Can You Take Coffee on a Plane After Security? Key Travel Tips

coffee on plane after security

It’s early. You had to get up at 5 am to catch a flight, and you’re tired. But you know what fixes being tired? A fresh hot cup of coffee. There’s plenty of coffee shops at the airport, so you plan on buying one after getting through security. But can you take coffee on a plane after security?

The answer is yes, you can take coffee on a plane after security. Almost always. The only exception is if your coffee has alcohol in it. Almost all airlines do not allow passengers to bring open alcoholic beverages on their flights. So as long as you’re enjoying normal, virgin coffee, you’ll be good!

There are some other factors you need to consider, however, when taking coffee on a plane. In this article, we’ll go over how to take coffee on a plane in the most effective manner, as well as other ways to enjoy a coffee while at the airport.

Let’s jump in.

Why Can’t You Take Coffee on a Plane Before Security?

Air hostess is making coffee for passengers

Coffee is a liquid, and liquids above 3.4 ounces are not allowed through security. This is because liquids above this size can be used to make harmful substances that could obstruct the flying of the plane. 

Author Note: They could be used to make a bomb, acids, or other dangerous chemicals that could be used to hurt individuals. Because of this, the TSA has banned all liquids and containers that have more than this amount, including beverages like coffee. 

What’s the Best Way to Take Coffee On a Plane?

Now that you know that you can buy coffee once you get through the security and bring it on the plane, let’s go over some of the best strategies for enjoying your coffee at the airport. Traveling can be stressful, and you don’t want to make it worse by spilling your coffee or not having time to buy any.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Buy Coffee at the Airport

The most important strategy for buying coffee at the airport is to give yourself enough time. Believe it or not, you’re not going to be the only one wanting to buy coffee at the airport. This goes for all times of day – not just in the morning. And even though airport coffee is super expensive.

This means that you should not cut it close with how much time you’ll have after security. You might need to wait 15 to 20 minutes to get your coffee if it is really busy, or it’s a slower hipster coffee shop. If your flight is boarding and the coffee line is long, you’ll run the risk of missing your flight.

Or you won’t get your coffee.

Have One Carry-on Item or Use a Backpack

Having only one carry on item will give you at least one hand to hold your coffee. If your personal item is a backpack, then you can also have a carry on item and hold your coffee. It might seem like common sense, but you would be surprised how many people realize they don’t have an empty hand to hold their coffee.

If you want to be really hands-free, we recommend checking your bag before you go through security. Then you’ll be able to take your coffee on the plane after security easily. 

Store Your Coffee in a Thermos

View of coffee cup holding by mans hand in front of a airplane window in-flight on aircraft

Another option if you don’t have a free hand or want to keep your coffee warm for a long period of time is to store it in a Thermos. You’ll still need to buy your coffee after you’ve gone through security, but once you’ve bought it you can transfer it to an empty thermos. 

Top Tip: Once the coffee is in your thermos, you can throw it in your bag or carry it with you. Just remember to empty it before the next time you fly! You won’t be able to take it back through security (not to mention it will need to be cleaned).

Order Espresso

One way to avoid carrying a coffee cup around with you if you don’t have a free hand is to order an espresso. Espresso is much easier to drink quickly than coffee. If you order a shot of espresso, you can drink it at the coffee shop before you board your flight. Problem solved!

Buy Pre-packaged Coffee

We’re not a huge fan of pre-packaged coffee, but if you want to enjoy your coffee at a later time buying coffee in a can or other container can be a good option. You can usually find premade coffee in news stores or other common airport vendors.

Our favorite pre-packaged coffees are the Starbucks frappuccinos and Nespresso cans. All Starbucks drinks are very sweet (which we like because we have a sweet tooth), Nespresso is more smooth and robust in flavor. 

If you want to have iced coffee on the plane, ask your flight attendant for a cup of ice to pour either over.

Can I Pack Coffee in my Checked Luggage?

African american businessman reading business newspaper while drinking coffee in private plane

The short answer is yes, you can pack coffee in your checked luggage. You can pack both liquid coffee as well as coffee grounds in your checked bags. Coffee grounds are considered a powder, so if you pack more than 12 ounces your bag may be subjected to additional screening. 

Author Note: But there’s nothing illegal about packing more than 12 ounces of coffee grounds in your bag. The only issue you may run into is if you’re bringing large amounts of coffee in from a different country.

If you’re bringing a bunch of coffee in from a different country (both beans and grounds) you might need to declare it to customs. Customs may care about the origin of the beans since they are an agricultural product. Customs has specific rules about agriculture products, so be sure to do your research ahead of time.

Should You Just Get Coffee On The Plane?

With all the effort that goes into getting coffee at the airport (not to mention how expensive coffee is at the airport), why not just drink the free coffee you get on the plane? The free coffee you get on the plane may do the trick for some, but it’s our belief that it is pretty bad.

The coffee you’ll get on most airlines tastes quite burnt and is not very strong caffeine-wise. We only drink it in dire circumstances or on really long flights when there aren’t any other options. Sometimes a cup of poor coffee is better than no coffee at all!

Parting Thoughts

Taking coffee on a plane after security is a must for early flights. There’s something special about enjoying a hot cup of coffee while taking off to go on vacation or somewhere new, even if it is more expensive than normal. We hope this article cleared up any questions you might have had about taking coffee on a plane after security, as well as drinking coffee effectively at the airport.

Do you have additional tips on enjoying your coffee at the airport? Feel free to let us know about them by shooting us a comment below. 

Stay caffeinated friends!

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