Flying With Wine | 12 Packing Tips For Checked Luggage | Laws And More

Drinks connoisseurs are bound to encounter unique alcoholic beverages such as cool new liquors, wines, and beers while traveling throughout the country or even worldwide.

You will always want to bring home new and fascinating bottles of wine. But how can you ensure that these liquid souvenirs arrive safely at their destination? When traveling by airline and flying with wine, the size of your purchase is critical.

If it exceeds TSA’s 3.4 ounce or fewer standards, it must be checked, putting it at risk of being shattered or sloshed around in transit. Do not take any chances, if you know you will be bringing wine home, be sure you have planned ahead of time.

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12 tips on how to carry wine in checked luggage

Knowing how to pack wine in a bag can save you a lot of money, problems, and heartbreak when it comes to traveling with your favorite foreign wines. There are numerous methods to explore wonderful wines overseas, ranging from vineyard trips to bar tours.

These wines are frequently too nice to pass up a bottle or two. However, unlike new clothes or quirky gifts, wine bottles are not something you toss into your suitcase. They are delicate and must be packed with care.

Our 12 top suggestions for packing wine in a suitcase will help you pack your bottles and transport wine with confidence while you wait at the luggage belt to see if your checked bag survived the baggage handlers!

A lady sat on a pink hard-shelled suitcase, a hardshell is highly advised when packing wine in checked luggage.

1. Travel with a hardside suitcase

You will need the correct luggage before you can figure out how to pack a bottle of wine in your luggage. Many travelers prefer to travel with a hard side suitcase because it provides additional security for their belongings. Hardside suitcases preserve their structure, but regular luggage might squash and dent beneath other suitcases. As a result, they can take heavier blows and bumps. That can be a good purchase for getting your wine bottles home along with any other fragile souvenirs.

2. To soften shock line the suitcase’s edges with shoes

While packing wine bottles in your baggage, the goal should be to make everything as compact as possible. Begin by packing your shoes around the suitcase’s edges. The edges of your bag, where you zip it, are frequently the weakest part of it. Your shoes are in the ideal position to absorb the impact of any bumps since they are rigid and sturdy.

3. Wrap your wine bottle in a plastic bag

Naturally, we want to keep your wine bottle from breaking. However, you should ensure that you have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. Place each bottle you’re packing into a plastic shopping bag, then tie the bag’s top tightly. If you do get home with a broken bottle, then most of the spilled liquid will be contained by the plastic bag. You could lose your wine, but you won’t have to throw away a suitcase full of things. Just be careful of the shattered glass when clearing up.

4. Using your clothes, make sandwich layers

Separate your heavier, larger clothing from your lighter, smaller clothing before you begin. Pack some of your heavier clothing towards the bottom of your bag. Towels and jackets, for example, provide a harder, thicker layer of protection. Especially if traveling with one or two bottles. Place your wine in the center of the suitcase on that layer. After that, you can pack your lighter, smaller garments around each bottle.

Me holding a glass of white wine in a vineyard in Hungary

5. Wrap a thick piece of clothes around your wine bottle

Roll the wine bottle up inside your sweatshirt, hoodie, or coat if you have one. This adds an additional layer of safety while repurposing an item of clothes you already have on hand. Be sure to pay special attention to the bottle’s neck as it is the weakes point.

6. Bottles should not be packed adjacent to each other

When traveling with multiple wine bottles, refrain from stacking two or more bottles together because the bottles can easily break if the glass clanks together. When placing the bottles in the bag, make sure there are gaps between them. To construct barriers between each bottle, use thinner, rollable clothing such as socks and t-shirts.

7. Wrap your wine bottle in bubble wrap

Bubble wrap is inexpensive to purchase, yet it is extremely effective in preventing fragile items from breaking during transport or shipping. It is all about layers when it comes to wine storage. When it is time to pack your wine bottles, you can use bubble wrap to add an extra layer of protection, whether traveling with one bottle or multiple.

8. Invest in a wine travel sleeve

LIVEBAY 5 Pack Reusable Wine Bag for Travel Wine Bottle Protector Sleeve for Airplane Car Cruise...

Packing wine in checked luggage becomes much easier with specialist equipment. Wine travel sleeves such as these, are a good investment if you travel with wine frequently and many wine bags and carriers are available on the market that is specifically designed to protect wine bottles while traveling. Padded walls and tight seals are used in wine sleeves, wine bags, and wine totes to reduce the impact of abrupt movements and bumps.

9. Make use of packing cubes

If you cannot justify purchasing a wine travel bag, packing cubes could be a good alternative. Packing cubes are not only useful for organizing garments, but they also give a cushioned layer of protection. Compression packing cubes also remove all air from the container, ensuring that the contents are tightly packed.

10. Request a fragile sticker for your suitcase

You can request a fragile sticker from the baggage drop-off clerk for a little extra protection. At the very least, that tag informs airport personnel that the contents of your suitcase are fragile and they should treat your luggage with more care.

11. Use a wine bottle suitcase to transport your belongings

VinGardeValise Wine Suitcase by FlyWithWine, Durable 10-year Warranty, Versatile, 5-Bottle Wine...

A wine suitcase is a good investment if you plan to move multiple bottles, especially expensive bottles. This sturdy piece of equipment was created exclusively for transporting wine. As a result, you will find ample padding and sections specifically designed to carry wine bottles during air travel. You can also set a weight limit for the amount of wine you can transport with wine bottle luggage.

