Can You Bring Soda Cans On Checked Luggage? Find Out Here!

Can You Bring Soda Cans On Checked Luggage?

Soft drinks and cans of soda (also called cans of pop in some parts of the US) are very popular non-alcoholic beverages. If you're on a long haul flight and looking to save money from paying for your drinks from a flight attendant, you may want to take a soda on board.

Can I bring soda cans on checked luggage? Yes! Checked luggage does not have the same air travel restrictions on liquids as carry on luggage, but either way cans of soda are safe to bring on a flight. Plastic bottles are easier for carry on luggage as you can more easily manage the 100ml container guidelines. 

Much like beer cans, soda cans are probably better off being placed in the hold with checked luggage. This is because cans can't be easily switched over into hand luggage appropriate containers of 100ml, in a quart sized bag.

Carry on bags are also for more essential items and self care products. Not to mention the common stories you hear about atmospheric pressure, and the effect it has on canned goods. Often, leading them to explode and spill every where.

The 3-1-1 Rule of the TSA

The Transportation Security Administration or TSA security staff set most of the guidelines for American airlines. Abroad and at international airports, these rules can vary but generally for liquids this 3-1-1 is a good rule of thumb to follow.

Security staff will help you comply with the rule if you are in breach of it, but if you can't comply then you may have to leave some items behind. Airport security staff enforce these rules for the safety of every passenger, so follow these rules to make the jobs of security staff a bit easier:

  • 3) You can bring a 3 oz or 100ml per item of liquid. You can bring multiple bottles and containers of a liquid as a carry on item if needed.
  • 1) You will get 1 quart sized bag and should place those 3 oz containers in the plastic bag. You can bring as many 3 oz containers you can fit in your quart sized plastic bag, but they must fit comfortably. This means not likely to open untouched when in a guest's carry on luggage.
  • 1) Each passenger gets 1 quart bag each. If your carbonated beverage takes up too much room, you will not be allowed a second bag to make space and fit the liquids comfortably.

The TSA started regulating the amount of liquid you can take with you as a precaution against terrorism. There was an incident where terrorists concealed chemicals in seemingly harmless liquid items. If you really need carbonated drinks, beverage carts are available on most commercial flights.

How Does Cabin Pressure Work?

Non-alcoholic beverages in a guest's carry on luggage or in the hold of a plane can explode, however the chance of it happening is generally slim. Still, not everyone wants their luggage or body covered in the sticky high fructose syrup of fizzy drinks.

Whether in the carry on or checked luggage, your favorite beverage may explode due to extra pressure. The ambient pressure difference in most cases is stable, as the pressure in the cabin or hold will generally be greater than the pressure inside of the can.

However, if the pressure inside the can were to become greater, then it would explode from complete depressurization. The ambient pressure difference would be inverted, and the air pressure would send the drink every where.

This happens for any carbonated, non-alcoholic beverages including sparkling water, energy drinks, and canned beers. While cans of soda should be perfectly safe, any non-alcoholic beverages may explode in the hold or passenger cabin.

This is a result of the can being shaken during take off and during the flight, producing more carbon dioxide and increasing the pressure inside the can. Ever shaken some cola bottles and then opened it to an eruption of foamy liquid? This is the same reaction.

Airliner beverage policy can dictate what you take on board, but if packaging an alcoholic drink or non-alcoholic beverages which are carbonated, consider wrapping them in packing tape. Packing them tight will prevent significant movement, saving you a mess to clean up or damages to pay for.

Bottles of alcohol and glass bottles of soda can also explode, but they are much less likely to experience a pressure difference. Much like bottled water with a screw top or a bottle of wine with a cork, the metal cap on bottles of beer allow some pressure stablization.

Why do Soda Cans Explode?

Bags with bottles or cans can get messy if the soda explodes from an excessive pressure difference. Pressure is what makes your ears pop when you take off, and it is what guides most flight provider's beverage policy.

Of course, you can get drinks on board. However, this is done in mind that cans are unlikely to explode if packed correctly, so that passengers can enjoy drinks on board their flight. Aircraft cargo hold malfunctions are also a rarity, but can cause pressure differences to drop.

