How I Do: Airport Drinking For Less

Your bags are packed and you’re ready to fly. Now how are you going to pass the time waiting for your flight or in mid-air? Other than an iPad full of great mags, movies and a dope playlist, I make it a point to treat myself to a cocktail when I know I’m in for a long haul. Because everything great journey begins with whiskey. Trust me.
But the reality is that scoring a cocktail in the airport or in-flight can set you back anywhere from $7 to $15. Each. I had to research this myself because truthfully, I can’t remember the last time I actually paid for a drink in the air or airport. For this installment of How I Do, I’m going to break down one of my naughtiest not-so-secrets: How to have your own travel happy hour and pay little to nothing for it.

First, A Disclaimer
Being drunk, or hungover on a plane is the absolute worst, and can get you into loads of trouble. This piece is in no way a rally cry to get wasted before you even leave the airport or hop on the flight. Also, some of the things you are about to read are pretty much on the line/wrong side of “is this FAA regulation or nah?” So if anything, use your best judgment and keep it cute.

If You Can, Join A Club
I’ve mentioned this before but after 6 years in, I can honestly say that joining American Airline’s Admiral’s Club was one of the best decisions I made once I incorporated frequent travel into my life. Aside from the perks (dedicated agents, a comfortable place to wait, great networking, etc) each Admiral’s Club has a great selection of gratis wine, beer and spirits to indulge in before you board. In other international cities like São Paulo and London, you will find that the entire bar is self-serve. The same goes for Delta and Virgin’s respective clubs from what I hear. And don’t forget, most have one-day only passes available for purchase. So while technically you are paying for the privilege of being in the club, a welcome cocktail is a definite bonus.

If You Can, Upgrade Yourself To Goodness
In general, I fly business and first more than economy. And I mostly don’t pay full price for it, or pay at all. I promise to break that down next week. At times, when a first/biz class flight is only $200 more than economy or costs a low number of upgrade points, I recommend that you go for it and purchase the ticket/spend the upgrades or miles. Other than better service, for longer flights this means a prepared meal and that lovely bar cart that is available to you until you land. Depending on the class you are upgrading to, access to the airline’s private lounge is included for some luxe pre-gaming. Some airlines even have a pairing wine/cocktail menu to go with their meal selections. So while you are paying for the whole experience, access to made-to-order cocktails is a welcome plus. Enjoy everything you can get, you deserve it.

“G Up” & BYOB!
This is probably what you’ve been wanting to read. Guess what’s under 3oz, can be packed in a clear ziploc bag and tucked in your carry-on bag per the TSA? Mini liquor bottles!!! The catch? They aren’t officially allowed to be consumed on the plane but there is no standing regulation about consuming them in the airport while waiting. So this leaves you with a few options: create your own happy hour while you wait to board by grabbing a soda/mixer in the airport and literally mix it together (think: what you did in college with Sprite bottles) and if you dare, carry the minis on the plane with you and start mixing your own cocktails in your seat! Why pay upwards to $10 for a drink when the minis of your choice are at your local liquor store for under three dollars each?

Just don’t be that girl. No one likes that girl. And remember to check yourself if you plan on renting a car or driving after you land.

Cheers folks…and safe flying!


Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington