Whether this will be your first time flying or you’ve taken a flight before, you’re probably aware that there are restrictions in how many ounces of liquids you can take on a plane.
According to the TSA, you can take liquids, gels and aerosols in travel-size containers that do not exceed 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters.
This is known as the 3-1-1 liquids rule, though there are exceptions that you should know about.
You should also be aware of some liquids that are forbidden, surprising items that count as liquids, as well as a loophole that allows you to bring more than 3.4 ounces of liquid per container.
TSA Liquid Limit (3-1-1 Rule)
The TSA 3-1-1 Rule states that “each passenger may carry liquids, gels and aerosols in travel-size containers that are 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters.”
Additionally, these containers must fit in a 1-quart sized, resealable bag as they go through checkpoint security.
You must take this bag out of your purse, carry-on bag, or any other bag it is contained in and place it in the airport security bin.
Domestic vs. International Travel Liquid Restrictions
Whether you are flying domestically within the USA or internationally, the same rules apply.
While it may not be referred to as the 3-1-1 rule worldwide, passengers are limited to liquids, gels and aerosols stored in containers that are no larger than 3.4 oz/100ml.
These items should also be packed in a 1-quart sized, resealable bag.
Airline Liquid Restrictions
All airlines, whether Delta, Southwest, American Airlines, JetBlue, or any other airline, follow TSA guidelines when it comes to how many ounces a passenger is allowed to take on a plane.
So to reiterate, each passenger must ensure that any liquids, gels and aerosols packed in their carry on bags are stored in travel-size containers that do not exceed 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters.
How Many 3.4 Oz Containers Can You Bring On a Plane?
In total, you can take 32 ounces (or 1 quart of liquids on a plane).
This is because part of the 3-1-1 Rule states that each passenger can travel with liquids, gels and aerosols in travel-size containers that are no larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in a 1 quart-sized, resealable bag.
In all likelihood, you won’t be able to take a full 32 ounces on a plane because any liquid and gel will be in a container.
In reality, you will probably be able to bring 25 ounces in total, in 7 or 8 travel-sized containers onto a plane.
Exceptions to the 3-1-1 Rule
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)
Hand sanitizer and jumbo disinfecting wipes were not considered an exception until the Covid pandemic.
If you are taking any of the above items, they should be removed from your carry on bags for additional screening.
What Happens If You Exceed 3.4 Oz/100ml?
If you try and go through airport security with any liquid, gel or aerosol in a container that exceeds 3.4oz/100ml, a security agent will confiscate the item.
As mentioned above, there are certain exceptions. But if your item does not qualify as one of these exceptions, it will be confiscated, and you will not be able to get it back.
How to Bring More Than 3.4 Oz/100ml On a Plane
There is a loophole that allows passengers to bring more than 3.4oz/100ml of liquids on a plane.
The caveat is that you have to be traveling with a baby or young child.
If you don’t want to throw away that bottle of water or juice you brought with you, just say that it is for the baby/child.
Obviously, you’re quite limited with what items this will work with, and it certainly won’t work with alcohol or your cup of Starbucks, but it’s still useful to know.
Surprising Item That Qualify As Liquids
There are some surprising items that qualify as liquids, which means that if they exceed 3.4oz/100ml, you won’t be able to take them onto a plane.
Make sure to keep a note of these, so you won’t be in for an unexpected surprise on your next flight.
There are some liquids that, even if under 3.4 oz/100ml, you are forbidden from bringing them on a plane.
Liquids that are forbidden include:
- Most flammable liquids (you can bring nail polish on a plane, though)
- Most toxic liquids
- Aerosols that do not qualify as toiletries
- Alcoholic Beverages over 70% ABV (140 proof)
- Spray Paint
- Spray Starch
- Cooking Spray
These items are forbidden because they are considered dangerous substances that could put the flight crew and passengers at risk.
How Many Ounces Can You Take in Checked Bags?
Generally, there is no limit to how many ounces of liquids you can pack in your checked bags.
However, the TSA state that there is a limit on “the total amount of restricted medicinal and toiletry articles in checked baggage”.
For these items, “the total aggregate quantity per person cannot exceed 2 kg (70 ounces) or 2 L (68 fluid ounces).
The capacity of each container must not exceed 0.5 kg (18 ounces) or 500 ml (17 fluid ounces).”
Other items, like pepper spray, have their own restrictions.
If you want to bring pepper spray on a plane, the container must be no larger than one 4 fl. oz. (118ml), and is only allowed in your checked baggage.
Robert is a seasoned flyer who knows more about commercial air travel than practically anyone else out there due to the time he has spent at airports and on planes over the years for work.