How Is This Even Possible: Passenger Drinks Full-Sized Liquor Bottle On Domestic Flight

American Airlines won’t serve alcohol in coach until the federal mask mandate is lifted, so passengers are pre-gaming and – according to American’s CEO Doug Parker – they’re bringing their own alcohol on board.

The airline’s government relations team has been lobbying to get rid of ‘to go’ alcohol in airports. But when you buy alcohol to go it is generally a cup of alcohol or a glass, not a full 750 milliliter bottle.

A passenger took to twitter, though, to report on a “maskless passenger” who “drank a 750ml bottle of liquor” on the plane. How is this even possible?

  • The TSA doesn’t allow passengers to bring liquids over 100ml through their checkpoints.

  • Most airports don’t offer full bottle sales.

American Airlines flight AA6184 is a Richmond – Philadelphia flight operated by American’s wholly-owned regional carrier Piedmont with an ERJ-145 regional jet. My first thought was where on earth would a passenger get a full-sized liquor bottle inside the Richmond airport, some airports do offer cocktails to go but for a full bottle you’d probably need a duty free store.

However the photo is clearly not the interior of an ERJ-145. Instead, it’s a Boeing 737. So the flight may not have been departing from Richmond. I’ve reached out to the passenger for further clarification.

Flight attendants union head Sara Nelson, possible next boss of the AFL-CIO, wants alcohol gone from airports and planes entirely. There’s a long history of prohibitionist activism around air travel dating to segregationist Strom Thurmond in the 1950s.

Alcohol on planes is rarely a problem, though it’s a good idea to keep people off of aircraft that are already under the influence. American makes that a lot harder by reducing staffing at gates so overworked agents can’t spot potential problems.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Gary, there *are* wine bars in many airports — cannot speak to the Richmond airport — that also sell full 750ml bottles of wine which, as they are past security, *can* be taken onboard in the overhead. Still can’t open them though…

    Then again, wine is not liquor…two different things and I have no idea how/where anyone would get ahold of a 750ml of distilled spirits without bringing them from home and through a TSA checkpoint,

  2. Not my business, and one of the worst side-effects of this virus is that people forget to mind their own and not their neighbor’s business. Plus, if you lived in Philadelphia, you’d need to drink out of full size bottles too.

  3. I wonder if the person got duty-free internationally, kept it sealed in the bag for transit security at PHL, and then drank it on the plane once onboard? That’d be my guess and would explain the wrong flight number – the person reporting the incident probably flew RIC-PHL-??? and it was the 2nd flight this happened on.

  4. Do any airports leave you airside for a domestic flight after arriving on an international flight? If so, perhaps this was the second leg of an international itinerary and the liquor was purchased in the duty free shop abroad.

    The TV stations mentioned are in CLT, so RIC-PHL doesn’t seem correct.

  5. That’s a fifth. Unsafe to drink a full one in 2 hours but has been done. A “full size” bottle of liquor is a handle, with a 1,750ML. That you can’t do in 2 hours

  6. Agree it could have been bought in a duty free shop. But drink that much liquor that quickly a few times and the entire matter could be self-correcting…permanently.

  7. @Anthony —> Just to be specific, a standard or “full sized” bottle of alcohol (liquor or wine) is a 750ml bottle. A 1.75L bottle is a holdover from the old (English measurement) half-gallon size of liquor and is no way considered a “full sized” bottle.

    Since the 1970s when they mandated metric measurements, legal sizes for distilled spirits have been 50ml, 100ml, 200ml, 375ml, 750ml, 1.0L, and 1.75L. Additional sizes were authorized effective this year (2021): 700ml, 720ml, 900ml, 1.8L. See https://www.distillerytrail.com/blog/ttb-issues-final-ruling-keeps-distilled-spirits-bottle-sizes-and-authorizes-4-new-sizes/

    For wine, 27 CFR § 4.72(a) states: “Authorized standards of fill. The standards of fill for wine are the following: 3.0L, 1.5L, 1.0L, 750ml, 500ml, 375ml, 330ml, 250ml, 200ml, 187ml, 100ml, and 50ml.” § 4.72(b) states: “Sizes larger than 3 liters. Wine may be bottled or packed in containers of 4 liters or larger if the containers are filled and labeled in quantities of even liters (4 liters, 5 liters, 6 liters, etc.).”

