Travelling With Booze
The BYOB rules for planes, trains and boats
Go to the FAQ section of any airline, cruise line or train company and you’re bound to find a question about alcohol consumption. Specifically, many query something along the lines of, “Can I bring/drink my own alcohol onboard?”
Alcohol is an important part of travel for many people — from relaxing nerves to toasting a vacation — but it is also an inherently expensive part. Savvy travellers are always looking to cut costs and BYOB is one way to do that. Another perk is that you have the freedom to drink your preferred wine, beer or spirit. But is it allowed?
According to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), duty-free alcohol is permitted in carry-on luggage as long as it complies with the 100 ml (3.4 oz) limit for all liquids.
Many major Canadian airlines, including both Air Canada and Air Transat will allow the mini bottles of alcohol to be brought on board, but they do not want them to be consumed during your flight. Air Transat goes as far as to specifically state on its website that while bringing mini bottles online is allowed, “consuming ‘carry-on’ alcoholic beverages” is considered disorderly behaviour which could ultimately result in a meeting with a local law official upon touchdown, as well as hefty fines and even jail time.
Both airlines do offer alcoholic beverages for purchase and international flights usually include a complimentary glass of wine, beer or spirits.
WestJet adheres to a strict no-alcohol in carry-on luggage policy, instead offering alcoholic beverages for purchase from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m. Selling alcohol allows the airline to generate revenue and allows flight attendants to monitor the state of the passengers.
Air Canada has taken a step in the direction of enticing wine enthusiasts to travel with them and purchase their drinks by enlisting wine expert Ken Chase to choose the vintages served in the sky. Chase, a trained wine maker and viticulturist, studied oenology and viticulture at the University of Melbourne.
Many passengers, for many years, have been getting around the ‘do-not-imbibe-your-own’ rule through careful planning and slights of hand, but be prepared to face the consequences if caught. Regardless of where the booze comes from, be sure to know your limits. No one wants to spend their trans-Atlantic flight next to someone whose had a few too many and you certainly don’t want to be the cause of an incident that delays the flight.
If you are travelling across or around our great country via train, you might not have to be so clandestine. For Canada’s largest purveyor of train travel, VIA Rail, the consumption of your own personal alcohol is allowed, but in sleeping car cabins only. Provincial laws forbid passengers from consuming their own drinks elsewhere on the train. Alcoholic drinks are available for purchase on the train and you can check out the wine list for various travel regions here.
No matter where you set sail from, most cruise ships want you to buy drinks on their vessel and forbid outside alcohol (an exception being Disney Cruise Line.) Some cruise lines, like Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line among others, do allow bottles of wine and champagne to be brought on board, but expect to pay a corkage fee.
Wine lovers should also take note of the Celebrity Wine Experience cruise offered by Celebrity Cruises, which includes European destinations, cellar tours with a sommelier and a choice of over 500 wines.
Cruise ships are similar to planes in that those who try to smuggle alcohol aboard the ship have to be willing to accept the consequences (confiscation, fines, early end to vacation.) It has been done before and creative types will continue to come up with every possible method to trick officials, but there are risks involved.
So, when it comes to travelling with booze, when in doubt — leave it at home.
Written by Lynn Wayling. Photo by AdamSelwood