Taking beer on a plane as a checked bag

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by KingHenry, May 22, 2012.

  1. mcaulifww

    mcaulifww Initiate (0) Aug 18, 2011 Virginia

    Thanks. I don't plan on lying, but I've never needed a customs form for anything like that, so I just wanted to be prepared :slight_smile:
  2. mcaulifww

    mcaulifww Initiate (0) Aug 18, 2011 Virginia


    I don't see any info about styrofoam containers. where were you flying that this was an issue? I'm curious b/c I'm flying AA in a couple months
  3. beerguy2784

    beerguy2784 Initiate (0) Apr 4, 2012

    11 bombers and 2 64oz growlers is almost 11 liters. Is it 5 l per bag? You checked in a soft backpack with beer in it?
  4. kscaldef

    kscaldef Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2010 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    Per the previously posted TSA link, the 5L limit only applies to distilled spirits, and is a hazmat restriction:

  5. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    I just got back from Belgium with 27 bottles and 12 glasses in 3 checked bags with no problems. It's very doable, just pack like it's a trade.
    chcfan likes this.
  6. chcfan

    chcfan Devotee (466) Oct 29, 2008 California

    I could be wrong, but I think only the TSA actually looks at what's in bags. The airline folks at check-in just put bags on the conveyer and are done with them and at airports where you bring your bags over to the big scanner, the employees are TSA, not any airline, so there's no way they're going to care or enforce some airline's beer policies, with the possibly exception of SF's airport. Just don't tell them there's beer in there and you should be fine.
  7. chcfan

    chcfan Devotee (466) Oct 29, 2008 California

    It really is that simple. Lots of cushioning and you should be fine. I've even had the TSA cut open bubble wrap and retape it.
  8. kevinscott

    kevinscott Aspirant (227) Oct 21, 2008 Texas

    I have some hiking socks from REI that hold 22oz bottles perfectly. They provide plenty of padding for bottles too. We just came back from Chicago this past weekend and I stuffed 3 four packs and 3 22oz bottles, plus an Imperial pint glass from Half Acre in my checked bag flying Southwest. No problem at all.
  9. John_M

    John_M Moderator (6,051) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    That's certainly what I've been told the few times I've had some damage to the contents of my luggage. The airline told me that they do not look into anyone's luggage, but that they have no control whatsoever over what TSA does. Hence, I've always been told that if I had any problems or complaints about damage done to my property, I needed to take it up with them (which I did, but with pretty predictable results - "if we ignore your complaints long enough, hopefully you'll just go away").

    The situation might be different if the damage occurred as a result of the way my luggage was handled (an airline employee dropped my bag, kicked it, bounced on it, etc.), but I'm fairly sure any problem that occurs as a result of inspection of the contents is completely a TSA issue.
  10. naloxone

    naloxone Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 Connecticut

    Pack them well but don't rely on any complicated padding technique. TSA has opened my beer box or luggage every time and I will give them points that they obviously attempted to repackage everything as I had it but I have given up on trying to get every square inch of beer possible in lieu of extra padding.
  11. KingHenry

    KingHenry Initiate (71) Nov 25, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    What did the note say.
    "thanks for beers"
  12. RWNewhouse

    RWNewhouse Initiate (118) Feb 14, 2011 Montana

    I love these just for flying. Pack small on the way there, protect great on the way back. I just weave a couple socks through the six-pack holder and "bury" in my clothes, closer to the back side of the suitcase. Knock on wood, I've traveled near and far (Germany) and have had a mishap (or missing beer).

    Double Bomber
  13. tinypyramids

    tinypyramids Initiate (0) Jul 19, 2012 Illinois

    sorry to revive this thread from the dead, but do you know if this fits champagne-sized bottles (which tend to be fatter than regular wine bottles)? i'm planning on going to belgium and bringing back a mixed case of cantillon and 3f and i'm hoping it'll all fit neatly...
  14. tinypyramids

    tinypyramids Initiate (0) Jul 19, 2012 Illinois

    since i can't edit, i found this faq that addresses my question: http://thewinecheck.com/The_Wine_Check_FAQ_s.html in short, it should fit the larger bottles.
  15. jtmartino

    jtmartino Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    My only advice, after checking beer over 15 separate trips, is DO NOT OVERPACK. Regardless of the packing material, if you overpack your bag you will have problems, even if you wrap each bottle. I individually wrapped around 30 different bottles of beer (most 12oz. size with a couple bombers) and put them in my checked bag. 49.5 lbs. It ended up breaking the internal plastic frame on the edge of my suitcase somehow and one of the bottles cracked (Weyerbacher Tiny.) Ended up soaking my suitcase with beer - luckily it didn't really leak out.
  16. DrinkSlurm

    DrinkSlurm Poo-Bah (1,817) Oct 3, 2007 New York

    Just got back from belgium and brought about a dozen bottles in checked luggage...bubble wrap and zip lock bags. I routinely fly delta, but flew Virgin (From London) home. I asked them to put a "Fragile sticker"on my bag and they placed it in a special area...maybe extra screening but had no probem, and 8 hrs later 2 Cantillons, many many de struise, and some Kernels (london), made it to the US! Its so worth it...
  17. WynnO

