Whether you’re flying short-haul or long-haul, you need to stay hydrated while you fly.
But can you bring a water bottle on a plane?
Does the type of bottle matter?
What about bringing an empty or unopened water bottle – does that make a difference?
These are just a few of the most common questions that passengers have and that we answer in this article.
In short, due to TSA regulations, you can bring a water bottle on a plane in your checked bags but not in your carry on bags.
You are allowed to bring an empty water bottle on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags, though.
Table of Contents
- 1 Bringing a Water Bottle in Your Checked Luggage
- 2 Bringing a Water Bottle in Your Carry On
- 3 The Same Rules Apply for International Flights
- 4 Airline Restrictions
- 5 Type of Bottle (Stainless Steel vs. Plastic vs. Glass)
- 6 Why You Can’t Bring a Bottle of Water on a Plane
- 7 You Can Buy a Bottle of Water Once Past Airport Security
- 8 Why You Should Bring an Empty Water Bottle With You
- 9 No Difference for Unopened vs. Opened Bottles
- 10 What Happens If You Try and Bring a Bottle of Water Past Airport Security
- 11 You Can Bring Ice on a Plane
- 12 A Loophole to Bring a Large Water Bottle on a Plane
- 13 Exceptions to the TSA’s 3-1-1 Rule
- 14 How Much Water Should You Drink on a Plane?
Bringing a Water Bottle in Your Checked Luggage
You can bring both empty and full water bottles on a plane in your checked bags.
While we’re not sure why anyone would want to bring a water bottle in their checked bags due to the added weight and cheap price of bottled water in all countries, it’s still good to know.
Bringing a Water Bottle in Your Carry On
Most people wondering if they can bring a water bottle on a plane are referring to bringing a bottle in their carry on bags.
The TSA has something called the 3-1-1 Rule, which limits passengers from bringing any liquids in containers that are greater than 3.4oz/100ml.
This includes water.
In other words, you are only allowed to bring a water bottle on a plane in your carry on bags if it is empty.
The Same Rules Apply for International Flights
It doesn’t matter if you are flying domestically within the USA or internationally, all aviation authorities are in alignment.
You are only allowed to bring liquids (as well as gels and aerosols) in your carry on bags if they are inside a container that is no larger than 3.4oz/100ml.
So, you can only pack an empty water bottle in your carry on bags as you go through airport security.
Whether you’re flying United, Southwest, American Airlines, or any other major or regional air carrier in the USA or worldwide, the rules are the same.
So, you will not be able to pack a water bottle in your carry on bags unless it is empty.
Type of Bottle (Stainless Steel vs. Plastic vs. Glass)
You might be wondering if the type of water bottle you bring on a plane matters.
The type of bottle – plastic, stainless steel, or glass, for example – does not matter.
It is only the liquid inside the bottle that matters.
This includes if you want to bring a hydroflask on a plane.
So, again, this means that regardless if you’re travelling with a stainless steel, plastic, or glass bottle, it will only be allowed in your carry on bags if it is empty.
Why You Can’t Bring a Bottle of Water on a Plane
You are not allowed to bring a bottle of water on a plane in your carry on bags due to security concerns.
Terrorists have previously tried to sneak liquid explosives on a plane on more than one occasion.
3.4oz/100ml of liquids in each container is the permitted amount because it is the maximum amount of liquid explosives that pose little to no risk to travelers.
You Can Buy a Bottle of Water Once Past Airport Security
Once you have passed airport security, you will be able to buy a bottle of water and take it on a plane.
However, a bottle of water purchased at the airport will usually cost around $5.
Why You Should Bring an Empty Water Bottle With You
We all know that it’s scandalous that once you pass airport security, if you want to buy a bottle of water it will cost you around $5.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to bring an empty water bottle with you as you pass through airport security.
This is because many airports have water filling stations that will allow you to fill up your empty bottle for free.
No Difference for Unopened vs. Opened Bottles
It makes no difference if the bottle of water is opened or unopened.
The TSA will not allow any passenger to bring any liquid in a container that is greater than 3.4oz/100ml, regardless if it is opened or unopened, including water.
What Happens If You Try and Bring a Bottle of Water Past Airport Security
If you try and bring a bottle of water in your carry on bags as you pass through airport security, it will either be confiscated, and you will not be able to get it back, or you will be asked to empty its contents and will be allowed to take the empty bottle with you.
You Can Bring Ice on a Plane
You can bring ice on a plane in both your checked and carry on bags.
The caveat is that the TSA state that “if frozen liquid items are partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they must meet 3-1-1 liquids requirements.”
So any frozen items must be “frozen solid when presented for screening.”
A Loophole to Bring a Large Water Bottle on a Plane
If you want to bring a large bottle of water on a plane that contains liquid, there is actually a loophole.
If you are traveling with a baby or young child, you can say that the bottle of water is for them.
Exceptions to the TSA’s 3-1-1 Rule
Though water not may be one of them, there are several exceptions to the 3-1-1 Rule.
The following items, if packed in your carry on bags, are allowed to exceed 3.4 oz/100ml:
- Breast milk and formula
- Baby food
- Liquid medication
- Hand sanitizer
- Jumbo disinfecting wipes
- STEB items (secure, tamper-evident bags purchased at the airport)
- Cough syrup
- Gel-filled bras
- Saline solution
- Ice packs (must be frozen solid)
How Much Water Should You Drink on a Plane?
The Aerospace Medical Association recommends that passengers drink about eight ounces of water every hour you’re flying.
As longer flights increase the likelihood of dehydration, it’s particularly important that you follow this guideline when flying long-haul.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).