How a $7 drink nearly cost me $1,100

Tired of spending $7 for a drink on an airplane? There’s a solution! Go to BevMo and buy a few minis, put them in your carry-on liquids thing, and voila! Problem solved and (depending on how long a flight you’re on and how much you imbibe) tens of dollars saved!

Not so fast.

Last night I was flying back to San Diego from a quick, jam-packed business trip to DC – and somewhere in the trip that my flight attendants were on, US Airways replaced their Tanqueray with Bombay Sapphire. Who cares? After a long trip, I didn’t really – Hendricks is my thing, but I know I’ll never see that on a plane. I just wanted to enjoy my adult beverage in my tiny personal space in cattle.

Apparently, I was the only customer one particular flight attendant served gin to – because it wasn’t until she came to pick up the garbage on approach that she saw my Sapphire and blatantly accused me of violating federal law.

[quote_center]“Sir, you can’t bring your own alcohol onboard. It’s a violation of federal law!” she proclaimed to me – right next to a couple other passengers.[/quote_center]


Proof positive I didn’t violate federal code.

I knew I was in the right, so I wasn’t worried or close to being mortified. And to the flight attendant’s credit, she didn’t know that US Airways’ catering had begun to serve Sapphire instead of Tanqueray – so she immediately assumed I must’ve brought my own minis onboard.

But it turns out – despite plenty of people writing about bringing your own booze on board – the flight attendant was right. It’s in violation of 14 CFR 121.575 – which apparently has penalties of up to $1,100. Per violation.


The flight attendant was mortified about the situation, and I really kinda feel bad for her in the end – she did the right thing but to the wrong person.

Interestingly enough, a source of mine tells me that if you’re in First, you can give booze you brought onboard to a flight attendant and they will serve it to you. But if you’re sitting in First, your booze is free, so unless you’re bringing a bottle of Dom onboard, it’s probably not important.

But, in the end, I paid my $7 (which really isn’t that bad of a deal when it comes down to it), and I promise I didn’t violate federal law just to have a drink. Though, really – a $5,000 federal fine for bringing your own booze on board is probably a little steep.

Lesson learned: you CAN bring alcohol on board a plane in your carry-on. You just can’t drink it – unless you want that $2.50 mini you bought at BevMo to suddenly become the most expensive 3-ounce bottle of Bombay Sapphire on the planet.