Carbonated beverages in luggage?
August 10, 2006 7:00 AM   Subscribe

Will a bottle of champagne pop its cork if put in one's checked luggage during air travel?

I'll be celebrating a special occasion with a friend during a long weekend away and would like to bring some champagne. Due to current TSA restrictions, though, I won't be able to put the bottle in my carry-on bag. If I use a large zip-loc bag and pack it well, should it be okay?
posted by Morrigan to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
No, it shouldn't. Pack it in a carboard box, bubble wrap and then a zip lock bag just in case it breaks in your baggage. Also to be on the safe side you may want to buy the champagne with the wire covering the cork.
posted by JJ86 at 7:11 AM on August 10, 2006

The pressure differential should have little to no effect on it. Champagne corks are made to stay in until pushed out, so as long as you pack it securely enough that the cork won't be pushed up by an external force, I would be very surprised if it popped.

I would frankly be much more worried about the bottle breaking. Baggage handlers are not typically very gentle with checked luggage, so if you can't pack it really securely, you're probably better off not packing it at all. My advice would be to either wrap the bottle in a bath towel (so that, if it does break, it has minimal effect on the rest of the contents of your suitcase, or, better, wait until you get to your destination to buy the champagne.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:17 AM on August 10, 2006

Can you have it shipped to your destination instead (using FedEx or some service with experience in shipping breakables)? That way you can label and pack it appropriately, and perhaps even insure it if it is an expensive bottle.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:55 AM on August 10, 2006

Are they banning all the liquid purchased behind the security-checkopoints as well? If not, you could just buy the champagne from the airport...
posted by slimepuppy at 8:22 AM on August 10, 2006

slimepuppy, yes. Only infant formula is allowed and they are checking that carefully, too, supposedly.
posted by Morrigan at 8:27 AM on August 10, 2006

Infant formula and prescription medication are allowed.
posted by raedyn at 8:36 AM on August 10, 2006

Champagne bottles are pretty good pressure vessels. I'd worry more about it getting broken by rough handling.

The rule for packing liquids is to pack it in a sealed bag with enough absorbent that even if it breaks it won't leak. The best way is put the primary container into a heavy plastic bag (freezer ziplocs are great for this), and put enough absorbent in the zip-bag (perlite or vermiculite is the best material, towels are ok in a pinch, but make sure you've got enough to absorb the 750mL of liquid in a bottle). Put the bag into a rigid outer shell, which could be your luggage or a good cardboard box. Keep in mind, six-foot drops are normal in baggage handling---that's what your package has to withstand.

If it breaks and leaks, even if the baggage handlers used it for football practice, the airline will be pissed and you'll have to pay damages, probably a few hundred dollars.
posted by bonehead at 8:36 AM on August 10, 2006

I've carried champagne in checked luggage on relatively short flights (Spain-France-UK) and it was fine.
posted by Lebannen at 8:55 AM on August 10, 2006

As has been mentioned before, there is no pressure difference between the cabin and the cargo hold on commercial aircraft. The cabin and hold are pressurized to the equivalent of about 8000 feet above sea level when you are at cruising altitude (around 35000 ft).
posted by cardboard at 9:06 AM on August 10, 2006

I've carried champagne in my checked luggage once or twice with no issue.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:16 AM on August 10, 2006

I've also got away with this.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:44 PM on August 10, 2006

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