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Never Drink This on a Plane, Flight Attendant Warns

You should avoid sipping on this while mid-flight at all costs.

Traveling by plane can be full of plenty of unexpected twists and turns, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on. But the one constant that remains no matter how long your flight may be is the mid-flight service and the opportunity to have a beverage in the sky. But before your next trip, you should be aware of the one thing that flight attendants warn you should never drink on a plane. Read on to see what shouldn't be in your cup at 35,000 feet.

RELATED: Never Forget to Do This After Boarding, Flight Attendant Warns.

Never drink personal alcohol you bring onto a plane during a flight.

A close up of a person drinking a cocktail on a plane

For some, being up in the sky provides the perfect excuse to kick back and enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine. But if you're planning to make a drink with any personal alcohol you've brought onboard yourself, industry experts warn that you should think again.

"It's prohibited, and you could be banned from future flights with the airline if you're caught, so it's not worth the risk," Arina Bloom, a flight attendant with two years' experience, writes for Business Insider. "Even if you think there isn't a flight attendant around, you'd be surprised how often other passengers let us know."

While it may not seem like a necessity when you're seated in a place where someone will bring your drinks, COVID-19 precautions saw the sale of alcohol banned on many flights. As a result, there's been an uptick of passengers breaking into their own illicit stash of hard liquor, wine, and beer on planes, Frommer's reports.

Federal law prohibits passengers from consuming their own booze on flights.

A flight attendant wearing a face mask onboard an empty plane

No matter if you're looking to avoid having to pay for a drink during beverage service, working around flight rules, or can't wait to sample a special bottle you picked up on vacation, serving yourself on an airplane can have some serious consequences. In fact, the orders come straight from the top: Regulations posted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) "prohibit passengers from drinking alcohol on board the aircraft unless it is served by the air carrier."

In response to the uptick in events, airlines and regulators have become proactive in preventing passengers from breaking into their own personal stash of alcohol. In March 2021, the FAA fined a passenger on a flight from New York to the Dominican Republic $14,500 for refusing to wear a face mask and drinking his own alcohol on the plane, local Los Angeles CW affiliate KTLA reported.

"I think that most people assume that what they do with the contents of their bag is at their own discretion, the same way you'd bring a bag of mixed nuts on the plane," Gilbert Ott, founder of the travel blog God Save The Points, told The Washington Post. "I think there's definitely a lack of awareness or thought behind it."

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You can still bring bottles of alcohol onboard as long as they remain unopened.

Flight attendant greeting passengers
Hananeko_Studio / Shutterstock

However, just because you can't break into your bottles while up in the air doesn't mean you can't travel with them. According to the Transportation Safety Administration, passengers can have alcohol in their carry-on luggage that's packaged in containers that are 3.4 ounces or less, is under 70 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), and can all fit into a single quart-sized zip-top bag. Bottles purchased at duty-free stores in the airport are also allowed on board, provided that the bottles are packaged in a "clear, tamper-evident bag" that remains unopened, and you hold on to the receipt to prove you purchased them within the past 48 hours.

But the same rules still apply once you're airborne. "Our airline partners and the FAA ask that you don't drink your own booze while flying," the TSA wrote in a blog post. "Let's leave the pouring to the pros! And be sure to check your airline's website to make sure they are cool with being a designated flyer for your hooch."

You may want to hold off on drinking too much alcohol in the air altogether.

man pouring more beer into his cup on the plane

Even if you're planning on sticking to the beverages doled out from the cart, you may want to hold off on drinking any of the hard stuff. As the surge in recent incidents has shown, overindulging while on a flight can lead to some bad outcomes—or at the very least, leave you feeling dehydrated and hungover when you arrive at your destination. For that reason, you should try to drink even less than you would normally.

"Keep in mind that one drink in the air is the same as two drinks on the ground," Rana Good, a travel expert with Naïra NYC, previously told Best Life. "A lot of people get extremely drunk on airplanes not knowing this phenomenon and make the flight very uncomfortable for themselves and others. Stick to one or two cocktails max."

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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