A few years ago, my brother and I were aboard an Emirates flight from Australia to New Zealand. At the time, I was 16 and he was 14.

At one point in the flight we were both offered alcoholic drinks. Considering the drinking age where I am from is 18, and ID is required if you look under 25, this came as quite a surprise to the both of us.

Considering different countries have different laws and aircraft often have multinational crew and passengers, what laws govern international flights?

  • $\begingroup$ The question Danny linked answers the title question. However, one other important thing to bear in mind is that you may also still be subject to some of the laws in your country of citizenship, even when you're abroad. I'm now aware of any jurisdictions in which this would apply specifically to drinking, but some countries may indeed prosecute you when you come home if they find out about certain things you've done overseas. Laws against sex tourism are an example of this. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 3:42
  • $\begingroup$ @reirab You may want to put this comment, or an answer/edit in the original question if you think that it will help clarify something there. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 17:58

1 Answer 1


International airlines follow the law of their country of registration. Hence your flight limits you based on the drinking age in Abu Dhabi, which is 18.

Note that some airlines, such as Turkish, have a policy to not serve alcohol on certain flights. On my experience with a Hong Kong airline, the flight into Hong Kong only served juices where outbound we had Tsingtao :)

Something more to read on travel.SE : Is it legal to drink your own alcohol onboard a plane over international waters?

  • $\begingroup$ In addition: Air law on Britannica and Wikipedia (with a list of conventions). $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 19:15

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