Why Can’t You Bring Liquids On A Plane?

Last Updated on November 29, 2021

Let’s be clear, you can bring liquids on a plane, they are not banned entirely. It’s only the amount of liquids that you can bring that is limited.

The Transportation Security Administration liquid rules aren’t there to annoy you. The TSA works hard to keep aviation passengers safe and if they limit the amount of water or other liquid you can take on a plane you can bet that there is a good reason for it.

There is a good reason, but not everyone gets it….

The internet is full of snarky, sarcastic comments from people that don’t understand why you can’t bring liquids in large quantities.

Like Vince, who doesn’t understand that it’s not the toothpaste, shampoo, or conditioner that the TSA is worried about.

This next section is for you Vince…

Here’s Why You Cant Bring Liquid On A Plane In Large Quantities

In 2006 a terrorist plot was hatched to detonate liquid explosives, disguised as soda drinks, on board aircraft traveling from the United Kingdom to the United States and Canada.

Police investigators covertly opened the baggage of Abdulla Ahmed Ali, who was already under surveillance. Inside, they found Tang, a powdered soft drink, and a large number of batteries, which raised suspicions. 

An additional 220 police officers from other departments joined the police in the UK’s largest surveillance operation in the following weeks.

A second man, Assad Sarwar, was spotted buying items that did not seem to be related to his daily needs. He was once observed disposing of empty hydrogen peroxide bottles at a recycling center by surveillance officers.

A park in east London was the location of Sarwar and Ali’s meeting. A flat being used by Ali was discovered to have what appeared to be a bomb factory when MI5 entered it covertly. Ali and Tanvir Husain were then filmed making devices out of soda bottles on 3 August with a hidden camera and a microphone.

Ali later spent two hours researching flight timetables in an Internet café, where officers observed him.

The plotters planned to use peroxide based liquid explosives.

As part of the prosecution’s case against the conspirators, the prosecution stated that each bomber would board a plane armed with the necessary ingredients and equipment.

In mid-flight, the devices would be constructed and detonated. Lucozade soda drinks and Oasis soft drinks would be filled with hydrogen peroxide. In order to make the hydrogen peroxide appear like a normal soft drink, the Tang drink power would be mixed with it. 

A syringe would be used to inject the mixture into the bottles. When screened by airport security, the device would have resembled an unopened, normal drink bottle as its cap would not have been removed.

They almost got away with it! If it wasn’t for the UK’s alert surveillance team the results could have been devastating.

After this plot was foiled airport security teams around the world introduced limits to the amount of liquid any passenger could bring on the plane with them.

The TSA has no other choice since they they cannot identify which type of liquid is inside a bottle using their x-ray machine at security screening.

The only way to keep passengers safe is to limit the total amount of liquid by using the quart-size bag rule and to limit the amount of liquid that can be in any one container.

That’s why the 3-1-1 rule was introduced.

The TSA Can’t Screen Every Liquid

Janeta couldn’t understand why she couldn’t bring her sealed coffee through the airport security checkpoint.

The TSA replied that, “Liquid explosives still pose a threat. Allowing passengers to carry liquids, gels, and aerosols in smaller containers lessens the risk.”

Janeta still didn’t get it because she knew that her coffee wasn’t a liquid explosive.

But the thing is the TSA doesn’t know that the liquid inside the container is what it says on the label.

Can you imagine the time it would take to inspect and test every single liquid that is brought on to a plane to determine that is safe?

Every sealed container would need to be opened and tested.

It’s simply not possible to verify that the liquids inside containers are safe.

The only solution is to limit the amount of liquid that passengers are able to bring.

So while plotters could still make a device with liquid explosives they could only make a small one.

You Can Take Larger Quantities Of Liquid On The Plane If They Have Been Checked

Remember it’s only when passing through airport security that liquids are restricted.

You can buy a large coffee or a large bottle of water over the 3.4 oz limit after the airport security checkpoint and carry that on to the plane.

That’s because all the liquids that are brought into the airport stores are checked.

You are not prevented from bringing large containers of liquid on to the plane. You are prevented from bringing unchecked large bottles of liquid on to the plane.

The TSA does allow you to bring larger quantities of liquid for medical reasons or juice for infants. They do this by performing additional screening to make sure the liquids are safe.

But it’s unseasonable to expect the TSA to check that every tube of toothpaste really does contain toothpaste and not something more dangerous.

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