What you can and can’t bring on a plane, including the amount allowed, can be very confusing for even the most experienced of flyers, especially when it comes to liquids.
According to TSA regulations, you are allowed to bring liquids in containers that don’t exceed 3.4oz/100ml in your carry on.
There are also limits when liquids are packed in your checked bags, which many people are not aware of, though the limits are much greater.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Size Liquid Can You Take on a Plane?
- 2 No Differences For International Flights
- 3 Airlines Follow TSA Regulations
- 4 How to Pack Liquids for Flying
- 5 You Will Be Able to Bring 7-8 Bottles in Your Carry On
- 6 How Many Ounces in Total Can You Take On a Plane?
- 7 A Loophole to Bring More Than 3.4 Oz/100ml On a Plane
- 8 Exceptions to the 3-1-1 Rule
- 9 Liquids That Are Forbidden
- 10 Surprising Items That Qualify As Liquids
- 11 What the 3-1-1 Rule Stands For
- 12 Why the 3-1-1 Rule Exists
What Size Liquid Can You Take on a Plane?
Carry on Bags
The TSA has a rule in place called the 3-1-1 Rule.
The 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.”
These containers must also fit in a 1-quart sized, resealable bag.
You are required to take this bag out of your carry on and place it in a screening bin as you go through airport security.
Note that it is the size of the container itself and not how much liquid is in the container that matters.
So, if you have a bottle that contains just 1ml of liquid inside a 4oz container, it still won’t be allowed through.
Not many passengers are aware that there are restrictions on the quantity of liquids you can pack in their checked bags.
According to the TSA:
- A container must not exceed 0.5 kg (18 ounces) or 500 ml (17 fluid ounces).
- The total aggregate quantity of your toiletry products must also not exceed 2 kg (70 ounces) or 2 L (68 fluid ounces).
No Differences For International Flights
Even though it may not be called the 3-1-1 rule worldwide, the rules remain the same if you’re flying internationally.
So regardless if you’re flying from or within Mexico, Canada, the UK, Europe or any other country, you are only allowed to pack liquids (as well as gels and aerosols) in containers that are no larger than 3.4oz/100ml in your carry on.
Airlines Follow TSA Regulations
All airlines follow TSA regulations.
So this means that regardless if you’re flying with Delta, Southwest, American Airlines, JetBlue, or any other regional or major air carrier worldwide, you are only allowed to bring liquids in containers that do not exceed 3.4oz/100ml in your carry on.
How to Pack Liquids for Flying
There are a few guidelines you should follow to make your next flight go as smoothly as possible.
- Make sure that no container you want to bring is no larger than 3.4oz/100ml.
- Buy travel-friendly products of your favorite products.
- If the company doesn’t sell travel-friendly sizes, buy your own 3.4oz/100ml containers and transfer the liquids into them.
- Consider packing non-liquid alternatives instead (you can bring a bar of soap on a plane on a plane, for example, with no restrictions. The same applies to sunscreen sticks).
- Share toiletry space with your travel partner, as the 3-1-1 Rule applies to each passenger.
- Store your items in a clear bag that is no larger than 1 quart.
- Use your checked luggage for liquids in larger containers.
You Will Be Able to Bring 7-8 Bottles in Your Carry On
In total, you can take 32 ounces (or 1 quart) of liquids on a plane.
But as the containers themselves will take up space in the single quart-sized bag, you won’t be able to take a full 32 ounces of liquids in your carry on.
You will be able to bring about 25 ounces in total, in 7 or 8 travel-sized 3.4oz/100ml containers onto a plane in your carry on.
How Many Ounces in Total Can You Take On a Plane?
Carry On Bags
As just mentioned, you can bring 32 ounces (or 1 quart of liquids on a plane), though it will more likely be 25 ounces in 7-8 bottles.
If liquids are packed in your checked bags, each container must not exceed 18 ounces or 17 fluid ounces).
The total aggregate quantity of your toiletry products must also not exceed 70 ounces or 68 fluid ounces.
A Loophole to Bring More Than 3.4 Oz/100ml On a Plane
There is a loophole that lets you bring more than 3.4oz/100ml of liquids on a plane, though it only works with very few items and under certain circumstances.
If you are traveling with a young child or baby, you can say that the item is for them.
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)
Liquids That Are Forbidden
There are several liquids that, even if under 3.4 oz/100ml, you are not allowed to bring on a plane in either your carry on or checked bags.
These items 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
Surprising Items That Qualify As Liquids
There are also items that you wouldn’t expect to count as liquids, but actually do.
These items include:
What the 3-1-1 Rule Stands For
The 3-1-1 Rule stands for 3 ounces, 1 passenger, 1 quart-sized bag.
While the limit is actually 3.4 ounces instead of 3 ounces, we guess that 3.4-1-1 Rule didn’t have the same ring to it.
Why the 3-1-1 Rule Exists
The 3-1-1 Rule exists because terrorists have previously tried to sneak liquid explosives on a plane on more than one occasion.
While the rule is frustrating, it exists for the safety of passengers.
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).