UA rule against checking wine at LAX

 

Old Oct 29, 06, 9:11 pm
  #1  
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UA rule against checking wine at LAX

To start -- I usually bring 2 bottles of wine/week home to YOW from LAX, as wine selection in Ontario is poor, not to mention expensive. Now that the carry-on liquid restrictions are in place, I place these bottles in my checked luggage.

This past Thursday morning, I arrived at LAX to head to a wedding in Chicago. I had purchase for the bride and groom a rather expensive cabernet, so this time (unlike every other week when I haul wine home) I requested a "fragile" sticker on my bag (in retrospect, I don't know why -- likely, the bag would not be handled any more carefully). Anyway, the CSR said "Fragile -- why?" and I said "I'm so excited -- I'm headed to a wedding, and I have this great cab to bring to the bride and groom". She just started shaking her head and informed me that if UA "knows" that you are checking wine, they must ask you to remove the wine from your suitcase (and in the day and age of carry-on liquids restrictions, this equates to either throwing the wine away, or not taking the flight). She then continued that she thought this was a LAX-only rule, and it was instituted because someone checked wine without wrapping it properly, the bottle broke, leaked out of the suitcase staining other peoples' suitcases, and UA was held liable for the damage. The CSR next to her then remarked "I had no idea we had that rule!". Grrr...

Anyhow, I ended up tossing a $90 cabernet in the garbage (I am still coping with the loss ) and then proceeded to the RCC, where I searched UA's website with a fine-toothed comb, and found nothing regarding a rule against checking wine.

I understand their justification for the rule; however, it would be nice to be made aware of the "LAX-only" rule beforehand, so as not to attempt to check (or so as not to mention the checking of) a nice bottle.

I arrived safely (albeit 6 hours late due to weather delays) and that's all that matters, so I'm not writing this thread to complain (though a bit annoyed at the events). I am, however, writing this thread to advise others -- if you plan to check wine, either a) forget it or b) don't mention it.
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Old Oct 29, 06, 9:17 pm
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An LAX-only rule?! That sounds like BS to me. I'm so sorry for your loss. I am not aware of any restrictions against shipping wine (or liquid that used to be permissible in hand luggage, but is no longer).

I probably would have (respectfully) asked for a Service Director for confirmation of these kinds of rules. Otherwise, next time, I would just lie and say you have some other (non-liquid) fragile items.
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Old Oct 29, 06, 9:33 pm
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Sounds like another UA lie to me. Sorry you were duped.
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Old Oct 29, 06, 9:35 pm
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Originally Posted by DetroitFlyer
next time, I would just lie and say you have some other (non-liquid) fragile items.
Or don't bother with a "fragile" sticker. That just makes it a target anyway.
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Old Oct 29, 06, 10:37 pm
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This topic is similar to one I posted back in early September which detailed, when checking in at YUM for a return to COS, how Skywest would not let me place a bottle of Kahlua in my checked bag.
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Old Oct 29, 06, 10:44 pm
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Have carried anywhere from 1 to 10 bottles of wine back and forth on various trips, including out of LAX. Just pack it properly (i.e. tight as a snare drum) and it's no problem. Don't say anything
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Old Oct 29, 06, 10:45 pm
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Originally Posted by Marno
Anyhow, I ended up tossing a $90 cabernet in the garbage (I am still coping with the loss )
Oh man, as a resident of the Bay Area, that makes my heart ache. I'm really sorry you had to endure that, it certainly does sound like BS. It's never happened to me but I've also never said I had wine - I just say I have "breakables."

An in the spirit of keeping good wine alive, just in case this happens to anyone in the future, please, instead of trashing the wine, give it to someone who's not flying (or just arrived) - it'll go to a much better place. (There were numerous news stories in the area about Napa/Sonoma visitors drinking their wine in line or donating it to other people during the day(s) following the liquids ban.)
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Old Oct 29, 06, 11:40 pm
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I just flew through LAX this past weekend with 2 bottles in my checked baggage and had no problem. However, I also did not volunteer the fact that there are wine in the bag, but they were packed snug.