  8. Could be a fake news story planted by Karen Nelson to try to pressure airports to stop selling alcohol.
    But since unions and media channels are so ethical and unbiased, I doubt that would ever happen.

  9. Brand new Firstname-BunchaNumbers Twitter account with no followers and following no one? Yeah, FA unions planted this one.

  10. If the liquid was actually liquor (as opposed to wine) and was 80 or more proof, then an entire 750ml bottle would be a lethal dose for a person who weighs 135 pound or less.

  11. All circumstantial evidence. Was the bottle full when boarding? Did they and possibly others drink some of it in the airport pre flight? Did they have other flights before that one?

    Lots of questions. All we know is they had a full sized bottle on board but how much was in it is not confirmed.

  12. I’ve stated before and I’ll say it again. American Airlines is a marketing firm that flies planes. Everything else comes second. To the haterS that dog the posting. STHU… We’re sick of flying with drunks…

  13. There are several airports where you can buy bottles of liquor while traveling domestically. Off the top of my head, the Westward Whiskey in PDX sells bottles, and several airports in Kentucky (Cincinnati and Louisville, for sure) have bourbon stores.

  14. This July, TSA at MSP Airport missed 95% of weapons, etc., that were brought through security as part of an internal test:

    Last Thursday, what’s referred to as the “Red Team” in town from Washington D.C., posed as passengers and attempted to sneak items through security that should easily be caught.

    In most cases, they succeeded in getting the banned items though. 17 out of 18 tries by the undercover federal agents saw explosive materials, fake weapons, or drugs pass through TSA screening undetected.

    Two sources told Fox 9 that the tests carried out Thursday were eventually stopped after the failure rate reached 95 percent.

  15. While we are on the alcohol subject, anyone have any insight into bringing a wine bottle opener in your carry on? I’m about 50% on hotels having an extra at the front desk and I’m hesitant on buying one for just one bottle of wine on a short trip.

    Only thing I can think of that won’t raise red flags is a 3” eyebolt with a short dowel to pull the cork out, crude but I can’t imagine the eyebolt would be a problem for TSA.

  16. Buy a $5.99 wine-bottle-opener at Safeway. Leave it in your hotel room. If you can’t afford a $6 loss, you shouldn’t be drinking wine in the first place. Option 2: buy wine with a screw-on top, there are plenty of them and they work just as well as the corked wine.

    Regarding the liquor bottle, perhaps it was empty when she went thru security. Then she filled it at a water fountain. Y’never know.

    People really do need to quit tattling.

  17. Mind djyo’ own. Quit worrying about other people that aren’t bothering you or have no affect on your day. Please. It’s freaking busybody rediculousness. Leave people alone big brother!!!!

  18. Flying from Kansas City to Seattle, I’m a lot more amicable with a couple cocktails traveling alongside someone coughing, someone sneezing, and 11 children crying than without. Why’s alcohol even banned right now? You still have to remove your mask for snacks, coffee, water, and pop…???

  19. This is sad. I have seen AA flight attendances serve two bottles of spirits at once. Then they complain about passengers being drunk and unruly.
    The limited amount of alcohol on a domestic or international flight should be no more than two drinks. The bottles they serve I can get two drinks out of one bottle. That’s truly all anyone needs.
    They are enabling the unruly passengers and denying other passengers who do not abuse the system. Heck my last flight with AA did not have even Dr. Pepper and I was in the air 9.5 hours. That’s sad!

  20. A few months ago a screening agent in Mexico found a wine bottle opener in my wife’s carry-on.

    It’s the small, cheap kind where you stick the handle into the corkscrew. It must’ve been in that pocket for a couple of years (based on the logo) and we completely forgot about it.

