Last Updated on October 31, 2021
It’s more and more common these days for low-cost airlines to charge for drinks. And in recent times normal drinks service has been disrupted making it harder to get drinks on planes.
Even when you can get a drink on a plane the sizes served are often very small.
But it’s important to stay hydrated, especially when you are flying. Or maybe you like to have something to settle your nerves when flying.
This post is about bringing your own drinks on a plane and how to get drinks past the TSA liquids rules.
Let’s get started.
TSA Drinks & Beverages Rules & Regulations
The Transportation Security Administration have strict rules about bringing liquids on to planes.
Because there is a threat from liquid explosives only liquids under 3.4 ounces are allowed through the checkpoint. They must be packed in your one quart-size plastic bag.
Here’s the key….
Bringing a liquid through the airport security checkpoint and bringing a liquid onto a plane are two different things.
The good news is you can bring any drinks that you purchase after the security checkpoint onto the plane.
Bringing Drinks Through Airport Security In Carry-on Luggage
You are allowed to bring drinks in carry-on luggage if they are under 3.4 oz or 100 ml. That’s a small container for a drink.
You can only bring as many 3.4 oz drinks as you can fit in your quart-size bag. Space is limited but if you swap liquid toiletries for solid alternatives you might just manage to create space for a few little drinks.
Nips are the perfect size to pack in your toiletries bag but unfortunately, you can only drink your own alcohol if the flight attendants serve it to you. Most airlines choose not to do this though JetBlue are a notable exception.
There is a way to bring larger drinks through the security checkpoint. It’s a bit of a TSA travel hack.
An interesting thing happens to water when you freeze it. It changes from being a liquid to a solid!
That means that you can bring frozen drinks like water through airport security in sizes greater than 3.4 ounces.
The difficulty will be in managing to make it to the airport without your frozen water from melting!
If your drink has started to melt then it might not be allowed through security. The final decision rests with the TSA officer that you deal with.
Exceptions To The Liquids Rule
There are two exceptions that sometimes allow you to bring larger drinks through security screening.
Firstly, if you are traveling with an infant or a toddler you can bring drinks for them in sizes greater than 3.4 ounces.
So if you want to bring water, milk, juice, breast milk, baby formula, or any drink for your child you can do that. Just talk to the TSA officer and explain why you are bringing the larger drinks. Remove your large drinks from your carry-on and place them in a separate tray. The TSA should apply additional screening and allow your bottles through.
There isn’t a fixed age limit to this. The TSA say “a toddler is defined as a child who receives assistance in walking by an adult throughout the screening process. This age may differ depending on child development.”
The second exception to bringing larger drinks through airport security is when they are medically necessary. If you need to bring a drink because of a medical condition you should be able to bring it on your flight.
Again speak to the TSA officers at the checkpoint and explain your situation. You should not need a doctor’s prescription to bring your medically necessary drink.
Bringing Drinks In Checked Luggage
You can pack drinks in hold luggage. The only drink that you can’t pack in your checked suitcase is very strong alcohol over 140 proof.
If you are traveling internationally you need to be aware of any customs import rules for your destination country.
Just be wary they any bottle that is shaped like a weapon might not make it through the screening process. There was an issue recently with Star Wars sodas bottles that were shaped like grenades.
Still Unsure? Ask The TSA If Your Item Is Allowed
You can use the @AskTSA service on Twitter to ask the TSA any question about bringing drinks on a plane.
Devereux asked the TSA if he could bring unopened drinks on a plane:
The TSA replied with details of their liquids rule, but their answer wasn’t exactly correct.
You can bring unopened drinks on a plane if they are purchased after you clear airport security. You can’t bring unopened drinks larger than 3.4 oz through the security checkpoint in your hand luggage.
Kierstan asked how much water she could bring for her baby.
The TSA said that there no limit in bringing drinks for infants in hand luggage. You just need to place the drinks in a separate tray at the x-ray machine.
If you simply want to get some hydration you could pack fruit instead of drinks since fruit is usually at least 80% water anyway.
Melissa asked the TSA if she could pack an orange in her carry-on luggage.
While you might not have space to pack fruit juice you can pack fruit on a plane. You just need to bring an orange squeezer and you’ll be able to make your on freshly squeezed OJ on the flight.
Only joking that would probably make too much mess!
Trey ran into some problems with the TSA because of the age of his toddler.
Cosmo has to fly with protein drinks because if a medical need. They are 11 ounces which is over the liquids limit, but because they are a medical necessity he is permitted to bring them on a plane.
The Bottom Line
You can bring drinks on a plane but while going through security liquids must be under 3.4 oz.
After you have cleared security you can fill your water bottle, buy a soda, fill your coffee thermos, or do whatever you like.
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