| Packing Beer For The Plane
by Charles B. Murphy
Hello Bob and Friends-
I just came back from a fun beer vacation and thought I'd pass along
a few tips about bringing back some of those great beers that
simply are not available at home. If you’re traveling by air within the
U.S., there are several options. One is legal and the rest are a mixed
bag. For the record I do NOT recommend anything illegal or quasi-
The not-so-legal route – and more expensive – is to ship yourself
the beer in a package by the usual carrier services. Although many
give a nod and a wink to this particular law without repercussion, it is
illegal to ship alcohol via the U.S. Postal Service without a license.
That’s why people rely on UPS or FedEx, where it’s merely against
the company policy to ship alcoholic beverages without a license.
(Don’t ask and don’t tell.)
The biggest drawbacks of this method are the cost and treatment
packages can get, making it more likely bottles or even cans could
be damaged despite efforts to protect the contents during packing.
The best rule of thumb is to use the same Styrofoam inserts used by
those who ship wine. And if you get breakage forget about payment.
The legal, cheapest and best option to bring beer home is via
checked luggage.It is also a good way to take beer with you
especially if you're going somewhere good beer is not available.
Wine lovers have been flying with bottles for years, which has
spawned a variety of special luggage made expressly for carrying
bottles in a checked bag. Manufacturer of hard-sided luggage
generally create padded foam inserts, such as the VinGarde Valise,
or the WineCruzer. There are also makers of soft-sided roller bags
with special inserts to protect the contents..
A more practical method is to ship your favorite beer in cans inside
your regular luggage. Of all the advantages that cans bring to craft
beer, the portability on airplanes may be one of the biggest.
The regulations for U.S. flights limit alcohol in checked luggage that
exceeds 24 percent ABV to five liters. Beer doesn’t fall into this
range, so the only limit is the 50-pound maximum on weight per
passenger – and even that is negotiable if you’re willing to pay an
additional fee. Not only are cans manageable, aluminum is lighter
When it comes to bottles shipping either via checked luggage or by
the package delivery method.I advise plenty of cushioning and
wrapping in plastic in case of breakage. Here are four simple things
you might try. Don't worry I've done them all and all work.
1.Wrap that bottle or can in a Ziploc bag just in case, then secure
with a rubber band, then wrap it in squishy clothes like a sweatshirt
or sweater. Make sure to place the beer bundle in the center of your
2. if you’re planning to transport a decent amount of beer, a
dedicated "beer box" might be your best bet: “Pack a Styrofoam
cooler. It’s best if you can find a snug box for it to fit in as that will
help it stay intact while making it through checked baggage.”
3. Sneakers or shoes as a cushioned cradle, or wrapping each
bottle in its own piece of your clothing.
4. Every can or bottle gets its own layer of a shirt or pants, then a
mid-layer of clothing between beers keeps them from bumping into
each other, and a shell of soft stuff between all that and the outside
of my pack keeps them protected from impact.
One word of caution. The law allows the Transportation Security
Administration to check the contents of any luggage before it is put
on a plane. It is not unusual for checked bags with bottles or cans to
be inspected. As long as they are in the original packaging, beer is
not a problem.
Bob, I love to bring beer back from my trips as I think many of your
readers might so I hope this might be of value to them.
Thanks Charles!. You've given us some practical and effective ways to
to ship beer safely I often get e-mails asking that very question. From
now on I can just refer them to your article.
Again, many thanks for sending your article.
I'd like to invite everyone to send me their own columns about anything
related to beer in any way just as Charles did. I select the best and
publish them here. So join in and get writing!
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