Drinks on board a plane are usually stocked on embarkation day, and plastic bottles are prefered for some goods. Distilled water, for example. On embarkation day, the plane is also routinely checked for the safety of everyone flying. Aircraft cargo holds and the actual airliner cargo limits are the result of decades of commercial flight, so you can fly safely.

Common sense precautions can be taken to stop cabin pressure messing up your clothes and other luggage. Baggage handlers however can be quite rough, so be cautious packing alcohol content into checked and carry on luggage.

Placing your cans as far away from other hard items and the sides will ensure that they won't get punctured, dented, or squished even when your luggage is handled roughly. This is also the reason why you should not place them beside fragile items such as glass bottles of wine, extension cords, or even a jar of vegemite.

Although it happens, pressure and temperature variations in the cargo holds aren't usually enough to cause damage. That said, malfunctions can occur, so leakage may still happen in your soda cans. Yet, with proper packing, you can avoid sweet and sticky explosions all through your baggage.

Why do Soda Cans Explode?

Why Can't I Take Liquids on a Plane?

The TSA started regulating the amount of liquid you can take with you as a precaution against terrorism. Smuggling harmful chemicals in mundane toiletries, a terrorist plot was foiled and ever since we have had regulations dictating liquids on an airliner.

This change to checked or carry on bags, as well as beverage purchases, was something of a culture shock at first. Much like removing your shoes at the airport, checked and carry on bags facing liquid limits upset many people.

Today however, these changes have become ingrained to the airport experience. Checked and carry on bags are much the same, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages can be bought in airports prior to departure, and you can buy an individual drink on the plane itself.

The individual drink price might shock you, as purchases on transport often does, and beverage stations at the airport also tend to hike up prices as it is the last resort for passengers already checked in and ready to fly.

These liquid limitations apply to every single liquid, even liquids you might not even realise are liquids. Syrups, creams, oils, all count as liquids to the TSA. Even your distilled water has to follow TSA guidance when it comes to the 3-1-1 rule and carry on baggage.

How to Pack Soda

Alternative ways to packing soda other than cans can help avoid pressure problems. A carton of soda for example has much more room for pressure to stablize, although a carton of soda is very uncommon. A carton of soda isn't something you're likely to pick up off store shelves, and you'll have to pour them yourselves.

You can also try packing soda in a cooler bag, styrofoam box, or any waterproof container. This way, you won't risk damaging anything else in your suitcase. But those will take quite the space in your baggage and could be expensive.

Alternatively, packing tape and bubble wrap can go a long way. Wrapping a bit of bubble wrap around your cans of soda and securing it with rubber bands will prevent excessive jostling and movement in checked or carry on bags. Both checked and carry on luggage can benefit from secure packing.

Instead, you can just protect your soda cans with double-sealed bags. Any waterproof bag, plastic bags with zipper seals like Ziploc, or even plain grocery bags would work as long as you seal it tightly. When placing the cans in your baggage, place them in the middle and surround them with other items that can be used as padding, like clothes. 

Rubber bands are no match for original packing however. Depending on if you're using checked or carry on luggage, you may be able to keep the cans of pop in their original plastic wrapping or cardboard box.

This will keep the cans safe, but is definitely suited for checked baggage. Beverage purchases on board the flight also mitigate the need to pack soda in checked and carry on luggage. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are both available on most commercial flights.

If you're not interested in non-alcoholic drinks, some airlines even offer a complimentary beverage program. This beverage program will include non-alcoholic drinks, but long haul flights will also offer beer more often than not, free from the scare of the drink price.

Beverage purchases from beverage stations in the airport itself can also reduce the need to pack soda, especially if you're on a shorter flight. Non-alcoholic drinks are easy to come by, and saves the hassle of getting soda in and out of checked and carry on luggage.

Packing soda into checked luggage is also pointless, as you can't access the hold during your flight. Checked or carry on luggage both pose an issue when it comes to carbonated drinks, so really it doesn't matter which you choose.

How to Pack Soda

When deciding between checked or carry on luggage, the only question you need to answer is if you will want your drink during the flight. Checked or carry on luggage have different accessibility while in the air after all.

About this Guide

Written By Alex
Last Updated On July 10, 2022
Reading Time 
9 minutes
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