Last Updated on September 22, 2021
Planes and airports are always busy places where viruses can spread between people.
They’ve always been a place where you can potentially catch the flu or the common cold, and many people report feeling sick after taking a flight.
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation more and more people are concerned about catching something on their next flight.
Often cabin air recycling systems get the blame for spreading disease, but this is actually not why people get sick on planes.
The air on planes is filtered and the filters are able to remove even small viruses from the air.
If an infected passenger near you coughs or sneezes you may become infected. There is little you can do about that other than avoiding crowded planes.
The other reason we get sick on planes is from touching contaminated surfaces and then touching our faces or mouths.
So can you bring hand sanitizer on a plane in your hand luggage so you can protect yourself from viruses?
The situation has changed recently. The TSA announced on the 16th of Mar that passengers would be permitted to bring hand sanitizer in large containers up to 12 oz in their carry on bags.
There is a 12 oz limit per passenger and you can even bring 2 x 6 oz bottles or 3 x 4 oz bottles.
Read on because I have perhaps an even better tip about airplane travel hygiene that you don’t want to miss.
TSA Hand Sanitizer Rules
Hand sanitizer gel or foam is a liquid and hence falls under the Transportation Security Administration liquids rule. Here is what the TSA usually has to say about hand sanitizers:
TSA understands that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is at the forefront on the minds of travelers, as health officials are encouraging that individuals wash their hands frequently. With that in mind, TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags until further notice. Passengers can expect that these containers larger than the standard allowance of 3.4 ounces of liquids permitted through a checkpoint will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to their checkpoint screening experience. Please keep in mind that all other liquids, gels and aerosols brought to a checkpoint continue to be allowed at the limit of 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters carried in a one quart-size bag.Transportation Security Administration
Thankfully, as of the 16th of March 2020, the TSA has relaxed the rules around hand sanitizers allowing passengers to take larger 12 oz bottles in their hand luggage.
That means if you are buying Purrell, Dettol, or another hand sanitizer gel or foam then you don’t need to buy a mini travel-sized bottle.
You can take more than 1 bottle of hand sanitizer with you in your carry on luggage. But the total amount must not be more than 12 oz.
After the security checkpoint, you can keep your hand sanitizer wherever you want.
You can pack as much hand sanitizer in your checked luggage as you want. You don’t have any restrictions about taking it in your check-in bags. But then it’s not much use to you on your flight when it’s stored in the aircraft hold.
You need to take some method of cleaning your hands with you onboard the plane to remain safe.
And it’s not only your hands that need cleaning…
What’s Even Better Than Hand Sanitizer Gel When Traveling On Planes?
Okay here is my top tip as promised.
Take hand sanitizing antibacterial wipes such as Wet Ones, Clorex with you in your carry on luggage.
Despite being wet these don’t count as a liquid when going through the TSA security checkpoint. You can pack as many wet wipes in your carry on as you want.
It’s not easy to clean an airport table or a plane armrest with alcohol gel alone. You need something to wipe down with. Wet wipes are perfect for this situation. If I could only take one I’d take Clorex wet wipes over hand gel every time.
Since antibacterial wet wipes don’t count as liquids then it’s really advisable to pack some with you. Clean your immediate surroundings, this is where the danger lies.
Of course, if someone coughs or splutters right in your face there is not much that you can do about that. But you can clean the surfaces that you come into contact with.
Short of not flying at all and staying home this is the best thing you can do to protect yourself.
Here is the @AskTSA service on Twitter confirming that these antibacterial wipes are fine to take into the cabin in your hand luggage.
Yes, you can and should take a small bottle of hand sanitizer gel with you when you travel on planes. Airports and planes are confined spaces with lots of people, this is why disease spreads. It’s less about airborne viruses and more about contaminated surfaces.
You should pack not only hand gel but also some antibacterial sanitizing wet wipes. These are much better for cleaning the dangerous surfaces that you’ll come into contact with.
Use the gel for cleaning your hands and use the wipes for cleaning the armrests, seatbelt buckle, and drop-down tables and anything else you need to touch. These are the surfaces that can harbor germs and viruses.
Also, I should mention that the window seat is theoretically the safest seat on the plane because you are further away from other people.
Please don’t panic about flying. I don’t want to alarm anyone with this post.
But if you are flying it makes good sense to take precautions and hand gel and wet wipes are well worth packing in your carry on luggage.