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Visiting Sonoma? This airline will check your wine for free — but is it worth it?

Getting your wine home from Sonoma just got easier

Wine shipment
Steve Adamson / Shutterstock

Sonoma County, a top destination for wine lovers, offers a plethora of vineyards and tasting experiences. However, transporting these cherished bottles back home has always been a challenge. Avelo Airlines’ new program is set to change that, offering a worry-free solution that lets you focus on savoring the finest wines without worrying about the cost of shipping.

As of this Saturday, May 25, coinciding with National Wine Day, Avelo Airlines is introducing an exciting new ‘Wine Travels Free’ program on flights departing from the Bay Area’s Sonoma County Airport (STS). This innovative initiative allows travelers to check a case of wine at no extra charge, making it easier than ever to bring home a few bottles from the world-famous wine region.

‘Wine Travels Free:’ the details

Avelo Airlines
Robin Guess / Shutterstock

With the new ‘Wine Travels Free’ program, Avelo Airlines hopes to make trips to California’s Wine Country smooth and stress-free. 

“We know that visiting the vineyards and sampling Northern California’s world-famous wines is one of the most appealing reasons for visiting the Sonoma County region,” Avelo Airlines Founder and CEO Andrew Levy said in a statement. “At Avelo, we love helping our customers discover new experiences and create lasting memories by offering affordable, convenient and reliable air travel. It is our hope Avelo’s new Wine Travels Free program will make our Customers’ trips to California Wine Country that much more enjoyable and memorable.”

Here are the details of how this new program works:

  • Eligibility: Passengers 21 and older can check one case of wine per person at no extra cost.
  • Definition of a case: A single box or case containing up to 12 bottles, weighing 50 lbs or less.
  • Packaging requirements: Wine must be securely packed in a protective case or cardboard box with materials like Styrofoam, bubble wrap, or cardboard liners. Avelo does not supply packing materials at the airport.
  • Check-in process: Present your properly packed case to an Avelo Crewmember at the airport ticket counter before departure.

How do other airlines stack up? 

Alaska Airlines plane flying in sky
Angel DiBilio / Shutterstock

When it comes to transporting wine from Sonoma County Airport, different airlines have varying policies. Alaska Airlines offers a unique ‘Wine Flies Free’ program, exclusive to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members. This program allows members to check one case of wine, up to 12 bottles, at no additional charge. 

The airport’s other airline, American Airlines, does not have a dedicated program for wine. Instead, their policy permits passengers to transport up to 5 liters of beverages with 24-70% alcohol by volume in checked bags, though most wines typically fall below this alcohol content. The beverages must be unopened and in retail packaging. With American Airlines, you can pack your wine in your checked baggage, keeping in mind the weight limits, or opt to ship it back home separately. 

Is it worth it?

Rose wine bottles
Susanne Nilsson / Flickr

When deciding whether to check your wine on your flight home from Sonoma County, it ultimately comes down to convenience, cost, and personal preference. Checking your wine can definitely be worth it, particularly with airlines like Avelo and Alaska offering specialized programs. The key is to understand the policies of your chosen airline and its competitors. If you’re an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan member, you can also check wine for free (and from there, it’s all about which airline has the best flight for your budget and schedule). If that’s not the case, though, Avelo’s program offers plenty to like.

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