How To Fly With Wine Like A Pro

We all know how it feels when flying with wine! While you're stuck in your seats at thirty thousand feet up in the skies, you’re constantly wondering whatever might have happened to that checked-in wine bottle you so fondly picked up as a unique souvenir.

Carrying bottles of wine on a flight is daunting for most of us, what with the constant risk of breakage, heat fluctuations, and also with the hassle of following several travel rules and restrictions. Don’t fret, however, since flying with wine isn't as difficult as you think.

how to fly with wine in luggage

Here are 5 smart tips for flying with wine like a pro:

1. Choose the right luggage

The mandate of flying with your wine bottles in check-in baggage and not in cabin baggage necessitates choosing sturdy checked luggage. You need to ensure that the wine bottles have sufficient padding to cope with any impacts your checked bag or suitcase may experience. On average, a wine bottle weighs 3 pounds, so, you can use up the individual airline-allotted weight of the checked luggage accordingly.

At the airport's checked baggage counter, your bag is sure to go through tossing and jostling and might end up passing swiftly on the conveyor upside-down as well as backward. Therefore, it’s wiser to invest in a hard suitcase rather than one made of canvas to diminish the effects of an impact.

Alternatively, you can go for innovative wine luggage such as a reinforced, well-padded wine check bag. A perfect wine accessory, the foldable and reusable wine check bag is an extremely lightweight, airline-approved stroller. When used in combination with a shipper box or sturdy wine protectors, this bag can safely carry as many as fifteen bottles of wine, protecting them against significant impacts and resisting the crushing of glass.

What’s more, the wine check bag also functions like a cooler, maintaining constant levels of temperature and pressure, thus protecting the delicious wine.

Suitable for a range of sizes of wine bottles, the wine bag offers you the flexibility of carrying back several varieties of wine, including champagne and Porto.

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2. Pack wine carefully

If you're using a wine check bag, you have ready-made wine protectors to cushion not less than 15 glass bottles. However, while using a hard suitcase, you’ll need to follow certain precautions as you pack your wine bottles in the bag. Also, in the worst case, if you’re using a canvas suitcase which is so susceptible to impacts, you’ll have to take even greater care as you’d surely not fancy your sherry bottle ruining a lovely summer suit.

In general, don’t pack the wine bottles around the sides of your suitcase. Use soft clothing as padding to line the suitcase, then nestle the delicate bottles right into its center. If you happen to purchase wine on your trip impromptu, wrap the bottles up in unimportant clothing such as pajamas, and socks. You can also place the wine bottles inside a plastic shopping or laundry bag for added protection.

If you’ve already planned to bring wine back home, and, that too, more than a couple of bottles, a safer option is to use bubble wrap, leak-proof vinyl wineskins. Throw a few of them in your suitcase when traveling.

On your return journey, you just need to place the wine bottles inside the wineskins or sleeves and nestle them in your bag’s center. The wineskins, with an adhering seal, not only cushion and protect your wine bottles but also prevent spoilage of your clothes in case the bottles break.

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3. Comply with the Customs Guidelines

Before purchasing wine for taking back home, be sure about the Customs dos and don'ts of flying with wine. So, it becomes essential to check for quantity limits and whether Customs duties (taxes) apply to wine for taking off from your exit country. Also, know your destination country's duty-free allowance for wine, as you need to pay additional tax for anything above it.

For instance, while departing from the U.S. you can take back an indefinite amount of wine, unlike a Jameson, intended for individual use as long as it fits within the specific air carrier’s weight regulations. These guidelines hold for bringing wine from overseas, say France inside the country also, however, while dealing with the U.S. Customs, on arrival, you’re eligible for only 1 liter of wine duty-free.

In general, at the airport, make sure to declare to the Customs Department any quantity of wine exceeding the duty-free limit. In case you need to pay any taxes to Customs, you can do so by using most of the bank as well as credit cards, or cash, or even currency transfer methods. This way carrying your delicious wine back home will certainly be smooth sailing for you.

4. Claim your VAT Refund

Before leaving for your home country, and before you and your wine set out homewards, remember to reclaim the Value-Added Tax (VAT) on its purchase. VAT, a part of the total price of the wine could qualify for an appreciable refund.

For instance, whenever you buy wine in Europe, intending to carry it home, request the retailer or winery to provide you with a 'tax-free form'. Some retailers follow a practice of paying you back the VAT there itself, while others complete the tax-free form which you can then reclaim at your departure airport.

In the latter case, you’ll have to bear a charge related to the refund service, which is usually a portion of the VAT you're about to claim. At the airport, before you check in your baggage, just hand over the necessary paperwork to the Customs Department officers. After examining your goods, they will authorize and stamp the documents.

Once you’re done with the customs formalities, take the paperwork to a tax refund officer for a low-charge, instant service. Elaborate, though this all seems, you’ll become a pro at it after doing it just once or twice.

5. Don't let the 'Bottle Shock' shock you

As you unpack after getting back home, you'll suddenly realize that the wine, originally so vibrant and flavorsome just a few days ago now appears dull and disjointed. This phenomenon, known as “Bottle Shock” typically occurs as the wine bottles shake during travel.

Not to worry, though. Consider this issue as a jet-lag for the wine bottles. Just as all is fine again after you sleep well at night, so also will the wine recover in due course of time.

It’s advisable to store the wine bottles properly for a couple of weeks before you open them. Consider vital aspects such as light, temperature, humidity, and positioning while finding a space for wine storage.


Isn’t it much easier now? Follow these smart tips to fly with wine like a thorough professional, ensuring the safe passage of your precious bottles all over the globe.
Kalyan Panja