    It wasn’t flagged by TSA or security screenings in several different countries during that time. But I usually find foreign international flight screenings to be incredibly more through than any domestic TSA screening.

  21. AA6184 is it 1 hour 10 minute flight. Perhaps it was Ashley who drank the 750 ml bottle of hard liquor in an hour since she clearly can’t get her facts correct in her blatant attempt to get some freebies from @americanair.

  22. Looks like a Karen. The women in the picture looks to be pregnant so then she would be endangering her child? Probably someone hates someone else for whatever reason. The mask is an issue for sure though

  23. This is so obviously a false posting. I am a 40 year flight attendant…none of this rings even close to reality.
    Get your facts straight before posting stories!

  24. As a recovering alcoholic of 14 years it’s not difficult to finish off a fifth in that time frame. I would normally have a fifth in me by noon each day.

  25. You continue with your brand of crap inaccurate garbage reporting. Every airport sells full size bottles of liquor at duty free.

  26. @ByteMe – not every airport *has* a duty free shop, remember the flight that the passenger identified as being on (though I don’t think that was the correct flight)

  27. So, you can drink in business and first class, but not coach? What does that have to do with the mask mandate?

  28. The bottom line is, it’s all about control. I am so done with all this covid!
    One Day we’re told to mask up! The next day we’re told we don’t have to mask up. It’s so political and I don’t believe anything the gov or Lord Fuchicci is saying anymore.

  29. I’m calling BS on this story.
    1st the woman looks pregnant, yes there is no mask but a full bottle of booze? Highly doubtful.

    2nd it’s not even the correct plane for the story.

  30. There is a shop inside Cincinnati airport (CVG) that sells full 750 bottles of bourbon. It’s inside security.

  31. LOL…pregnant?? Seriously? You all need your eyes checked. That woman is north of 50 so I seriously doubt she expecting. She’s FAT. In fact, if she’s an alcoholic (and she’d have to be to drink that much in such a short time span and still be breathing) it may just be ascites which is the bloating alcoholics get from cirrhosis of the liver.

    And frankly, I don’t care about drunk and passed out but, if people can get kicked off flights for their toddlers not keeping their mask on, then drunken adults need to be given the boot as well.

  32. Meantime all we see is a sleeping woman; probably someone who rubbed the offended “reporter” the wrong way and they made up this elaborate STORY.

  33. On the cork screws… with blade, no carry on, without blade, carry on per TSA website
    I’ve had forks and knives taken that came from airport lounges of defunct airlines so go figure….lol
    And by the letter of the law you can bring your own liquor on board and consume it as long as it is served by a member of the crew….
    Don’t believe it?
    Look it up, that’s exactly what the law says as published.
    No brandy available inflight? Bring your own and explain what and why and many FA’s will gladly comply….
    Have fun with it, the restrictions are silly enough as it is LOL

  34. @Byteme — as Gary said, not every airport has a Duty Free store, AND even those that do typically do not have one in every single terminal.

    Personally, I see no difficulty in obeying the law that says you can’t drink your own alcohol on a plane, any more than I do in wearing a mask.

  35. Great example of a government (or in this case airline) policy with unintended consequences. Let’s ban guns, that will make them magically go away (ever visit Baltimore or Chicago?). Let’s give $1T to poor people for 4 decades and poverty will be eliminated (how’d that work out?). Let’s ban alcohol on planes to prevent people from drinking on planes.
    Here’s an idea: how about making policies that make sense for the vast majority of us who have brain and know how to behave and then regulate on those who don’t. When you treat everyone like they are an imbecile who needs to be controlled you shouldn’t be surprised when you get pushback.

  36. The point that stands out to me that was buried in the story, was the AA (ironic abbreviation considering )
    Have taken the moral stance not to serve alcohol in economy however, have no such concerns serving in business.
    Total hypocrisy.

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