Also, I heard the similar tale regarding breakage and leakage from a separate with SWA, and the CSR would not let me check the shipper box. I asked for a supervisor, and they wrapped the entire box in plastic bag. The box arrived without a drop leaking.
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Old Oct 29, 06, 11:53 pm
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UA at EZE has a similar rule which they do enforce rather rigidly, although they permit wine to be in checked luggage if it's in a wooden crate.

I'm really sorry you had to toss the $90 bottle of wine. That's terrible.
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Old Oct 30, 06, 12:06 am
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sorry for piggy-backing this OT question here, but it's related and i think it's one all of you will know...

i'm supposed to bring a bottle of CA wine to a party i'm attending in thailand on Nov 25.

i leave CA on Nov 8, fly to BKK, then to HK, then to BKK on the 25th for the party.

how well will a wine handle travel like that? both in terms of not breaking if i check it in my bag and in terms of tasting good on the 25th when we open it?

another option is to buy a CA wine in thailand on the 25th, but they have a 3X wine tax in thailand and it makes for quite expensive bad wines.
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Old Oct 30, 06, 12:25 am
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Originally Posted by ajc1970
how well will a wine handle travel like that? both in terms of not breaking if i check it in my bag and in terms of tasting good on the 25th when we open it?
Regarding breakage, as long as the wine is securely packed, you should be fine. Generally, I wrap bottles in plastic bags and nestle them strategically amongst my clothing, which provide an excellent cushion. I routinely bring multiple bottles of wine back east as holiday gifts and have yet to break a bottle. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can pack the bottle in various types of shipping boxes before putting it in your suitcase.

Regarding taste, the answer will, of course, depend on who you ask and how much of a wine snob, I mean, connoisseur , they are. In general, as long as the bottle is kept cool and dark, you should be fine. Wines react badly to heat, especially if the change is sudden, and they don't particularly like being cooled and re-heated either, but your packing materials will provide good insulation for the trip. Wines also react badly to light but I assume you're not packing active light bulbs in your suitcase. Some people would say that the vibrations from the plane and baggage handling will damage the wine, and in principle that could be true, but chances are the CA wine sold in Thailand was also shipped by air so it would not have fared much better. I'm also of the opinion that it won't matter if you only do it once (i.e. don't carry it on planes for a year and expect it to be good, but it should be fine for the one trip). The air pressure won't have an effect on taste; cork is porous but air transfer across the cork is very slow, so on short timescales you can consider the bottle to be hermetically sealed.

Of course, this is only my opinion, I'm sure there are plenty of Napa/Sonoma residents that would string me up by my toenails for saying this.
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Old Oct 30, 06, 12:27 am
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Another great UA lie. Probably the best way to transport wine...ship it.
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Old Oct 30, 06, 12:28 am
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I can see why UA would have this rule. I brought back lots of German beer bottles from AMS to LPL on EasyJet. I was a pretty inexperienced young passenger and wasn't aware of the ramifications. Half of the bottles broke and when the conveyor belt started moving, I could really smell the stench of beer and saw the faces of upset passengers upon seeing their bags soaked in beer. Then comes my bag with its bottom all wet. Miraculously, nobody saw who the culprit was.
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Old Oct 30, 06, 12:28 am
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Originally Posted by UNITED959
Another great UA lie. Probably the best way to transport wine...ship it.
Well, not quite... the best way is to drink it, then ship yourself.
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Old Oct 30, 06, 2:50 am
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Thumbs up

Last Friday (10/27), I was flying from BKK to TUS via NRT and LAX. I carried with me (on board) UA 890 a bottle of Moutai bought at BKK duty free. At LAX, I forgot to put the bottle into one of the suitcases when I was re-checking them. Of course, I didn't get through the security check, which surprised me at first, thinking that I carried this all the way over the Pacific on a US-flag carrier.

So I went to the premier check-in line and expained the situation to an agent (the liquor was in a very obvious package with a big "MOUTAI" on it). The very nice agent took some time to find a cardboard box and check it in with no trouble at all. No cushion. No questions asked.

Last edited by GRB051111; Oct 30, 06 at 2:56 am
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