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Jim Foster

Flying with wine

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My wife and I visit Italy each fall, and we like to bring home as many bottles of wine as we can cram in our carry-on luggage. Therein lies our problem. We would like to bring home more by finding a bottle-safe way to fly it as checked baggage, but we don't want to spend $300 on expensive "wine luggage" that we would use once a year. A friend suggests flattening a standard corrugated wine shipping box, then reassembling it for the trip home. That sounds "iffy" to me, so we're looking for some creative ideas. Suggestions?

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Every see how they handle luggage at the airport? A regular cardboard wine case won't have a bottle left in one piece and the airline probably won't take it anyway. You need at the very least the Styrofoam packaging designed for shipping wine.

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Styrofoam packs are good.

Another thought: Buy (if you don't already have) a very sturdy hard-sided suitcase with wheels. (Or two. :cool: ) Load it with sheets of bubble wrap and a roll of tape. Check it outbound. (If you're carrying overcoats, that might be a good place to stash them so you don't have to shlep them through the airport and on the plane.) In Italy, use the bubble wrap to protect the wine. Fill any empty spaces in the packed suitcase with clothing so the wine doesn't move around.

You might want to find out the weight limit for checked international baggage and calculate how many bottles you can carry per suitcase.


Edited by Alex (log)

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How about wrapping it in a couple of big, fluffy towels? Bear in mind wine bottles are fairly robust so as long as there's a couple of inches of pile they should be fine.

Brought back a bottle of Tokay essencia wrapped in some T-shirts and stuffed in the top of a very full backpack this summer. (no space in hand luggage - already had another four bottles of aszu!) No problems at all!

cheerio

J


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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I've successfully brought back 2 cases of wine packed carefully in hard-sided suitcases with bubble-wrap or as I just did 8 bottles in carry-on.


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Unless you're flying business class your biggest problem is going to be weight. May airlines nowadays have reduced the wright allowance and are being much stricter about enforcing it. Excess baggage charges are going to rather negate the great price you found for your choice of wines.

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U-Line, a company out of Illinois, sells pricey yet effective wine shippers. You could throw these around and they pretty much protect well. They take credit cards and you usually only have to buy 4 or 5 of each type (2 btl 6 btl or 12).


over it

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In Italy, use the bubble wrap to protect the wine.

I never found any use for the bubble wrap.

This kind of packing is not worth anything under pressure.

It is important to pack the wines in the same direction and as mentioned, wrapped with clothes and seperated by cardboard.

The clothe will also be able to isolate against extreme temperatures, at least for a while.


Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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I've successfully brought back 2 cases of wine packed carefully in hard-sided suitcases with bubble-wrap or as I just did 8 bottles in carry-on.

50 lbs a suitcase seems to be the norm.

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I usually just shove the bottles into my suitcase between clothes and (soft) gifts. They've never broken.

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Be careful. I used to actively take wine and check it as baggage (wrapped in bubble or clothing or both), but on a particularly turbulent flight had one of the bottles break in my luggage. You never know what state your baggage is in the baggage hold (or how much may been stacked on it) and you never know how it is going to be treated by handlers. If you decide to, make sure anything that is packed in the suitcase will not be damaged by wine (which essentially rules out clothing.)

I recommend buying one of the six-bottle carriers that Wine Enthusiast sells and using it as a carry-on (unless you are carrying pottery or glass, most other things should be able to go in your luggage. If you don't fill the carrier, put other things in it (great for food or other beverages you might bring.)


"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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A Mexican client of mine bought two bottles in 1999 (for the new millenium) at a price of about 50,000 Francs per bottle, then got really cagey when he heard the tax would double the price of the wine! He wanted to return the bottles, but the store wouldn't have it (obviously). I told him to bring it in hand luggage, and he got easily through the customs, and called me on the eve to wish we a Happy New Year!


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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We brought back 6 bottles from Italy packed in our cheap-o soft-side luggage with no problem. I worried that we'd find our suitcases by following the purple trail, but everything was ok.


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I regularly check wine as luggage. My preferred method is styrofoam packs and I tape 2 of these together and insert 20 bottles (leaving the 4 corners free). The weight limit is 32 kilos and if you exceed this, they will make you remove extra weight (since jan 1st 2003 - before that you could pay extra). I use the styrofoam that has four 'layers of 3' rather than the ones that look like an oversized regular cardboard case with a styrofoam moulded top and bottom. The reason is that the latter are larger and if you tape two together you exceed the size restriction.

I have never had a breakage (yet!) and have transported around 1000 bottles this way.

Of course, you have the problem of getting the boxes over there. But, if you don't have space, then how are you going to get them back? You're allowed two 'pieces' of luggage per person (which is why I tape them - only counts as one piece). Weight isn't an issue when they're empty.