    WynnO Defender (630) Oct 24, 2003 Florida

    'tis Apropos that they declared bankruptcy. I *hate* American airlines.
  18. Lare453

    Lare453 Meyvn (1,339) Feb 1, 2012 Florida
    Beer Trader

    ive only had one broken bottle and that is becuase the fucking idiots at tsa unwrapped one from the bubble wrap adn did not wrap it back up.

    i hate TSA and the airports should be manned by airport police.
  19. gtermi

    gtermi Meyvn (1,214) Apr 21, 2010 Texas

    Damn, I am flying American to Chicago and wanted to check a bag on the way back home with tons of Founders and Bells and now IDK if I want to mess with it.
  20. TimKahl

    TimKahl Initiate (0) Sep 4, 2011 North Carolina

    I have moved beer this way many times and have never had any regulatory issues, even after getting my baggage back with inspection slips in them. The only caution is that you can't guarantee you won't lose anything. I recently came up short two bottles of terrapin WBN that I had aged for a year and half and was bringing to a buddy in CA. Haven't had a legal issues but it's not like you could complain if some is stolen or broken.
  21. WynnO

    WynnO Defender (630) Oct 24, 2003 Florida

    DO IT. Yeah AA is a crapshoot, but you have to take the chance. Don't listen to me.
  22. luwak

    luwak Aspirant (269) Mar 2, 2010 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    well it won't be long now...

  23. stupac2

    stupac2 Zealot (518) Feb 22, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    The problem isn't with the bags, I don't think, it's more than your flight won't be on time. Well, flip a coin, that's the odds your flight is on time. Right now there's a bunch of shit going on, and basically all the employees are fucking shit up so that management has to cave. (Not safety shit, but basically throwing monkey wrenches into the process so things take longer than they have to.) I'd link an article about it, but I'm lazy.

    The tl;dr is: DON'T FLY AMERICAN.
  24. gtermi

    gtermi Meyvn (1,214) Apr 21, 2010 Texas

    Yeah I heard about this two weeks after I ordered the tickets. I sure hope they don't screw me over. Atleast it's not as bad as spirit
  25. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Aspirant (238) Jun 10, 2008 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    Fail. Sounds like you could have got another 12oz bottle on that 49lb box.
    Franch and BruceBruce like this.
  26. MPLSbrewer

    MPLSbrewer Initiate (97) Dec 7, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Last time I went to grand cayman I checked 2 cases of surly, that's what the airline allowed... Cayman Islands has shit beer
    LoganStegman likes this.
  27. Steasy66

    Steasy66 Disciple (335) Feb 23, 2012 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I've brought tons of beer to and from Denmark, South Carolina, and Nashville in checked bags, all on Delta, no issue. My bag was searched on the way back from South Carolina and the TSA actually repacked my beer better than I had originally packed it.
  28. luwak

    luwak Aspirant (269) Mar 2, 2010 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    I check beer about every two weeks. I'd say ive brought about 400 bottles (750s /22oz) in the last few years. All domestic US travel (except one trip).

    The main thing is to use lots of bubble wrap on the bottles and also line the bag the bags or boxes (i use lots of liquor boxes) on the bottom and the sides. And add lots of soft padding (clothes, towels, sheets, crumpled paper) as the boxes/bags do get dropped and sometimes thrown.

    Only twice have i had a bottle broken and once it was totally my fault due to lazy last minute packing without enough protection. (I left a six pax in the box instead of individually wrapping the bottles for fear of missing the flight)

    The other broken bottle was cracked at the top and had leaked. Since then i use more clothes or towels that can absorb any (some) of the spilled beer.

    I also brought back a cork and caged beer from Iceland that had its cork loosened enough in transit that it leaked (a little) not sure if that is really anybody's fault.

    As for who opens the bags: Yes in the US only TSA opens luggage and they usually leave you a little note saying they did (mine beer gets inspected about 75 percent of the time).

    They do sometimes unwrap the bottles but i have found if there is enough soft padding in the bag or box it doesn't usually matter.

    But the airlines can refuse anything they don't like. The main thing that concerns them is stuff that might cause a fire or weighs too much. So try to weigh (or estimate) your boxes or bags before you get to the airport and know the weight limits and fees in advance.

    swoopdog likes this.
  29. bradalmanac

    bradalmanac Initiate (139) Jan 1, 2010 Massachusetts

    Thought I'd share my experience earlier this week, for those looking for advice. This was after checking this thread...

    Flew to CVG Kentucky from Boston with a checked duffel bag full of Heady Topper and a couple bottles of Lawson's. I put each can/bottle in a padded mailing envelope, and put each padded envelope in a ziploc bag. I put all 12 of these ziplocs/mailer combos (two HT four packs, two Lawsons bottles) inside the duffel bag wrapped in one large towel. Everything was perfectly intact when I picked up the bag at the CVG baggage claim.

