Will Cans of Beer Explode on a Plane?

We get a lot of emails asking questions about places to visit in Costa Rica, which car rental agency to use, (it’s always this rental agency!) and much more.  But I got one that I thought was worthy of putting on the blog since it’s probably a common question.  Is it possible that cans of beer will explode on a plane?

No, beer will not explode on a plane!  In today’s guide, I’ll share with you how some perfect planning will ensure your beer not only will not explode on the plane, but also arrive safely and abide by all of the TSA rules.

Can You Put Beer in Checked Luggage?

la rana dorada
This beer had to come back with me from Panama!

Yes, you can check beer with your luggage!  Being from Minnesota and visiting very often, we always love to support the best local breweries and often times, this leads us to bring some back with us to Florida for future consumption.  Today I’ll dive into checking beer bottles and cans in your luggage as well as provide the regulations that exist and end with some tips on how to pack beer cans, or beer bottles, in your checked luggage so they get to your destination safely.

First, let’s take a look at what the TSA Rules are in regards to checking beer with your luggage.

TSA Regulations and Alcohol Limits

The Transportation Security Administration, (TSA) does have an official limit to the amount of alcohol you can possess in your checked luggage.  If you are looking to bring home alcohol from 24-70% ABV (proof, alcohol by volume are also other ways to say this) you’ll have a limit of 1.3 gallons or 5 liters.  Now, most beer will fall well under this number as most beers are 4 – 9%.

This being said, anything below 24% ABV does not have an limitation when it comes to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  However, before you go and buy that crate of your favorite craft beer, the problem you could run into that the weight of your luggage will come into play.  Most airlines do have restrictions on the weight allowed per passenger.

Beer in Checked Luggage

Again, it’s totally fine to pack beer in your checked baggage.  There are many ways you can properly pack your brews to make sure the weight isn’t a problem.

You’ll want to know how much your beer weighs, which will mostly depend on which size you get as beer is sold in all sorts of funky ways now from a mini 6 ounce can to a growler.  If we are talking about a 12 ounce can of beer, which is the norm, you’ll find that to way between .75 lbs and .08 lbs.  If you buy a “tall boy” you have a 16 ounce beer which is exactly one pound.

Do also know that you’ll have some packing material around your beer most likely, which will add weight to the cargo.  If you are really trying to make a score and bring home as much as you humanly an, consider buying a luggage scale.

If you aren’t a beer snob who regularly hunts for new beer and just want to bring home the occasional beer or if you found this website because you found one you just had to have more of and wanted an answer, know that you should only bring home beer that means something to you and that you can’t get elsewhere in an easy manner.  The added weight will really stack up quick, and even though you are checking your beer with your luggage, you still need to get it to and from the airport, off the baggage claim, and all that.  Airports are hectic enough, so I travel prepared at all times, but know that I hate heavy luggage!

Flying With Beer on Domestic vs. International Flights (Rules)

No matter if you fly domestically, or abroad, the rules are largely the same when it comes to adding beer and liquor to your luggage.  You still will have to abide by the under 24% ABV rule limits to carrying alcohol no matter where you are traveling.

Airline Rules for Transporting Alcohol

As a proactive traveler, I always reach out to an airline that may be new to me if I’m going to a new destination and it’s not my usual American Airlines or Delta airline.  This is because some airlines will have their own rules when it comes to traveling with beer and alcohol.  Most brands use the same rules, and they are clearly stated on their websites.  An example is below:

Example:  Delta Rules for Transporting Alcohol

Now if you aren’t interested in checking your booze, you can bring alcohol in your carry on up to certain TSA limits.  These are always mini bottles as well.

Buying Alcohol at Duty Free Rules

You’ve certainly had the option to buy alcohol at an airport duty free store, and this is usually done once you clear security.  They always wrap the products up safely so you can travel with them, but it’s also done so you don’t open them prior to your flight.

If you are bringing home alcohol for personal use, you are allowed 1 liter per person.  There are situations where you can bring back more, (I broke every rule in Cancun!) but you will face duties and fines if you are caught.  I rolled the dice with 18 bottles of tequila and the dice came up in my favor.  Do that at your own risk.

Can you Bring Your Own Beer on a Plane?

Using the same intel from the above TSA link, the answer is that you can bring up to 5 liters per passenger but only in your checked luggage.  Unfortunately, you can’t bring your own beer on a plane, so you’ll be limited to getting free beer in first class or having the option to purchase it if you aren’t.  Or hey, maybe your on one of those international flights in Europe that gives free booze to all classes.  Just know that you can’t consume your own beer that you carried onto the plane, even if you didn’t get caught bringing it onto the plane.

Declaring Liquor and Beer

When you cross borders you’ll have to clear customs if you are returning to the United States from abroad.  You’ll be required to declare every item you brought back with you.  In the case of beer, wine, and liquor, this goes in the category of a “souvenir.”  Also remember to adhere to the limits of bringing back alcohol.

In short, if you are over the age of 21, you can bring beer back the United States in your checked luggage without any paperwork.

Packing Beer In Your Checked Luggage

Here’s a step by step process for packing beer in your checked luggage.

Planning ahead is the most critical step in this process.  For example, when I visit Minnesota and know I’m coming home with some beer, I plan ahead and bring the proper packing materials.  The large Ziploc plastic bags are something I bring a few of no matter what my purpose of travel is, because hey, I may just want to protect something you bought there or maybe that late night hot tub session led to some damp swim trunks I had to protect so I didn’t need getting my other items wet.  Can you tell I’m a very calculated traveler?  🙂

What to Pack With You to Bring Your Beer Home Safely

Here’s a quick list of what I bring when I’m planning on packing beer in my checked baggage:

  • Bubble wrap that can be trimmed / sized to individually wrap beers
  • Plastic Ziploc bags
  • Plastic bags from the grocery store

If you like this list and want to pick up these items in one easy swoop, visit my Amazon Storefront!

Step 1:

Bubble Wrap

Every beer needs to be individually wrapped in bubble wrap if you really want to protect the beer.

Step 2:

Ziploc freezer bags

Insert as many beer cans in the Ziploc bags.  Make sure the bag seals shut without any potential risk of it opening.

Step 3:

Once you have the bubble-wrapped cans in Ziploc bags, insert these bags in the grocery store bag.  This will ensure they don’t slide around.  Tie the top of it so it’s extra secure.

Step 4:

olarhike packing cubes
Packing Cubes.

This step is optional, but if you use packing cubes like I do, I use them to house the grocery bags.  Packing cubes are designed to keep things secure so they don’t shuffle around during travel. I swear by them!

If you like this list and want to pick up these items in one easy swoop, visit my Amazon Storefront! 

Bonus Tip

To be extra sure, place the packing cubes with your beer in the middle of the suitcase or bag.  This way they aren’t against the side and subject to more bumps when in transport.  Items in the center of the bag have less propensity to shuffle around and break.  You can also use dirty clothing around the packed beers to try to lessen any possible blow during transit.


Will beer explode in checked luggage on a plane?

Only a very rare change in air pressure would cause a beer to explode.  The odds of your beer exploding in checked luggage is almost zero if you pack it securely.

Can you check beer in your bag if you are under legal drinking age?

No, you must be 21 to check beer.


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Tim Schmidt is a 20+ year Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer. A Fort Lauderdale-based "Digital Nomad," he enjoys traveling as much as possible with family and friends. AllWorld is his escape to document all of his adventures, including being a hardcore "foodie." He has property in Costa Rica and visits several times each year and is happy to offer his expert advice for planning your trip.

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