It's easy to breeze through airport security with alcohol miniatures, since they are safely under the limit of 3.4 ounces. However, some of us like to be ready to party on arrival; others want to save money, or simply don't want to get to their destination without our favorite tipple. There are rules for transporting full bottles of booze in checked luggage.


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The Transportation Security Administration places limits on both the amount and type of liquor you can pack in your checked bag. Passengers aren't permitted to transport any beverage with more than 70 percent alcohol, or 140 proof, which excludes grain alcohol and 151 rum. Up to five liters of liquor with an alcohol content between 24 percent and 70 percent are permitted, provided "it is packaged in a sealable bottle or flask" ( Anything with an alcohol level below 24 percent is exempt from the regulations on hazardous materials, so you can bring as much wine as you can fit into your bag.

Airlines differ

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To make life more difficult, some airlines have additional rules for the transport of alcohol. Most require that wine and liquor bottles be unopened and in their original retail packaging. Southwest goes one step further, specifying that "Alcohol (wine and liquor) accepted as checked baggage must be contained within a corrugated box secured with sealing tape," rather than in your bag (; liquor and wine packaging is available for sale at Southwest ticket counters. To avoid confusion, check with your airline before departure.


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Most airlines allow passengers to carry on beer or wine purchased at duty-free shops located after the security checkpoint, as long as the alcohol isn't consumed on board. If you're connecting from an international to a domestic flight within the U.S. and have to clear security again, the alcohol must be placed in your checked baggage. When going through Customs, remember to declare any bottles of alcohol above the legal limit. An airline may allow you to pack five bottles of liquor in your suitcase, but that doesn't exempt you from paying the duty on those bottles.


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You may be a fan of single malt Scotch, but that doesn't mean you'd want to wash your clothes in it. That's what will happen if your prized bottle of Glenmorangie or Laphroaig breaks in transit. To transport alcohol safely, make sure the bottle is unopened, pace it in a self-sealing bag, and remove as much air as possible, and pad the bottle by wrapping it in an article of clothing such as a sweater or sweatshirt. Position the alcohol toward the center of the bag to insulate it against the indignities of baggage handling.