Traveling with Wine
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

One result of the ever-expanding police state is that air travel has ceased to be a pleasure. And now, with the 3-1-1 Rules of the TSA, it is almost impossible to travel with wine. In the good old days, one could buy a bottle or two (or more) of fine wine and tote it home in one's carry-on luggage. No longer. Wine has joined nail clippers with emery blades and toothpaste as alleged terror weapons of the skies. The TSA, flexing its power to tell the traveling public what they can and cannot do, has decided that there will be no more wine bottles in carry-on luggage. In fact, no liquids in containers of more than three ounce can accompany you onto the plane, assuming you had the foresight to pack all those three ounce containers in a single one quart clear zip lock bag.

Those traveling to wine country now face a government-mandated crisis: How to get their precious cargo home. Several solutions have surfaced.

In my opinion, it is always wise to have the winery ship the wine to you. The Post Office simply refuses to ship wine. UPS and FedEx are reluctant to ship wine from private individuals. Their concerns are probably over broken bottles. However, they will let approved wine merchants ship the wine. I am sure this is due to the fact that the wine merchants must properly pack the wine to prevent breakage. Wineries who get the reputation for bad shipping practices are probably dropped from the list of those who can ship wine with these shippers. This is good for the shippers and good for you, the wine consumer. Letting the winery pack and ship your wine almost ensures that it will reach you in an unbroken condition. Just ask about wine shipping charges before making your purchases, and figure that expense into the per bottle cost of the wine.

I have also read stories on the web of shoppers taking some bottles to a wine shop, buying enough bottles to make up a dozen, and having the wine shop ship the entire group to the buyer. This technique, however, depends on finding the right wine shop--something on which one cannot always depend.

Which brings us to shipping wine as part of one's checked luggage.

Don't even think about slipping a couple of bottles into your suitcase. Airlines will often let you ship a box of wine, if the packaging meets their guidelines. Each airline has its own policy on shipping liquids, including wine. Sometimes these policies are simple; sometimes they are complicated. If you are going to try this, I recommend you go the the website of the airline and carefully read and follow their policy. And then, hope you get someone who knows the policy. I also recommend you print out the policy in case a dispute arises. I have read horror stories on the web about situations where the left hand does not know the policy of the right hand. You can easily get caught in a situation where your wine is left behind.

Still, for those who want to play Russian Roulette, below are the wine shipping policies of several airlines. Good luck, and happy drinking!

American Airlines Restricted Items Policy

Continental Airlines Fragile and Perishable Items Policy

Delta Airlines Fragile and Bulky Items Policy

Southwest Airlines Alcoholic Beverages Policy

United Airlines Alcoholic Beverages Policy

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