Who’s threatening us now: United Airlines!

Do you travel with wine? I did recently. And according to today’s NYT, there are a lot of wine professionals who do.

As if the Global War on Toiletries weren’t cramping our style enough by prohibiting us from carrying cabernet in the aircraft, now it is surfacing that United may be preventing wine from being checked in the hold.

According to a thread on Flyertalk, one passenger was denied checking wine in his luggage at the Los Angeles airport, LAX. The traveler put a “fragile” sticker on his bag and the staffer checking him in (wait, they have people doing that at LAX?) asked him why, he said he was taking a nice wine to a friend’s wedding. No go said the staffer. “She just started shaking her head and informed me that if UA “knows” that you are checking wine, they must ask you to remove the wine from your suitcase,” he wrote.

The traveler chucked the $90 cab in the trash. He must have decided not to chug it like this guy.

United, what are we supposed to do? Even though it doesn’t appear to be your official policy, this inconsistency is bad. Vintage variation? Fine, we can live with that. But travel policy variation? Nope. I’m putting you on notice, United Airlines!

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Thanks for the tip, Mark at Upgrade: Travel Better!

Related: “Who’s threatening us now: Homaro Cantu!” [Dr. V]

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5 Responses to “Who’s threatening us now: United Airlines!”


  1. And that becomes reason #185 why I shall not fly United. So now in addition to the mediocre service and a general disdain for flyers, constant overbooking and related delays, cramped seats and such, they’re now banning our Rieslings and Shiraz.

    Quite a contrast to American Airlines, whom I flew to NY with (while checking in a Coonawarra Cab). Explained at the check in desk that I had a bottle of wine in the bag, that I had wrapped/covered it in styrofoam and surrounded it with clothes, but would appreciate it if they could stick on a fragile sticker. No problems at all.


  2. 1. According to the TSA website, there is no limit on the amount of alcoholic beverage less than a certain precentage in checked baggage. (I don’t remember the number, but it was about 20%, which should mean most non-fortified wines qualify.)

    2. According to the TSA, wine purchased inside the secure area is allowed in carry-on luggage. However, Narita International Airport does not consider the area between security and the boarding gate a secure area. The airline official (Northwest) told me that Narita doesn’t consider it a secure area because passengers transferring between flights don’t have to go through security after disembarking from their earlier flight and going to the boarding gate for the next one.

    3. Further the forgoing comment, apparently, you can take duty free purchases into the cabin at some US airports (Detroit said I could) but for anyone who would like to beat the ridiculous charges for wine in economy class, good luck on finding a screw cap in the duty free shop. (TSA is not too happy with corkscrews.)

    4. Flying New York to Tokyo on Northwest, I packed 16 bottles of Fingerlake wine into my checked luggage. I packed it in two cut-down cardboard wine case, stuffed dirty socks, etc. around the necks of the bottles. One box was packed in a suit case with other stuff around the box so it could not move within the suitcase. The other box was placed in a large 70 liter rucksack against the frame on one side and soft stuff above below and behind it. Finally, six bottles were bubble warped and placed in the other (top) half of the suitcase, again with clothing and other stuff packed around it to prevent the bottles from moving. It all arrived safely.
    I think the secret is to be sure the bottles cannot move within the protected package. (And I forgot to declare it to Northwest: there were no fragile stickers. However, it was opened and inspected by the TSA. They left me a card.

    5. Finally flying from Guam (part of the US) to Narita Japan on JAL, I packed six bottles in the suitcase as described above. I declared it to the airline and got a fragile tag. Again the TSA opened the suitcase. And again everything arrived safely.

    Cheers, and many happy flights to you.
    BNJTOKYO


  3. This is still going on at United. I had four bottles of New Zealand reds, bought in NZ for about $125 (US), that I was told I had to remove from my checked baggage by the United agent at LAX. (There was no time to head over to the nearest UPS or DHL, so I ended up just giving them to a grateful janitor outside, who I hope enjoyed them.) Never fly United.


  4. Wow, that’s really too bad, Ranjit!

    http://www.united.com/page/article/0,6722,52062,00.html
    According to that page, there is no limit to the amount of wine that can be checked. However, wine in checked luggage must now be in a Styrofoam shipping container. So since most people will not have access to such containers, this probably for practical intents and purposes, means that most won’t be able to check wine in the hold. Very unfortunate.


  5. […] I was flying on United, I was a little wary. A previous commenter on this site had noted that the airline had confiscated his wine even though it was in his checked […]


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