Are you allowed to drink your own alcohol during a flight?

travel related

Do you enjoy having a drink or two while flying? Any budget traveler knows that airport and airline prices for alcohol aren’t exactly cheap. On a recent trip a flight attendant who noticed our group had brought our own alcohol strongly discouraged us from doing so and cited it was against regulations. I researched the topic a bit further and in this post I’ll discuss the topic of bringing your own alcohol on board and whether or not you’re allowed to consume it.

How people get alcohol past security

  • 3 oz rule – The TSA will allow those mini bottles of liquor through security as long as they are under 3 ounces. The bottles are similar to what is typically served on the plane.
  • Air side shops and lounges – There are shops that sell alcohol (usually beer) in which you can take with you and some airline lounges have self-serve beverages (some lounges discourage the removal of food and drink from the premises)
  • Duty-free – for international flights you’re able to purchase at a duty-free shop and will typically have the items delivered to you on the jet bridge while boarding at most airports in the US.

Are you allowed to drink your own alcohol on the plane?

Yes and no.  According to FAA regulations you cannot open and serve your own alcohol while on board the airplane. However you are allowed to give the flight attendant anything you’ve brought on board and if they can agree to serve you that alcohol. The reasoning is that flight attendants can then keep an eye on your consumption levels. The flight attendant can still decline to serve you your own alcohol.

The full text from the FAA website is:

§121.575   Alcoholic beverages.

(a) No person may drink any alcoholic beverage aboard an aircraft unless the certificate holder operating the aircraft has served that beverage to him.
(b) No certificate holder may serve any alcoholic beverage to any person aboard any of its aircraft who—
(1) Appears to be intoxicated;
(2) Is escorting a person or being escorted in accordance with 49 CFR 1544.221; or
(3) Has a deadly or dangerous weapon accessible to him while aboard the aircraft in accordance with 49 CFR 1544.219, 1544.221, or 1544.223.
(c) No certificate holder may allow any person to board any of its aircraft if that person appears to be intoxicated.
(d) Each certificate holder shall, within five days after the incident, report to the Administrator the refusal of any person to comply with paragraph (a) of this section, or of any disturbance caused by a person who appears to be intoxicated aboard any of its aircraft.

The FAA definitely does not want you serving yourself. In most cases a passenger who’s caught serving themselves is told to immediately stop and the offending items may be confiscated. However you risk heavy penalties and fines and/or possibly ending up duct taped to your seat after consuming all of your duty-free alcohol and arrested upon landing. Always drink responsibly!

One thought on “Are you allowed to drink your own alcohol during a flight?

  • I used the three oz. rule on my flight. As long as you are very discrete about serving your own alcohol. Which really shouldn’t be very difficult at all considering the small size of the alcohol. Your whole flight should go down without a hitch. I was discrete my brother was not and he was asked not to serve himself alcohol. He left the small empty bottle in plain view. I on the other hand poured my 1 oz. Jack Daniels into my cup of cola and discarded my empty bottle back into my backpack. I had a great flight, my brother did not.

    I recommend sticking to the small alcohol bottles, beer would be much more difficult to get away with. Might not be worth the hassle, besides since you’re on a budget. The Jack Daniels only cost me $1.50-$2.00 depending on where you make your purchase, other spirits also sell for as low as $1.

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