Flying can be a stressful experience for many people. Having a drink or two at the airport bar beforehand may seem like a good way to take the edge off. But is it legal to board your flight drunk or tipsy? What consequences could you face if you’ve had too much to drink before a flight?

This comprehensive guide will examine everything you need to know about getting drunk on a plane.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: While airlines and legal regulations don’t prohibit being drunk on a plane, boarding while intoxicated or becoming disruptive mid-flight due to drunkenness can result in serious consequences including removal from the plane, fines, and even jail time in extreme cases.

Airline Policies on Drinking Before and During Flights

When it comes to drinking alcohol before and during flights, airlines have specific policies in place to ensure the safety and comfort of all passengers. These policies address both boarding while intoxicated and consuming alcohol while onboard.

Rules about boarding drunk

Most airlines strictly prohibit passengers from boarding a flight if they are visibly intoxicated. This is because being drunk on a plane can lead to disruptive behavior and pose a risk to the safety of the flight.

Airlines want to ensure that all passengers are able to enjoy their journey without any disturbance.

Additionally, airport security personnel are trained to identify intoxicated passengers and may deny boarding or intervene if they believe someone is too intoxicated to fly. This is done to prevent potential incidents and maintain a calm and pleasant atmosphere onboard the aircraft.

In-flight alcohol policies

While airlines may offer alcohol as part of their in-flight service, they have specific guidelines in place to ensure responsible consumption. Passengers are typically limited to a certain number of alcoholic beverages during the flight.

This limit varies from airline to airline but is generally set to prevent excessive drinking and the potential for intoxicated behavior.

Besides, flight attendants are trained to monitor passengers for signs of intoxication and may refuse to serve alcohol to individuals who have had too much to drink. They have the authority to cut off alcohol service to maintain a safe and comfortable environment for everyone onboard.

It’s worth noting that airlines have the right to take further action if a passenger’s behavior becomes disruptive as a result of alcohol consumption. This can include issuing warnings, restraining passengers, or even diverting the flight to remove the unruly individual.

For more information on specific airline alcohol policies, it is recommended to visit their official websites or contact their customer service. Airlines prioritize the safety and well-being of their passengers, and these policies are in place to ensure a pleasant and incident-free journey for everyone.

Relevant Laws and Regulations

FAA Regulations

When it comes to alcohol consumption on airplanes, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established strict regulations to ensure the safety and well-being of passengers. According to FAA regulations, it is legal to consume alcohol on an aircraft, but there are certain limitations and guidelines that must be followed.

Firstly, the FAA prohibits passengers from consuming alcohol that they have brought onto the plane themselves. Passengers are only allowed to consume alcohol that is served to them by the airline staff. This is to prevent any potential issues with alcohol tampering or excessive consumption.

Additionally, flight attendants have the authority to refuse alcohol service to any passenger who appears to be intoxicated or disruptive. They are trained to assess the sobriety of passengers and make responsible decisions regarding alcohol service.

It’s important to note that these regulations apply to both domestic and international flights operating within the United States. Airlines and their crew members are required to comply with FAA regulations to maintain a safe and secure environment for all passengers.

Open Container Laws

While the FAA allows for alcohol consumption on planes, it’s crucial to understand that open container laws still apply. These laws vary from country to country and even from state to state within the United States.

In most cases, once a passenger boards an aircraft and the cabin door is closed, they are subject to the laws of the country or state they are departing from and arriving in. This means that if a passenger is caught with an open container of alcohol during a flight, they may be subject to legal consequences upon landing.

It’s important for passengers to familiarize themselves with the open container laws of their departure and arrival destinations to avoid any legal issues. While it may be tempting to bring your own mini-bottle of your favorite drink on board, it’s best to adhere to the regulations and guidelines set forth by the FAA and the airline.


Potential Consequences of Being Drunk on a Plane

While enjoying a drink or two on a flight can be a pleasant way to relax, it’s important to remember that being drunk on a plane can have serious consequences. Airlines have strict policies regarding intoxicated passengers, and violating these policies can lead to a range of repercussions.

Removal from the flight

If a passenger becomes visibly intoxicated or exhibits disruptive behavior, the airline crew has the authority to remove them from the flight. This is done to ensure the safety and comfort of all passengers on board.

In such cases, the intoxicated passenger may be escorted off the plane by security personnel or law enforcement officers. It’s worth noting that the decision to remove a passenger is at the discretion of the airline and crew, and they have the final say in such matters.

Diversion of the flight

In extreme cases, when a passenger’s behavior poses a threat to the safety of the aircraft and its occupants, the pilot may decide to divert the flight to the nearest suitable airport. This is done to address the situation and allow for the removal of the intoxicated passenger.

Diverting a flight can cause significant delays and inconvenience for other passengers, as well as incur additional costs for the airline.

Fines and legal action

Being drunk on a plane can have legal consequences as well. In many countries, it is a criminal offense to be intoxicated on an aircraft. Passengers who engage in disruptive behavior due to intoxication may face fines, legal charges, and potential imprisonment.

Additionally, airlines may pursue legal action to recover any damages caused by the intoxicated passenger, including the cost of diversions or compensating other affected passengers.

It’s important to remember that airlines prioritize the safety and well-being of their passengers. Intoxicated individuals can pose a risk to themselves and others on board, which is why airlines take the issue seriously.

It’s always best to drink responsibly and know your limits, especially when you’re thousands of feet above the ground.

Tips for Drinking Responsibly Before Flying

Know your limits and drink in moderation

While it may be tempting to enjoy a few drinks before your flight, it’s important to know your limits and drink responsibly. Excessive alcohol consumption can impair judgment, coordination, and reaction time, which can be dangerous both on and off the plane.

It’s important to remember that the effects of alcohol are intensified at high altitudes, so even a small amount can have a greater impact on your body.

Allow enough time for alcohol to metabolize before boarding

If you do decide to have a drink before your flight, it’s crucial to allow enough time for the alcohol to metabolize before boarding. The average human body metabolizes alcohol at a rate of about one standard drink per hour.

This means that if you’ve had a few drinks, it’s best to wait a few hours before boarding to ensure that you are sober and alert during the flight.

Be aware of interactions with medications

If you are taking any medications, it’s important to be aware of how alcohol may interact with them. Some medications can have adverse reactions when combined with alcohol, such as increased drowsiness or dizziness.

It’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist to understand any potential interactions and make informed decisions about drinking alcohol while on medication.

For more information on responsible drinking and its effects on air travel, you can visit reputable sources like FAA or CDC. Remember, enjoying a drink before a flight can be a pleasant experience, but it’s important to prioritize safety and responsibility when consuming alcohol.


While being drunk on a plane is not outright illegal, it comes with serious risks and potential consequences. Following airline policies, drinking responsibly before flights, and not becoming disruptive mid-air are important to avoid issues.

Ultimately, it’s best not to board a flight while intoxicated or to limit alcohol consumption to avoid endangering yourself and others.

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