Wine Lovers, Airport Security, Corkscrews, & TSA Carry-on Wine rules

During this annual, heaviest travel period of  the year-end  holiday season, and with Thanksgiving as the largest US wine purchase period, my thoughts turn to corkscrews…

This one will leave your carry-on luggage faster than you can say " It's got a (tiny) knife blade foil cutter"

This rosewood beauty will leave your carry-on luggage faster than you can say "Oops - it's got a (tiny) knife blade foil cutter"

What?!?!

Airport Security makes business and pleasure air travel a pain no matter what the purpose, time, or place – especially for wine lovers who prefer traditional cork closures.

Frankly whenever, wherever, I’d rather drive for hours-and-hours than run the inconvenience of  airport’s TSA Security gauntlet (and the inflexibility of that scheduled return home flight).  Commuter airline terminals offer some crowd relief – usually tolerable if you can deal with the tiny cramped aircraft (with their very personable baggage handling pilots ;) ).  As a joke or maybe not – simply arming the cockpit would  have been a far cheaper alternative than an army of TSA agents ;).

Airline security alternative (humor)

Airline security option (OK it's *HUMOR*)

I’ve yet to read of an Airliner hijacked by a corkscrew or nail-clipper-cuticle-”knife” wielding terrorist.

Here’s a link to TSA’s prohibited items list no mention of corkscrews here.

BTW TSA even has a BLOG (how blasé blogs have become…)  at this link to TSA ‘s Blog there is mention of Corkscrews and nail clippers with blades:

“Corkscrews are a little tricky, but also permitted. Let’s be clear, corkscrews without knives. We know many corkscrews have the little knife that help cut the metal wrapping on a bottle, those are not allowed, but the little corkscrews with no knife are.”

LK350

Example of a nail clipper with offending knife blade

BTW the TSA blog continues “So to sum up, if you are the kind of person who likes to drink wine, knit and clip your nails, you are free to do all three in flight… So long as you don’t have any blades.”

I’d add you better have bought that wine in a post post-security check airport terminal shop.

For you purists that (properly) want to cut and remove capsules prior to removing the cork – to gain access to that-most-incredible-Nectar-of-the-Gods in the wine bottle,  you need a foil/capsule cutter on your TSA allowed  corkscrew  (unless you are a fan or master of the grab-twist-and-pull technique to-remove  the entire foil/capsule obviating the need for a foil cutter of ANY type.

Frankly I abhor pulling/bursting the cork through the intact foil/capsule as a boorish technique  in opening a wine vessel. But in times of distress or if  TSA scored your corkscrew OK I guess.  Doing so virtually assures a drippy mess when subsequently pouring and to allow the wine to touch the exposed jagged tin/aluminum/shrink-wrap “petals” may have taste ramifications.

This one will get you through TSA

This one will get you through TSA

Pictured to the right is the TSA allowed corkscrew you can find many on-line via Google Shopping at this link.

Am  I too snobby here? If so, please excuse my slavish adherence to this small bit of  bottle-opening etiquette/protocol.

The imfamous and apparently banned "Ah so" opener

The infamous and apparently banned "Ah so" opener

As for the infamous two pronged “Ah so” wine opener no specific word on it on the TSA site or Blog but readers have reported confiscations by stalwart TSA agents.

TSA Alcohol rules: link to them here

“Liquids, including alcohol purchased after clearing the security checkpoint are permitted aboard aircraft.

Carrying Alcohol In Your Checked Baggage

Please note, you can’t take alcoholic beverages with more than 70% alcohol content (140 proof), including 95% grain alcohol and 150 proof rum, in your checked luggage.

You may take up to five liters of alcohol with alcohol content between 24% and 70% per person as checked luggage if it’s packaged in a sealable bottle or flask.

Alcoholic beverages with less than 24% alcohol content are not subject to hazardous materials regulations.”

The rules for checked baggage are different than carry-on luggage and vary by airline.

