If you're taking a flight for your vacation, you need to know the quantities and types of liquids that the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) allows passengers to bring onto an airplane in their carry on luggage.
While good security is essential, TSA's regulations on liquid quantities certainly make it harder to take liquids on planes. Today’s travelers have to pay attention to exactly what they’re carrying, especially when it comes to shampoos, shaving cream, drinks, and anything resembling a fluid.
The TSA and airport screeners are strict about the amount and type of liquids that travelers can take with them on the plane. However, they've fortunately developed a handy guide to help passengers prepare for their trip. Known as the 3-1-1 rule for carry-on liquids, this rule states that most liquids, gels, and aerosols can be transported as long as each item is in a 3.4-ounce or smaller container and all items fit in a single one-quart plastic zip-top bag.
The 3-1-1 Rule for Carry-On Liquids
The latest information on liquids and carry-on bags can always be found at the TSA’s 3-1-1 webpage, but in general, travelers are allowed to bring on most liquids—from shampoo to hand sanitizer gels—as long as they meet the requirements of the 3-1-1 rule. Typically this means you can carry up to six 3.4-ounce bottles of shampoos, contact solution, and other liquid necessities as long as they are all contained within a Ziploc bag.
You can also put liquids in your checked luggage (as long as they’re not prohibited items). However, if you do this, you should make sure the liquids are sealed really well so that they don't come up while being transported beneath the aircraft. 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 and 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, and 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, but you'll need to 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-ounce 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 medical liquids like contact solution
- 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, and for a complete list of prohibited items, visit the official TSA prohibited items list.