The air inside an airplane is so dry and the size of most airline drinks the flight attendants serve is so small that bringing your own large drinks might seem like the most logical solution. Unfortunately, between the Transportation Security Administration and the airlines themselves, regulations severely restrict exactly what liquids, aerosols and gels you are allowed to bring with you when boarding your flight or in your checked baggage. Check the rules ahead of time to avoid having to pour out your drink before ever getting near your seat on the plane.
Bottled water and soft drinks might seem harmless, but TSA rules state that except in certain circumstances, you aren't allowed to bring any liquid through the security checkpoint in a container that measures more than 3.4 ounces. This eliminates any chance of purchasing inexpensive drinks near your home and packing them in your carry-on bag. Any bottled drinks found in carry-on baggage will be confiscated before you're allowed to pass through the security checkpoint, so put them in your checked luggage.
Once you pass the TSA security checkpoint, you are free to purchase any drink in the airport and bring it with you onto the plane. Duty free shops offer soft drinks and bottled water for sale for just this purpose. In addition, you may bring an empty bottle or travel mug in your carry-on luggage and have it filled with ice water at any kiosk that offers soft drinks or coffee. This eliminates the sometimes higher prices charged for drinks at airport restaurants and shops.
Exceptions for Children
Airport security is less restrictive when it comes to drinks for children. You are allowed to bring larger amounts of formula, breast milk, baby food and juice for children when traveling with them. In addition, you may carry on larger amounts of infant formula and ice packs over the standard liquid rule, even if you are not traveling with a baby, as long as it is sealed in a quart-sized bag and declared for the security personnel to inspect.
Alcoholic drinks have separate TSA and airline rules from other liquids. No bottle with an alcohol content above 140 proof is allowed on planes in a carry-on or checked bag, as it can constitute a fire hazard. When it comes to packing alcohol in your carry-on luggage, there is a gray area, so you might want to keep up to date on current FAA regulations. The TSA allows mini bottles of alcohol and other liquids in containers of 3.4 ounces or less, as long as they are in separate, sealed bottles and packaged in a single, quart-size, zip-top plastic bag, but they may be subject to additional screening. So, according to the rules, you should be able to bring a few shots of your own alcohol on board. However, no one is allowed to consume any alcohol while on a flight except that sold by the in-flight service. If you simply want to bring a sample taste of your homemade mead or bubbly for a friend, you are technically within the rules but may be taking a chance of an overzealous security agent confiscating it at the security checkpoint.