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How to Fly With Beer in Your Checked Luggage

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How to Fly With Beer in Your Checked Luggage

Depending on where you’re flying, this may or may not be legal. Do your homework. If it is legal for you, here’s how to fly with beer in your checked luggage like a pro.

 

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(Sturdy zipper bags and a trusty luggage scale – everything you need to fly with beer in your checked luggage)

I don’t usually travel specifically for beer, but when I travel, I get beer. I usually get far more than I should because I want to come home and give it to all my friends, so packing it up in my luggage has been a learning experience. While packing for a recent trip to Colorado, it dawned on me that I should share some of the lessons I’ve learned.

It took a bit of pain, frustration, and lecturing from my wife… But I’ve learned the hard way how to fly with beer in your checked luggage, so you can learn from my mistakes.

I usually have to learn things the hard way, but when given a choice, I prefer to learn from other people’s mistakes. Hopefully you can skip some of the frustration and fussing!

How to Fly With Beer in Your Checked Luggage and Avoid the Fees

I’ve got a few bougie friends that refuse to fly on certain airlines. I just don’t get it. Nobody comes home from a vacation raving about how great the flight was! It’s just a means to an end, so I try to fly Southwest. Fair fares, good service, and two free checked bags.

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That last bit is key.

At 55lbs a piece, that’s a total of 110 lbs for those of you that don’t math real good. If you go above 55lbs, they’ll charge you a fee. I can’t speak specifically for other airlines, but if you’re trying to figure out how to fly with beer in your checked luggage, this is the first thing.

At roughly 1lb per can, the math remains easy, but weighing your luggage can be tough. That’s why I never travel without this bad boy. Best $10 I ever spent. More on this later.

How to Pack Clothes to Leave Room for the Beer

Now that we have airlines and weight out of the way, let’s talk about packing. Unless you’re just going for one day, you can’t pull up with a completely empty suitcase. That means you’ll need to pack clothes, shoes, toiletries, and so on, right?

Duh.

It’s how you pack that really matters. If I’m going somewhere warm and tropical, this doesn’t matter as much, but let’s say… Colorado in the winter is different.

I try and wear my biggest shoes, biggest coat, biggest everything on the plane. While we’re taxiing on the runway, I always end up a little warm, but once we’re in the sky, I’m cozy and comfy. My last few flights have been so cold in the sky.

I lay out all my shirts in one flat stack, and then I put a stack of pants/shorts on the shoulders of the stack and fold up. This gives me a big, cozy, fabric taco that I can fill with beer, protecting it from any rough handling.

This method of packing also keeps my clothes from getting super wrinkly. You’re welcome.

How to Fly with Beer in your Checked Luggage and Pack the Beer Safely

Speaking of rough handling, one of the most common questions I’ve gotten when people ask me how to fly with beer in my checked luggage is how to literally pack the beer.

I always grab a few zipper bags before I travel. Gallon bags and quart bags. 1-2 cans per quart bag, 2-3 cans per gallon bag. This way, if something does happen to bust, it’s somewhat contained.

You may have noticed by now that I’ve exclusively said cans. I’ve never tried to bring home bottles, and I won’t start any time soon. That’s just me, but if I did, I’d probably tape them like Samber, and then do everything else the exact same way.

How to Check in Your Luggage

I’ll never forget the first time I decided I was going to mule a bunch of beer home in my suitcase. It was a Nashville trip with some of my best friends. Nashville is such a fun city, and the mid-country location means there are a ton of great breweries that get distributed there. There are also more than a handful of breweries that are worth hitting up!

I ended up with a ton of beer. It was stupid. I’ll admit it.

As I’m bagging up all the beer on the kitchen table of our AirBnb, looking like a washed up suburban hipster drug dealer, my wife asks how I’ll fit it all.

Don’t believe me, just watch.

I fill the suitcases to the brim, sit on them to zip, all’s well. I told you I could do it *sassy AF*

We pull up to the airport and check our bags. I put the first one on the scale. 45lbs. *Smug* Dang I’m good. The lady muscles it onto the conveyor, and down it goes. I pull up the second bag. 60-something. I don’t remember the exact level because what ensued was some Karen-level frustration and fussing.

“It’s ok, sir. It’s just $75 for an overweight luggage fee.”

Oof. BIG oof.

“$75 DOLLARS!? Daaang.”

I explain to her in my least patient voice that I’m not about to pay no dang fees because she put my other bag on the conveyor, and now I can’t shift the weight to my lighter bag. This lady was a vet. She didn’t even flinch, she knew I wasn’t about to budge either, and the line behind me was already long. She took off briskly and then reappears just as quickly as she vanished.

Like Batman.

She’s holding a brown cardboard box.

Quietly, with her tilted head down, eyebrows raised, and head on a swivel for anybody being nosey, she whispers – almost through her teeth – to me… “Here. This should be big enough.” She hands me a Sharpie and proceeds to tell me, “We usually don’t do this, but just put your name, phone number, and address on this box, and fill it up real quick.”

*Zzzzzip*

Wife’s blow dryer, some boots, a 6 pack, and some other random things that I could fit… they all go into the box that this kind, patient woman provided to my stupid self. I hand it back to her, she tapes it up, and she promptly puts it on the conveyor. “Enjoy your flight, sir.”

Dang. Southwest is the realest.

I failed to mention that my wife already took off because we were running late for our flight, so I do my best dad-bod airport sprint to catch up to her. I won’t even tell y’all how much grief she gave me once I caught up to her, but my beer arrived safely along with our luggage, and all was well with the world. The homies got a bunch of cans, I took the obligatory IG beer wall pic, and I learned from this lesson.

The key take away here is always put the heaviest bag first when checking luggage and move down to the lightest. This holds true wether or not you’re trying to fly with beer in your checked luggage.

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(My trusty little luggage scale)

Conclusion

  1. Pack your clothes in a way that leaves room for the beer, and wear your biggest coat/boots on the flight
  2. Pack the beer safely by double bagging it with sturdy plastic bags
  3. Get a luggage scale – it’ll pay for itself very quickly
  4. Put your heaviest bag on the scale first when checking your bags
  5. Share with your friends when you get back home

If you take away only one thing from this ramble, get a freaking luggage scale. The one linked is not the exact same one I got because mine’s out of stock. But this one looks just like mine. We’ll get like 10¢ if you click that link too.

So when I travel, I always head out with a half-empty suitcase that’s full of plastic zip bags and my trusty scale. There’s something really satisfying about sharing a bunch of cans with my friends that they wouldn’t have access to (without trading or buying from a service like Tavour – another affiliate plug here – use our code “BEERCHRONICLE” for $10 off your first order).

Grabbing cans has become a part of my traveling routine.

Do you ever travel for beer or make it a point to grab some whenever you’re traveling for work? If so, let us know if this was helpful, or if you have any other tips! Drop a comment below!

Beers to you, Houston.

 

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Anthony Gorrity
tony.d@beerchronicle.com

Anthony's a Houston native, a Creative Strategist at https://ledgeloungers.com/, an adjunct instructor of Visual Communication at Lone Star College, and a UH Coog that loves good beer almost as much as he does his city. Anthony lives to help others and that's found a home helping some of the coolest breweries on earth with creative and marketing projects that can be seen on our Portfolio page. Fueled by hoppy lagers, sessionable IPAs, and gangster rap, he's ticked his way through H-Town, rocking the most unusual Nikes he can find. When he's not writing for us, he's with his family or very patiently rooting for the Rockets.

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