How Much Liquid Can You Bring On A Plane?

Last Updated on December 22, 2020

If any of the bad guys got large quantities of flammable liquids onto planes there could be some pretty serious consequences.

This was an attempted plot back in 2006 on flights leaving London with American Airlines, United Airlines, and Air Canada.

Thankfully the scheme was foiled by British police before it could be carried out.

Ever since then liquids have been closely restricted and monitored by airport security teams around the world.

The TSA has a duty to maintain the safety of passengers in the US, they are there to keep passengers safe not to be annoying.

And one way they do this is by limiting how much liquid that travelers can bring with them in carry-on luggage when they fly.

This post has a closer look at how much fluid can you bring on a plane.

The TSA Rules About Bringing Liquids In Carry-On Luggage

Before you can board a flight the Transportation Security Administration will conduct a screening process at the security checkpoint.

You are permitted to bring one quart-sized bag of liquids in your carry on through the checkpoint. Inside the bag, each bottle or container can be no larger than 3.4 ounces (100 ml).

Make sure you remove your liquids from your luggage and place them in a tray for additional screening.

A quart is 32 ounces but because of the shape of the bottles, you’ll probably only be able to bring 7 or 8 travel size bottles in your quart bag.

This means one passenger can bring around 25 ounces of liquid with them on a plane in total.

Each passenger is only allowed one plastic toiletries bag. Often this will be just a basic zip lock baggie. This is another limit on the quantity of liquid you can take when packing. You can’t have one in your purse and another in your suitcase.

Aerosols, Gels, Creams, And Pastes Considered To Be Liquids

There are some products that the TSA considers to be liquids that are easily forgotten about.

If you can squeeze it, smear it, pump it, spread it, spray it, or spill it then it’s considered a liquid. 

That means that the following items should also go in your toiletries bag:

  • Face Masks
  • Mascara
  • Liquid Eye Liner
  • Toothpaste
  • Sprays
  • Mousses
  • Peanut Butter
  • Sauce

These non-liquids impact how much liquid you can take with you when you fly.

Space can become pretty tight in your quart bag. Consider swapping liquid products for solid alternatives if you can.

One top tip is that wet wipes are not considered to be liquids. So if you can find a product in a wet wipe form then it can just be thrown in your carry on.

Solid deodorant sticks trump deodorant sprays. Solid bars of soap are better than shower gel.

And don’t take 3.4 oz bottles if you only need 1 oz of product to cover the length of your trip.

Buy yourself some refillable travel bottles and take only the amount that you need. You’ll save yourself money compared to buying travel-size versions of products.

You’ll also be able to free up space in your quart bag if you are struggling to make everything fit by using a 1 oz container rather than a 3.4 oz.

Exceptions To The TSA Liquids Rule

As mentioned above the TSA isn’t out to spoil your fun, they’re just trying to keep your flight safe.

Sometimes there are liquids in containers larger than 3.4 oz that you need to bring.

The rules are flexible enough to include exceptions for necessary liquids such as:

  • Breast milk
  • Baby formula
  • Baby food
  • Juice for kids
  • Medically necessary liquids
  • Prescription shampoo
  • Medical sprays
  • Liquid hand sanitizer (up to 12 oz)

If you have liquids that you want to bring that fall in these categories you can bring them. Just remove them from your suitcase during screening and tell a TSA officer. These larger liquids will also receive additional screening.

The TSA will want to check that the liquids really are what they appear to be. They may ask you to open a bottle for further inspection.

Liquids That Are Prohibited Entirely

Some liquids are considered too dangerous and no quantity is permitted.

  • Liquor over 70% Alcohol By Volume (ABV)
  • Aerosols that are not toiletries (for example bug killer)
  • Most flammable liquids
  • Most toxic liquids
  • Bleach
  • Fertilizer 
  • Insecticide 

The Bottom Line

If you don’t play by the packing rules your liquids will end up confiscated or thrown in the trash during the screening process.

You can take 1 quart-sized bag filled with as many liquids under 3.4 oz as you can fit in it!

That will probably be something like 25 ounces when you account for the fact that the bottles themselves will take up some space.

If there are liquids that you really need to bring and you can’t understand how anyone could survive with only a 3.4 ounce container then check the rules. There is probably an exception if it really is a necessary liquid.

Failing that you can take liquids larger than 3.4 ounces in checked baggage. However, since airlines often charge for checked bags this can be expensive.

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