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.
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).
Domestic vs. 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.
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.
How Many Bottles of Liquids Can You Bring on a Plane?
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.
Of course, this will only work for bringing a water bottle on a plane and not items like alcohol, coffee or tea.
Are There Any 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)
Are There Any 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 Item That Qualify As Liquids
There are also items that you wouldn’t expect to count as liquids, but actually do.
These items include:
- Peanut butter
- Hair mousse
- Snow globes
What Happens if You Break the 3-1-1 Rule?
If you attempt to bring liquids (along with gels and aerosols) that exceed 3.4oz/100ml on a plane in your carry on, they will be simply be confiscated.
What Does the 3-1-1 Rule Stand 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 Does the 3-1-1 Rule Exist?
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.
Robert is an expert in commercial air travel with decades of experience in the travel industry, and has spent countless hours in airports and on planes for work.
Robert therefore has an unrivaled understanding of everything related to commercial air travel, and has been quoted or mentioned in major publications, such as Insider, Trip Savvy, ZDNet, and Bored Panda, showcasing his extensive knowledge and expertise in the field.