Check with your airline for their packing requirement specifics. Generally any wine packed in commercial grade shipping packages/boxes are fine in your luggage or as a properly packed case of checked wine (additional baggage fees may apply – FedEx/UPS may be cheaper or have the winery ship it to your office/home). You can even have a waiter’s corkscrew with a foil cutting blade – just not in y9ur carry-on. For those of you like me, who carry-on almost exclusively, keep to the  retractable foil cutter version corkscrew.

So cheers to you as you negotiate  the airport security gauntlet and endure today’s air travel ordeals - at least the airlines are continuing to offer wine as a 1st class perk and pay-as-you-go  offering in Coach.

I’ve mentioned the following in my recent tweets on Twitter( follow us at as @eaglesnestwine):

  • The world’s airlines annually buy about 4.3 million gallons of wine – refuse to cut 1st class perk CNN: http://bit.ly/8Vzpo5
  • CNN: Airlines still offer fliers fine wine as a high-class amenity – one they refuse to cut http://bit.ly/8Vzpo5.

Please visit us at http://eaglesnestwinery.com to learn more about our award winning boutique wines wines and as a bonus, The Eagles Nest – our luxury wine-themed vacation villa with a view high above our vineyards and the Ramona Valley American Vinticultural Area (AVA).

Eagles Nest is a Southern California’s  wine lover’s premier getaway located 35 minutes northeast of Downtown San Diego.


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About Author: Dennis Grimes

13 thoughts on “Wine Lovers, Airport Security, Corkscrews, & TSA Carry-on Wine rules

  1. April 16, 2011 at 10:37

    Thanks for this article! Luckily, I have a spare key like the TSA approved corkscrew you pictured above, and now that I know, it will be going in my carry-on. Cheers!

  2. July 3, 2010 at 09:09

    This was just what I needed this morning. A good giggle. I have had several confiscated by the TSA hence why I never carry a favorite one in my purse. I do have them scatteered through picnik coolers and just aobut every piece of luggage. You never know when you will have a “wine emergency”.

    • Dennis Grimes
      July 5, 2010 at 09:12

      Glad we could share a laugh. The whole TSA corkscrew/liquids thing is aggravating.

  3. November 28, 2009 at 12:38

    I was recently sent one of the TSA”allowed” corkscrews from Montes Alpha and really like foil cutter, but the swing out arm does get in the way of cleanly extracting the cork. I’ve been packing wine in my checked baggage, since the rule change and not a casuality yet.. knock-on-wood (french or american).

  4. November 28, 2009 at 10:43

    Good info to know before you go. Remember to know if shipping wine to your destination county or state is legal. Some airline’s are pissy about checking a case of wine NOT packed in cushioned carrier, ie a plain normal case. My solution this holiday since it is a felony to ship into Maryland: ship the clothes/gifts. Carry the wine in my suitcase.

    • Dennis Grimes
      November 28, 2009 at 11:57

      Good grief “since it is a felony to ship into Maryland: ship the clothes/gifts. Carry the wine in my suitcase.”

      Well a wine lover must do what he/she must do!!! Thanks for the comment!

    • Dennis Grimes
      November 28, 2009 at 13:09

      Maybe there’s hope for MD. See my Tweet @eaglesnestwine #Maryland winos seek2join #DC & 35 states including #Virginia t/allow direct shipment of #wine to consumers
      WashPost: http://bit.ly/6qrI7m

  5. November 27, 2009 at 11:45

    Since the ultimate goal is to get the yummy liquid out of the bottle, I figure once in a while I can eschew the proper foil trim in favor of just hooking the foil with the point of the screw and tearing the whole thing off. You can also tear it with your fingernail… So skip the foil cutter completely or snap the knife off of a sacrificial corkscrew.

    I would presume/hope that therefore the “Ah So” style is also acceptable in carry-on…? thanks! – j

    • Dennis Grimes
      November 27, 2009 at 12:15

      No mention of the proverbial “Ah So” opener. I’d postulate that the long prongs would scare any red-blooded TSA agent as a potential dual-pronged stabbing weapon ;).

      • Joe
        November 28, 2009 at 07:14

        They have two of mine, I forget to pack them in checked luggage. I can’t imagine being threatened by someone with one of these and not thinking the attackers is crazy but I guess that is the point…

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