Whether you’re traveling with your spouse or your friends, or you’re taking a vacation solo, you’re bound to find yourself on an airplane before too long.
If you’re like most people, you’ll probably take advantage of the opportunity to bring along something that can help make the journey more enjoyable – such as a good book or your favorite DVD or Blu-ray, snacks and treats from home, or even a corkscrew and bottle of wine for dinner when you arrive at your destination.
Can You Bring a Corkscrew on a Plane? You might think that airline regulations prohibit people from taking corkscrews onto airplanes, but you’d be wrong. Despite rumors to the contrary, corkscrews are permitted in your carry-on luggage and don’t pose any problems for TSA agents—just leave them attached to your bottle opener keychain.
While wine is allowed as checked baggage on most flights (you can also take it onboard in its original box), bottles must have screw caps or other permanent closures; removing these will likely result in confiscation of your liquor.
1) Bring it in your carry-on luggage
The TSA doesn’t specifically state that corkscrews are allowed in carry-on luggage, but it does mention that you may bring wine or liquor in reasonable quantities for personal consumption.
So you’re within your rights to pack one there (especially since most airports have plenty of options for where to buy alcohol once you reach your destination). Just be prepared to show TSA agents what it is if they pull it out during the screening.
And, obviously, don’t attempt to use it as a weapon—or bring any other potentially dangerous item on board with you. You can check out our detailed post on everything travelers should know about traveling with wine and alcohol here.
2) Wrap it
Passengers have been stopped from bringing corkscrews through airport security for years, even though you can legally buy one once you reach your destination.
To avoid all that trouble, simply wrap your corkscrew in tinfoil or put it inside an empty ink cartridge. You’ll still be able to uncork that celebratory bottle of wine at dinner — just don’t do it in front of TSA officers, who may think you’re going to use it as a weapon!
When wrapping your corkscrew, make sure there are no serrated edges poking out and get creative with whatever material you have available. Tinfoil works great but so does duct tape or bandages. Anything more than about three inches is likely to get confiscated by security agents.
3) Keep it discreet
To avoid extra scrutiny from TSA agents, pack your corkscrew in your checked luggage. You should also have it tested in advance to make sure that it can’t be seen by agents who are performing security checks of handbags and small containers.
Also, refrain from using it at airport or onboard: although not illegal, corkscrews are strictly prohibited for security reasons. If you’re travelling by air as a part of business trip or leisure travel, hide your corkscrew until you land and ensure that it stays out of sight during check-in and while on board.
4) Label it as a corkscrew
If TSA agents have questions about your corkscrew, be honest and label it as such. If you claim it’s just a keychain, they might confiscate it and give you trouble later. Luckily, TSA agents are typically lenient when it comes to corkscrews—unless they’re brand new and in their original packaging (weird, right?).
However, if you do get an agent who gives you grief over it, ask to speak with his or her supervisor; most of them will understand what you’re doing and let you through with your corkscrew. This is especially true at smaller airports with fewer TSA agents; they may be more likely to take pity on would-be vintners.
5) Check the length and width restrictions
Before you buy, make sure you can get it through security (this will vary from airport to airport). Check with your airline ahead of time if you’re not sure. You don’t want to buy something only to find out at baggage check that it doesn’t meet their requirements.
One trick to know is that most screwpull corkscrews are under 7 inches in length, which is an easy measurement for TSA agents at security checkpoints. So when they ask you how long your corkscrew is, don’t say 6 1/2 inches— just tell them it’s less than 7.
6) Hide your weapon, only kidding
If you’re planning to bring your corkscrew with you, then we should hope you have something to uncork. Whether it’s a bottle of red wine or champagne for that special date or dinner party, there are some things about traveling with one (legally) that are pretty well-known but maybe not so easy to remember.
Here’s what you need to know before boarding your flight with a corkscrew in tow. Don’t get too drunk, even if you have to wait: Because planes operate at such high altitudes and cabin pressure is lower than usual, it takes more alcohol for your body to get drunk.