Those who suggest hand luggage - don't try it! Again since jan 1 there's a hand luggage limit of 5 kilos (I've seen it enforced) and you risk confiscation anyway - glass can be used as a weapon. And wrapping it in checked baggage obviously can work, but not recommended because of the consequences if a bottle breaks (and eventually one will!).

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Bubblewrap must do the trick as well...


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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Many wineries here in Italy use Styrofoam packs to ship samples abroad. If you buy wine directly from the producers, you may ask them to sell you a few packs, so you do not have to carry them from home.

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I have brought back wine from Italy twice. First, I buy a styrofoam shipper at Mailboxes (in any average sized city - i.e. Alba, Piedmont) and use it to bring back a case. Secondly, I have brought back several bottles inside my SOFTSIDE suitcase wrapped up in clothing without any problems. Finally, I've put several more bottles (usually magnums) in my carry-on bag. I have never declared any of this wine and have never paid a cent in tax. On one trip, Customs did ask me what was in the box, and when I said a case of wine, they waved me right through.

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I regularly check wine as luggage. My preferred method is styrofoam packs and I tape 2 of these together and insert 20 bottles (leaving the 4 corners free). The weight limit is 32 kilos and if you exceed this, they will make you remove extra weight (since jan 1st 2003 - before that you could pay extra).

Is that 32 kilos per bag, i.e. total max for two bags is 64, or 32 kilos total?

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Last trip to Italy I used a 12 bottle styrofoam/cardboard box successfully.The problem was it was hard to lug around escecially Venice. My solution for this trip(Sept 26-October 11) is I bought a large suitcase at luggage for less in La($70),It is exaclty the size of the styrofoam stackable wine containers available at LA wine company. I will then fill the remaining spaces with foam (bought at a local foam store believe it or not) In this way I can get a highly portable(wheels) way to carry 18 bottles of wine and still be under the weight limit of 70 lbs for Alitalia, including the weight of the suitcase(10lbs).I will check the suitcase empty except for the foam and styrofoam on the way out,also taking a hard sided case empty on the way out for Ceramics,art or whatever else we buy,Maybe I can jam a few bottles in there as well! I also plan on carrying on 6 bottles but once was stopped by KLM because the carry on limit is 14 lbs(6 bottles of wine weighs about 20lbs plus) Robert

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We rent the same house each fall at Il Borro, a little village northwest of Arezzo, a mile or so south of the Seven Bridges road. Thanks for all the tips, folks. Incidentally, I've discovered at least three web sites that sell wine shippers: uline.com, dial-a-box.com, and mrboxonline.com. Each one has a slightly different structure, but all look good. We're probably going to ship two 12-bottle boxes over empty, and each should be under 50 lbs. coming back.

Jim

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Jim, Do you buy the current vintages or do you buy older bottles from enotecas or shops? I was thinking that

since there may be bargins in older vintages, may as well take advantage. RR

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Is that 32 kilos per bag, i.e. total max for two bags is 64, or 32 kilos total?

All baggage allowances are in 'pieces'. Each piece is subject to both size and weight limits. For international flights the limit is 32 kilos (70 lbs) per piece. This gives you max 64 kilos if you can pack perfectly (but you can't do one of 30 and one of 34). I tape two 12-packs together to get 1 piece. I've even taped a small suitcase to a wine box to achieve a single 'piece'. Even though this makes no sense 'logically' as the plane carries the same amount overall, the agents are required to document the number of 'pieces' (I'm guessing control and safety reasons) and they are much happier putting down '2' than '3' (I'm guessing they are supposed to charge for that extra piece and don't want to leave an audit trail - the maximum is 2 pieces without extra charge). I believe that within Europe the weight limit is less (as is the maximum size). Iknow that internal flights in UK is only 1 checked piece.

They are VERY strict on weight now. On my last 2 return international flights they have weighed each piece and I had to remove a single bottle once (it seems I had heavier glass for some reason - normally 20 bottles is OK). And they weighed the hand luggage (max 6 kilos 13 lbs) - fortunately I was OK there, even with the bottle I'd removed. Prior to jan 1st 2003 you could pay extra for overweight - but not any more. Neither will they allow you to 'ship' baggage as freight if it's overweight. Again, this was possible before jan 1st.

I have found some tolerance on size. When I had three pieces (1 suitcase and 2 pieces of empty boxes) they allowed me to tape the empty boxes together (to make a 4-case pack) so as not to charge me - but you can't count on that.

And one last caution - the size limit is 158cm (62ins) computed as length + width + height. If you use the top and bottom styrofoam (as apposed to the layer) you may exceed this measure if you tape 2 together (but a 12 + a 6 will work).

And they're much more lenient with First-Class passengers (I hear).

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