12. Inquire with the winery and use a professional wine shipping service

The majority of successful wineries offer their product on a national and worldwide level. They are also accustomed to getting large orders and as a result, it is often a great choice to simply ship wine. The winery will enlist the help of specialized shipping options to carry a large number of bottles of their highly sought-after wines and spirits.

Other things to think about when bringing wine in your baggage

Check the weight of your suitcase because you might go over your baggage allowance

When you factor in the weight of the glass bottle, a full 750ml wine bottle can weigh anything from 1.2kg to 1.4kg. When many checked luggage allowances are in the range of 23kg, traveling with a few bottles quickly adds up to a significant amount of weight. If you intend to bring wine home, you should make preparations ahead of time. Before you leave, double-check that your luggage weight includes the increased weight of the wine bottles.

Luggage on the weighing conveyor belt at an airport. Know how heavy your bag is when flying with wine.

In each country you visit, find out how much wine you may lawfully bring through customs

You will be surprised at how rapidly your wine collection grows if you intend to visit numerous wineries throughout your vacation. It is a good idea to know how much you can legally bring on a trip. Research the customs laws and duty-free limits of all the countries you’ll be passing through on your journey before you go. The last thing you want is your wine confiscated or a hefty bill when you get home.

Understand restrictions when traveling with wine to alcohol restricted countries

As it stands, there are around 14 countries in the world where alcoholic beverages are illegal, or at least mostly illegal and require a permit to drink. If you are traveling to or through any of these countries, you must know the rules.

Usually, there will be no problems if you are traveling with wine or alcohol in your checked bag. If you have purchased something in the duty-free shop and have alcohol in your hand luggage, again, most of the time this will before as long as it is in a clear, sealed bag with no sign of tampering.

However, if you are planning on making a stop in one of these countries, then it is different. For the most part, it is illegal to bring wine or alcohol into them, even if you do not plan to drink it, and it will be confiscated on entry with possible fines.

If you are unsure, your airline will be the place to check for the most up-to-date information and rules regarding traveling with alcohol.

Grapes growing on a vine in Napa Valley California

Is it better to ship or to schlep?

Concerns about space and weight can be added to the list of factors. Due to rising airline baggage fees, it is prudent to pack light. If you want to purchase a large number of bottles, shipping services provided by wineries and stores may be a viable option.

Before using a service to export your wine, look into the shipping laws in your home country

Some shipping services require an alcohol license. Or, most likely, such products are not covered by their insurance. Make sure you do your homework first. Find out how much wine you can legally ship home so you know what you are up against.

Do not check-in a wine crate made of cardboard

You may receive a case of wine in a cardboard container if you purchase it from a vineyard or winery. Do not check this straight into the hold, even if the crate is firmly packed with separators in between each bottle. You run the risk of your wine bottles being destroyed before they get home if you do not use sufficient protection and cushioning.

Wine from Versos Microbodega packed in cardboard boxes

FAQ section

Can you travel with wine in your suitcase?

In checked bags, up to 5 liters of alcohol with an alcohol content of 24 percent to 70% are allowed, as long as they are in unopened retail packaging. You can bring as much wine or spirits as you want as long as they are under 24 percent alcohol by volume.

Can I put champagne in checked baggage?

Most airlines’ cargo holds are definitely pressurized so if you are planning to travel with a bottle of Champagne, you will need to check it but do not worry, it will not burst.

Will wine explode in checked luggage?

When flying with wine, you do not have to worry about the bottle exploding because the cargo section is pressurized and the temperature inside the plane is controlled.

Can I carry wine in my carry on luggage?

Yes in theory, but also no. There is nothing specifically banning wine in your carry-on bag, but only in small quantities. Wine, like all liquids, has size restrictions imposed by the TSA and will be confiscated by airport security if it exceeds this. The only difference to this is wine bought in duty-free stores in the airport, these can be taken on board in a sealed plastic bag.

Does flying with wine ruin it?

As long as you take basic measures, traveling with wine is typically really simple and worry-free. There is no need to be concerned about wine bursting in the cargo hold. And, thankfully, it keeps very chilly and consistent inside, so there is no risk of heat damage.

Do you have to declare wine in checked baggage?

In order to transport alcohol back into the United States from a foreign country, U.S. Customs and Border Protection establishes rules about who can transport alcohol and when tax and duty expenses begin to accumulate. Anyone importing alcohol must be at least 21 years old, which includes bringing it back in your luggage for personal use or as a gift. In general, you can transport up to 1 liter (0.26 gallons) of duty-free merchandise, while tourists from particular countries, such as the Caribbean, are frequently entitled to more. You must disclose and pay duty and federal excise taxes if you bring in more than the duty-free amount.

Can I travel to Qatar with wine or any alcohol?

No. It is illegal to enter the State of Qatar with any alcohol. Bags are scanned on entry and any alcohol found will be confiscated and you could even face possible jail time. You can transit with wine inside your luggage, but you cannot take it into the country.

Final thoughts

Some people are unfamiliar with flying with wine bottles, and learning how to do so properly can be beneficial, especially for those who want to take home a souvenir or send a rare bottle to a friend or family member. There are a variety of additional reasons why someone might wish to check wine at the airport, but the most essential thing is that you pack it carefully and adhere to the airline’s guidelines as well as the customs restrictions of your destination country.

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