It also takes more time — potentially giving security agents plenty of time before you pass out in your seat.
7) Use it for its original purpose, only no, really
Whether you’re a fan of wine or not, there’s something to be said for bringing one of your favorite bottles with you wherever you go. Cheers to that. Just don’t get caught trying to bring it through security.
A corkscrew is considered sharp, and it must be placed in your checked baggage—whether it’s attached to your wine opener or not. The same goes for any knife, box cutter, razor blade, scissors…you get it.
Basically, we’re saying leave your Swiss Army knife at home if you want to avoid added fees (or embarrassment). You can bring steak knives and plastic cutlery though—just make sure they’re clean before going through security!
Related: The 15 Best Corkscrews
Carry-on or Checked Luggage?
If you’re a cheapskate, you can save yourself from having to pay a fee for checking your luggage by bringing a corkscrew with you in your carry-on bag, but don’t rely on that rule as a rule by which you should always do things. Check the TSA’s baggage policy on this page for the latest rules and guidelines. If you need more corkscrews, the Costco, Sam’s Club, and Bed Bath & Beyond stores offer a corkscrew in their free samples.
Also, they are usually a good price. And, if you are looking for a useful gift idea, the corkscrews made by Emako are among the best in the business. If you want a wine glass with a corkscrew built into it, this one from Buckler (which was named the best travel wine glasses in a blind tasting on Decanter) will be of interest to you.
Rules for International Flights
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, it is illegal to carry a corkscrew on an aircraft. However, they have a waiver. It states, “If you have an individual Airline First Class or Business class ticket that has a maximum carry-on bag size of 22″x14″x9″, you may bring a corkscrew.” To review, here is what your carry-on bag should be.
Packing Suggestions for Bringing a Smaller Carry-on Bag There are plenty of options when it comes to packing a carry-on bag. There are cases, backpacks, shoulder bags, purses, and suitcases. If you’ve got a small bag, perhaps a suitcase will be easier for you to pack and will take up less room in the overhead bin.
Travel Between the US and Another Country
Travel between the U.S. and another country may require additional security or just take a little bit longer to go through, so make sure you check the official government guidelines in that country. Some countries are more lenient than others, so be sure to check the information ahead of time. If it’s a long flight, try to schedule your trip in advance to avoid any hassle.
Corkscrews are allowed on planes. The Dominican Republic actually permits corkscrews as carry-ons. Here’s what the Dominican Civil Aviation Authority said on the issue: “There is no specific document that says corkscrews can’t be transported on planes. They just don’t have special privileges. … They can be transported as the only possessions travelers can bring on the plane.
International Flights to the US
Corkscrews are allowed in carry-on luggage on flights to the United States. This is also true for airlines, such as Air France and Delta, and for American Airlines. A corkscrew must be easily accessible for serving purposes and can be left in your carry-on luggage for up to 6 hours. There are a few reasons why your corkscrew may be restricted to your checked luggage.
Checked baggage allowance whether you’re checking luggage to go to another city or a flight overseas, you’ll need to check your bag’s capacity. Only the larger pieces of luggage may fit into the overhead bin, while you’ll need to pack in your carry-on. This is where you can opt for a luggage scale and be sure the bag will fit.
It is common practice to take out corks from bottles before you put them in the original container because the corks will break with any movements, and potentially cause a problem for the drinker, who may then become upset and demand a refund. The challenge is finding a corkscrew that fits in your pocket, is slim enough to slip inside your carry-on, and is small enough to do its job when needed.
This is why we suggest investing in a corkscrew that can be easily taken out without damaging your pocket, including one from Wine Enthusiast, Amazon, Crate & Barrel, and Oliver-Miller. We also recommend taking the extra step to remove corks by hand when you don’t have access to your wine opener (say when you’re visiting a new destination).