    On the way back I did the same thing with two 6 packs of West 6th IPA (cans) and a 6 pack of Zombie Dust. Again, all were perfectly intact back in Boston.

    Mission accomplished. Thanks to all who offered advice in this thread.
    kirkse and fredmugs like this.
  30. codysjb

    codysjb Devotee (424) Jun 16, 2010 Prince Edward Island (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    I have done this a handful of times. The most recent being when I brought 28 bottles back from Amsterdam a few days before x-mas. The TSA opened the bags but didnt unwrap anything. On the way to Amsterdam I was bringing beer for another BA and they opened the box to my bottle shipper which now sports some snazzy TSA tape from where they tapped it back up:


    But I've never had anything break. I just use enough bubble wrap to make sure you could play football with a bottle and they end up fine (even had lost baggage last time and nothing broke).
    Jeffo likes this.
  31. mcaulifww

    mcaulifww Initiate (0) Aug 18, 2011 Virginia

    I learned that if you have to pay ANY checked bag fees it is probably cheaper to swing by a fedex and mail yourself a box. Probably not cheap for international though.
  32. blackcloud

    blackcloud Disciple (343) Apr 28, 2012 Alaska
    Beer Trader

    I do this somewhat frequently, and have developed a pretty sweet system - I use an 8gal ActionPacker, with a 1/4" layer of closed cell foam on the bottom. It will hold 14 individually bubblewrapped bombers. weighs in at about 43lbs usually, so under the weight limits. I've not had an issue with it yet. It goes with me unloaded, full of bubblewrap, comes back loaded full of tasty beers.
  33. ao125

    ao125 Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2010 Virginia

    The TSA are a bunch of dicks.
    I brought a few bottles of rum home, from my honeymoon in Aruba.

    Cleared customs, no problem. Declared everything legally.

    After I checked my bags, the TSA opened my luggage, inspected the bottles, didn't re-wrap them, and put all the bottles at the bottom of my bag instead of where they were.

    When my bag came down the ramp, *SMASH* - all of my luggage was covered in broken glass and coconut rum.

    I had to throw the suitcase away, and I was out about $100 worth of rum, with no recourse.
  34. jakeox

    jakeox Initiate (0) Dec 15, 2012 Illinois

    As someone mentioned earlier in this thread, diapers are great for this purpose. I packed six bombers and six 12 oz bottles in my suitcase last week with zero problems -- wrapped each bottle in diapers, then sealed them in a gallon ziploc bag (one bomber or two 12 oz bottles). As a bonus anyone inspecting your bag who has children will look at them and instinctively think you stuffed a dirty diaper in a ziploc so it wouldn't stink, and be less likely to open things up to investigate. (They may well wonder what sort of person travels with several baggies full of dirty diapers, but mission accomplished, right?)
  35. mikennat

    mikennat Aspirant (257) Dec 30, 2010 Missouri

    I have checked a 12 bottle shipper on southwest...no problem at all
  36. mtbdonn

    mtbdonn Devotee (439) Dec 15, 2009 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    When shipping lots of 12 oz or 33cl bottle, use a crate with the bottles wrapped in newspaper so they're tight and place crate in a cardboard box. I've done this numerous times while traveling international and NEVER had a broken bottle. I've even had the box flip upside down when exiting the conveyor (?) belt at baggage claim. A little shaken, but just let it sit a while.
    Plus, I listed it on my customs form and they never questioned it!
  37. unclejazz

    unclejazz Defender (639) Oct 24, 2011 New York
    Beer Trader

    One thing worth considering is that TSA has the right to look thru your stuff. This became an issue when I brought back a c&c bottle along with some cans. I packed things safely, but TSA rearranged stuff and the metal from the caged bottle busted open a can. I learned my lesson, don't fall prey to the same.
  38. Zhiguli

    Zhiguli Initiate (140) Jul 12, 2012 California

    y'all are effin nuts. respect
  39. codasnap52

    codasnap52 Aspirant (260) Jan 24, 2008 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    I only bring back bombers or 750's when I travel. I live in the NY area and have brought back beers from Belgium, Chicago, Tampa, etc and usually can check about 8 or so in my bag. I've never used bubble tape or any intense method to safeguard my beers, I just wrap each bottle in clothes from the trip. Never had a breakage.
  40. heatwaves

    heatwaves Aspirant (269) Oct 17, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    I actually had a funny one recently. I was flying Southwest and packed a bunch of my various homebrews in a cardboard Vodka box (it was double cardboard and had divisions like a wine box).

    When I checked it, the attendant asked "What's in the box?". "Beer," I replied.

    The attendant then got a little testy and said "You know, the contents of the box are suppose to match original packaging."

    Me: "It's homebrew."

    SW: "Your homebrew needs to be in original packaging."

    Me: "It's HOMEBREW."

    She never did understand, so I just stopped debating her.