Alcohol on Airplanes

What’s more fun than drinking on a plane?

You’ve got a few hours to kill with nothing to do (and probably less going on when you arrive), and after the time you just spent getting herded, strip-searched, and stressed out in the airport, well, you kinda deserve it, right?

Except sometimes it’s not as awesome as you think. Just ask Alec Baldwin. Or Courtney Love. Or David Hasselhoff. Yes, when done properly, drinking on an airplane is the best.

Emphasis on “done properly”. A lot of times, though, it’s not a great idea.
And here are 9 reasons why.

You may feel more intoxicated
In case you failed sixth-grade science, the air at 36,000 feet isn’t breathable this is why airplanes are pressurized.

Even still, the cabin air has far less oxygen than you would breathe if you were on the ground and, though some studies have shown booze doesn’t have much effect on your BAC, it can still be metabolized faster and exacerbate the effects of altitude sickness.


Age restrictions
When you’re in the sky, technically there’s no age restriction on buying alcohol.
No official one anyway.

Individual airlines can choose their own rule but they usually stick to the laws of the country where they’re registered.

So if you’re with an American airline, you’ll probably have to be over 21.

While you’re on the ground though, the laws of the country you’re in usually apply.

‘One drink in the air is equal to three on land’ – or is it?
According to the UK’s flight regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), low air pressure when flying effectively thins the blood.

That means the effects of alcohol can be stronger.
But some experts aren’t convinced. They think you may feel drunk because flying conditions mean less oxygen gets into your brain.

Drinking limits
There’s no specific limit on how much you can drink on a flight, but it is a crime to be drunk on board an aircraft.

Cabin crew have the right to refuse to serve alcohol to any passenger.

You can’t board your connecting flight
And since those two light beers on the ground may have hit you more like a couple of Four Lokos at altitude, you’d better hope that two-mile walk through DFW to your connecting flight clears your head.

Gate agents are required by law to stop you from boarding the plane if you appear intoxicated. Which is entirely subjective.

Motion sickness is a lot worse
Because nothing settles down your nervous stomach like milk, Kahlúa, and pressurized oxygen.

You might get arrested
Airlines have a right to refuse to carry passengers if they think they’re a potential risk to the safety of the aircraft, its crew or passengers.

That could include them being drunk or showing signs of having used recreational drugs.
It also applies to anyone using “unacceptable”, threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour.

If the plane’s already taken off it could land early and passengers can be escorted off by police on landing.

Serious offences could even lead to fines or prison sentences.
Each airline has its own procedures for dealing with disruptive passengers.

Alcoholic beverages
Permitted as carry-on or checked baggage – A maximum net total of 5L per person is permitted providing the alcohol is contained within retail packaging.

The alcohol must not be more than 70% alcohol by volume and consumption alcohol carried on board is not permitted on the aircraft.