How to check beer on a plane?
January 13, 2008 9:48 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to take an entirely legal quantity of beer across the continent, on a plane?

Backstory: I'm back and forth from San Diego quite often, and i'm heading there in Feb. AleSmith, Rogue, and a few huge beer stores are in and around San Diego, and I live in Ontario, which is a wasteland for good American microbrewed beer ;-)

If I'm in the USA for over 48 hours or something I can take 8.5L of beer back across the border, stuff I'd never get otherwise because it's not sold in Canada. So, last time, I bought flexible cooler from Wal-Mart and wrapped each bottle in bubble wrap...when I got to baggage in Ontario it was pissing out beer and half the bottles were gone. The rest was a broken mess.

Basically, how can I pack 12 or so wine-bottle-sized bottles of beer to check (since liquids are a no-no in carry-on) and have them survive the plane ride to Toronto? I can put one or two in my luggage wrapped in clothes, but certainly not many.
posted by geodave to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
12 or so wine-bottle-sized bottles

We used something like this to get a few cases of wine to Kauai for our wedding. We checked them as luggage, and everything arrived intact.
posted by toxic at 9:52 PM on January 13, 2008

Check out a used music/musical instrument store in San Diego for ATA flight cases. They're probably going to be expensive new, but you might find some good used deals. Some smaller cases come with foam you could cut to fit the beer. Good search terms might be "flight cases", "road cases" or maybe "rack cases."
posted by formless at 10:37 PM on January 13, 2008

Seconding toxic. A lot of friends come to visit me in California and I always take them wine tasting around Napa. Almost every winery carries styrofoam boxes to allow out-of-towners check their wine on the flight back.

If you don't find an online store then just stop by your nearest winery and pick up a case or two.
posted by special-k at 10:55 PM on January 13, 2008

Wine boxes? You can find wine boxes made of either wood or cardboard- try your local liquor store for free ones, maybe. Otherwise this site (among many others, I'm sure; this was one that came up in a quick google search) has cardboard boxes you could bring with you to San Diego flat in your suitcase and then check back. Whether they'll stand up to being manhandled, I don't know, but at least these boxes are designed for shipping.
posted by MadamM at 10:55 PM on January 13, 2008

Thanks a ton guys, I had no idea those wine mailers existed. This should work great.
posted by geodave at 11:01 PM on January 13, 2008

I recently traveled across the U.S. with about 8 750mL bottles. All I did was wrap a pair of pants or sweater around each bottle and stuff the gaps with smaller items. This worked for three separate flights. You should note that checking bottles also appears to guarantee your luggage is searched, as mine was searched all three times.
posted by christonabike at 11:28 PM on January 13, 2008

when I got to baggage in Ontario it was pissing out beer and half the bottles were gone. The rest was a broken mess


I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by mumkin at 11:42 PM on January 13, 2008

fyi...they sell those shippers at BevMo.
posted by clh at 11:47 PM on January 13, 2008

I'd bring it in my belly.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:22 AM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry for your loss.

I lost a barrel-aged Speedway Stout, Stone's Ruination IPA, and a series of trappist bottles.

I almost cried.
posted by geodave at 12:49 AM on January 14, 2008

With all due respect, maybe it would make more sense to scoot down to Buffalo some afternoon than to try to fly back with glass bottles filled with carbonation. Since you fly into Toronto I'm assuming you're in that area, and it's only an hour or so to the border.
posted by loiseau at 1:58 AM on January 14, 2008

SkyMall to the Rescue! Ridiculously over-priced, but if you use it enough, it will cost less than shipping the bottles. Plus, I know I have seen some non-aluminum check-baggage versions, and I've also seen some outside of SkyMall, where strange things are expensive.
posted by nursegracer at 7:24 AM on January 14, 2008

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