How Many Liquids Can I Carry On a Plane?

Shampoo bottles and travel kit
Travel-sized bottles for liquids. Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

If you're taking an airplane flight, you need to know how much and how many liquids you can bring on an airplane. While good security is essential, it certainly makes it harder to take liquids on planes. Today’s travelers have to pay attention to exactly what they’re carrying on a plane, especially when it comes to liquids, drinks, and anything resembling a liquid. The TSA and airport screeners are strict about the amount and type of liquids that travelers can take with them on plane. That’s where the 3-1-1 rule for carry-on liquids comes in.

Overview of Rules

The latest information on liquids and carry-on bags can always be found at the TSA’s 3-1-1 webpage.

In general, travelers are allowed to bring on most liquids, gels, and aerosols (from shampoo to hand sanitizer gels) as long as they’re in 3.4​-ounce (or less) containers and all the containers fit inside a 1-quart clear plastic zip-top bag.

You can also put liquids in your checked luggage (as long as they’re not prohibited items). But of course, if you do this, please make sure the liquids are sealed really well! The last thing you need on a business trip is to have your shampoos or other liquids leak all over your business suit or wardrobe.

Special Liquids/Larger Quantities

Travelers can also declare larger containers of selected liquids, such as baby formula or medications at the checkpoint. Airport screeners will generally allow them in moderate quantities. Declared liquids don’t have to be in zip-top bags.

Medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint. Also, it's worth noting that TSA screeners do allow you to bring ice through the security checkpoint as long as it's ice (i.e., it's frozen). So if you bring ice, make sure to dump out any water before you hit the security checkpoint.

Examples of liquids that can be in excess of the 3.4 once rule include:

  • Baby formula, breast milk, and juice (for babies)
  • Both prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Liquids or liquid nutrition for people with disabilities or medical conditions
  • Specialized medial liquids
  • Frozen items, if they’re frozen solid
  • Medical or cosmetic items with liquid or saline.

If you’re attempting to bring one of the above items with you, the TSA requires you to separate them, declare them to a security officer, and present them for additional screening.

For a complete information on the 3-1-1 rule, visit the TSA website.

For a complete list of prohibited items, visit the TSA webpage on prohibited items.