage. Styrofoam bottle protectors come in a variety of sizes, and also provide protection against temperature variations that the wine may encounter between the airport, tarmac, and belly of the plane. There are also options for transporting a larger number of bottles, such as specialized wine luggage that is purpose-built for checking even 12-15 bottles onto the plane.
WP: Thanks so much for this great information, Paul. You cleared up a lot of questions on how to travel with wine. We are excited to check out some of the wine travel products out there.
L: You bet! Drop us a note or ask us questions on Twitter for more specific information on how to travel with wine. We are always happy to help. And for more details on our wine travel luggage and products, take a look at our products page.
We are in the area June 11 to 15 at the Milan Expo Italian Makers Village if any of your readers are interested in learning more.
Special Offer: WinePass readers get 10% off any purchase at lazenne.com by using discount code WinePass10