I will be travelling from Dublin to New York (JFK) using Delta Airlines.

I'm 20 and have been served alcohol on a summer flight without identification but that was Ethiopian Airlines and I have read that the original country of the carrier determines the minimum age policy. Since Delta is based in the U.S. is it 21?

Some say though that flight attendants are not fussy provided you don't look like an actual toddler/kid so age doesn't matter. What have you found through experience?


Officially, 21 is the minimum age for Delta flights:

For example, American Airlines confirms they adhere to U.S. law, telling Traveler: “Since we’re based in the US, we go by the 21-year-old drinking age.” Delta, United, Alaska Airlines, Virgin America, Southwest, JetBlue, Spirit, and Allegiant are the same, drawing a line at 21 and up for serving passengers alcohol onboard.

As a practical matter, they are unlikely to be too concerned about your age, and it's fairly uncommon to be asked for ID. If you're asked if you're over 21, I'd tell the truth.

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    No need for ID - the airline already knows your age as a part of the APIS data. For at least some airlines, whether a passenger is over 21 or not IS shown on the manifest. – Doc Dec 23 '17 at 23:41
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    @Doc Sure, and they could go check if they wanted (part of the reason not to lie), but the crew don't usually check the manifest for each passenger when serving drinks. "Oh I left my ID at home" is not going to work so well on an airplane either. – Zach Lipton Dec 23 '17 at 23:49
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    Having flown on an international Delta flight at the weekend, I can confirm that the cabin crew were asking younger-looking passengers if they were 21 before serving them alcohol. – David Richerby Dec 24 '17 at 2:25
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    I think they do not even have an option to do anything different since the plane "sails" under the flag of the USA. Even if it didn't actually bear the US flag (which it almost certainly does), it would nevertheless have the right to do so (which is enough). Thus, US law applies as long as the wheels don't touch foreign ground. – Damon Dec 24 '17 at 12:53
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    @Damon There's no Federal US law that defines a minimum drinking age. In fact, states vary on when their drinking laws apply (e.g. in private, or provided by parents). Thus, the minimum age is by custom, not by law. – user71659 Dec 25 '17 at 3:51

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