How to Drink on a Plane Like a Bawse

Stop paying $9 for a shitty chardonnay, okay?

Cocktail with fruit on the glass rim.
(Image credit: Design by Katja Cho)

Sometimes you just need a drink. And sometimes you find yourself on a plane—no business class, certainly no first class, no Southwest drink tickets, and no complimentary champagne from the flight attendant for being a good person and letting a family take your seat so they could sit together. Nope. None of that. 

So what's a thirsty gal to do? 

Take it as a lesson. Be prepared next time. This is how you can be, courtesy of me an expert.

1. First thing's first: You're going to need some alcohol. 

So, here's the thing. You can *totally* pack alcohol in your carry-on, as long as it follows TSA's 3-1-1 rule. (Containers have to be 3.4 oz or smaller and fit in a 1 quart-size bag.) But legally, you can't drink it on board—only alcohol you buy during the flight can be consumed. So unless you're a rebel, stick to buying your booze on the plane, and gussy it up by following our tips below. (Rebel? Well, just don't get caught—and don't say we didn't warn you.)

2. Feel fancy and pack a cute AF drink kit.

Look, grabbing a glass of wine is fine and dandy, but for a *good* drink that will make you feel like you're in first class, invest in a carry-on cocktail kit. They're 1) super cute, 2) can be used to make *two* cocktails, and 3) can also make a seriously fun gift, so grab a couple and keep 'em on hand for when you're flying out/need a last-minute present.

Three small cocktail kit tins.

Carry-on cocktail kits, $16 - 24;

(Image credit: Marie Claire)

3. Have a shortcut ready.

In your carry-on or purse, have handy: sugar packets (grab these from some coffee shop at the airport), a straw (to stir with), and a drinking glass (AKA a small, empty tumbler or canteen. Did you honestly think you'd be able to mix a cocktail in that itty-bitty plastic cup they give you?) If you can nab some fruit wedges, all the better. (They'll have these on the plane, but, you know–options are limited.) Once you have all that and some booze, you're ready to go. 

Here are some simple concoctions you can make with these combos:

A glass of champagne set against an airplane window showing the clouds and sky.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Tom Collins: Ask for a gin and club soda with ice, then add sugar and lemon juice. Done.

2. Daquiri: Ask for (white) rum and an empty cup. Add sugar and lime juice to empty cup (squeeze those lime garnishes, yo) and stir until sugar dissolves before adding rum. 

3. Gimlet: Ask for gin and limes and an empty cup. Add sugar to empty cup and add lime juice, stir until sugar dissolves. Add gin. Drink.

4. If anything, know what to go for. 

Save yourself (and your aisle mates) the hassle of bathroom breaks by getting the most bang for your buck. If you're going to order one drink, make it a good, strong one—bourbon on the rocks or gin and tonic are my recs. If that's not your bag, make it at least the tastiest drink you can—apparently, according to a study by a British scientist, a Bloody Mary beats out all plane cocktails on the flavor front, as your taste buds actually change at flying altitude. 

So there you have it—all the tools you need to drink like you know what you're doing. Goodbye forever, mini bottle of merlot.  

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Samantha Leal
Senior Editor

Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.