Bringing Nips (Mini Liquor Bottles) on Planes: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

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A day of traveling on an airplane can be stressful if you aren’t prepared. Do you know the rules for alcohol on your chosen airline? Let’s find out if you can bring nips on a plane!

What’s the Difference Between Nips, Airplane Bottles, Miniatures, and Mini Liquor Bottles?

Let’s get one thing straight first. “Nips,” “airplane bottles,” “miniatures,” and “mini liquor bottles” all mean the same thing. In this article, we’ll be referring to them as nips but keep in mind that they’re the same thing. Depending on where you’re from, you may call small 1.7 oz (50 ml) alcohol bottles “nips,” “airplane bottles,” or “mini liquor bottles.” There is no wrong choice; it’s up to you which term you wish to choose. They’re all synonyms, and the only difference is their popularity in different regions.

“Nips” is more common in Ireland, Scotland, and the Northeastern United States. In Dutch and German languages, there are similar words that mean “to take a sip”. Interestingly, the term has roots in Germany from as far back as 1796! It’s a slang shortening of nipperkin (which comes from the 1670s) meaning “quantity of beer or liquor of a half-pint or less.” Keep in mind that everywhere else, “airplane bottles” and “mini liquor bottles” are more common terms.

Can You Bring Nips (Mini Liquor Bottles) on a Plane?

absolut vodka in nips bottles in all flavors
Image source: Flickr

You can bring nips in hand luggage, but because alcohol is a liquid, you have to follow the TSA’s (Transport Security Administration) 3-1-1 rule. All of the mini alcohol bottles have to be 3.4 oz or less (100 ml) and have to fit in one quart-sized, transparent bag. Each passenger is limited to only one quart-sized bag, so you have to fit all of your other liquids, like toiletries, in the same bag. This rule is where the term 3-1-1 came about (3.4 oz bottles, 1 quart-sized bag, 1 bag per passenger.)

Also, if you’ve found a nip that’s over 70% alcohol (140 proof,), you won’t be able to bring it on the flight. All nips below 70% alcohol are allowed. Now if you want to store your nips in checked luggage, you’re not limited to just 3.4 oz bottles, and you don’t have to put them inside a quart-sized bag. And lastly, you can only bring nips that are unopened and in the original retail packaging. That’s to make sure that the content inside is indeed what it says on the label, and that the alcohol content is correct.

Read Next: Can You Bring Nicotine Pouches and Chewing Tobacco on Planes?

How Many Nips Can You Take on a Plane?

If you’re packing your nips inside of hand luggage, you’re limited to how many you can fit inside one quart-sized, transparent bag, together with all of your other liquids, including toiletries. If you’re utilizing this bag only for nips, then you can probably fit in around 7-12 mini liquor bottles, depending on how large they are. If, however, you’re packing nips inside of your checked luggage, the rules are a bit different. There are no limits on how many nips with 0% – 24% alcohol (beer, wine, and other liquor with low alcohol content) you can bring. However, if the alcohol content is 24% – 70% (whiskey, vodka, scotch, gin, and other strong liquors), you’re limited to only five liters in total. Nips with alcohol over 70% are prohibited from checked and hand luggage. It’s up to you if you want to leave out other toiletries and pack nips instead. We recommend planning ahead if you choose to go this route, like if you will need to purchase necessities at your destination.

Are There Any Limits For Duty-Free Nips?

When alcohol is purchased at the airport, after you’ve gone through security, it’s usually duty-free. Duty-free liquors can be in larger than 3.4 oz bottles, and there is no limit on how much duty-free alcohol you can bring on planes unless there are any additional rules set by the airline. If you purchase a large number of nips and other types of alcohol bottles, you may have to pay a customs tax. Anything over one liter (the combined amount of all liquor you’re bringing) will be charged with a customs duty. Potentially, you could bring any amount over one liter if you pay the customs duty, but unreasonable amounts could be classified as not for personal use, which will require a license.

That said, you should always remember to purchase duty-free nips right before your last flight on connecting flights. Otherwise, you would have to pack all of your duty-free liquors in your quart-sized bag together with your toiletries. That’s because duty-free items are allowed in larger quantities only for one flight, not multiple. Also, you should always keep the receipt to prove that you purchased your liquor duty-free within the airport.

