Let’s get one thing straight first. “Nips,” “airplane bottles,” and “mini liquor bottles” all mean the same thing. In this article, we’ll be referring to them as nips more commonly, but they’re the same thing.
So can you bring nips on a plane? If so, how many nips can you bring? And can you drink nips during the flight?
We’ll answer all of these questions down below, in a short and easily digestible manner. Let’s begin.
Which One Is Correct: Nips, Airplane Bottles, or Mini Liquor Bottles?
Depending on where you’re located, you may call small 1.7 oz (50 ml) alcohol bottles “nips,” “airplane bottles,” or “mini liquor bottles.” Neither one is wrong. 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,” which is probably where this word originated from.
Everywhere else, “airplane bottles” and “mini liquor bottles” are more common terms.
Can You Bring Nips on a Plane?
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 zip-lock 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. Hence, the name 3-1-1 (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,) unfortunately, 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 only 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.
How Many Nips Can You Take on a Plane?
If you’re packing your nips inside 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 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.
Are There Any Limits For Duty-Free Nips?
When alcohol is purchased in 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 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 one 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 Own Nips on a Plane?
Unfortunately, it’s illegal to drink your own 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 own website:
FAA regulations prohibit passengers from drinking alcohol on board the aircraft unless it is served by the air carrier.
That said, there is only one airline that we found, which allows you to drink your own nips on airplanes – JetBlue.
Here’s an excerpt from JetBlue’s website:
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 own 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.
Can You Bring Mini Liquor Bottles on a Plane If You’re Under 21?
It is 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.
That said, a lot of minors 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 you 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 the U.S. laws, and you could get in serious trouble.
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.
Mini liquor bottles, other called nips or airplane bottles, are allowed on planes, but in limited quantities. If you don’t purchase them within the duty-free zone, you’ll be limited to only one quart-sized zip-lock bag.
But if you’re purchasing nips in the duty-free zone, you essentially have no limits on how many you can get. Just remember to keep the receipt and show it before boarding the flight.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to drink your own nips during flight, unless you’re flying with JetBlue. So getting a few nips as gifts for your grandfather’s “cough syrup” won’t get you into any trouble, but if you plan on consuming it during flight, you better get them straight from the airline’s menu.