Can You Drink Your Nips on a Plane?

mini liquor bottles stacked in a line
Image source: Flickr

One of the main reasons many of us would choose to bring a nip on a plan would likely be because we want to be able to drink them on the flight, right? Unfortunately, it’s illegal to drink your nips on a plane. This rule is enforced by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration,) and all U.S. airlines and airlines operating within the U.S. have to follow this rule.

Here’s an excerpt from their website:

FAA regulations prohibit passengers from drinking alcohol on board the aircraft unless it is served by the air carrier.

However, we did find one airline which allows you to drink your nips on airplanes – JetBlue.

Here’s the statement from JetBlue:

You may bring wine, champagne or beer on a flight for consumption during the flight if it is in an unopened container. If you’d like to drink the alcohol you carry on, you may give it to one of our Inflight crewmembers, and they will be happy to serve it to you.

Essentially, you can bring your wine, champagne, and beer, and they’ll serve it to you, which is completely compliant with the FAA’s rule. That said, if you drink a little too much, they may refuse to open any more bottles to avoid any disturbances. So make sure that you drink responsibly!

Can You Bring Mini Liquor Bottles on a Plane If You’re Under 21?

It’s illegal for minors (persons under 21 years old) to possess alcohol, even in checked or hand luggage. So, unfortunately, if you’re under 21, and traveling in the U.S., you legally can’t carry any nips, even if you live in a country where alcohol is allowed for 18-year-olds. Many minors tend to ignore this rule choose to do it anyway. Usually, security officers don’t cross-reference your age if they find alcohol in your luggage. So unless there are some other issues that cause additional inspection, you won’t have any problems with having alcohol in your luggage. And even if they figure out that you’re underage, they’ll just confiscate the booze and let it slide because they’re not the police. However, we would strongly encourage people under 21 to avoid bringing alcohol in their luggage, because it’s illegal under U.S. laws, and you could get in serious trouble. We don’t condone breaking the law!

How Many Ounces Are There in a Regular Nip Bottle?

Nips come in various sizes but usually aren’t larger than 3.4 oz (100 ml) which is the current airline limit for liquids in hand baggage. Most commonly, nips are in 1.7 oz (50 ml) or 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottles, which is the equivalent of one or two shots. Usually, strong liquor nips (30-50% alcohol) are in smaller 3.4 oz bottles, and wine and beer nips are in larger 3.4 oz bottles. That’s because people usually like to drink stronger alcoholic beverages in shots and lower alcoholic beverages in multiple sips.


So what did we learn about nips and the proper way to bring them onto planes? Let’s take a quick look at the main points we went over in this article.

  • Nips refer to any type of “airplane bottles,” “miniatures,” and “mini liquor bottles,” so keep this in mind when you’re looking at specific airliner’s rules.
  • All nips below 140% proof are allowed onto an airplane as long as you follow the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule.
  • The number of nips you can bring on a plane is dependent upon how many you can fit in a clear, quart-sized bag which includes all of your other toiletries.
  • Duty-free liquors that you purchased inside of the airport after you have gone through security can be in larger than 3.4 oz bottles. If it’s over a liter, you will be charged with a customs duty.
  • You can’t drink your liquor on airplanes unless you fly with JetBlue – they will serve it to you as long as it’s unopened.
  • It’s illegal for those under 21 to bring nips onto a plane headed for the US, regardless of what the rules are where you live.

In the end, you will have to weigh the importance of bringing nips with you onto the plane compared to other necessities as you can’t drink your liquor on an airplane. It’s certainly easier to purchase duty-free nips at the airport, especially if you do so right before your last connecting flight. That’s because duty-free items are allowed in larger quantities only for one flight so we recommend stocking up on your alcohol at this time.

Also check out: Long-haul flight survival

Other Frequently Asked Questions

We get questions about bringing items onto planes all the time. So we’ve written a plethora of travel guides where we answer the most commonly asked questions.

You can check them out over here:

This post is also available in: English Deutsch

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